Sheila Kitzinger

Sheila Kitzinger was a British natural childbirth advocate who campaigned for women to have more say in their birth choices. She was an anthropologist and author who was referred to as ‘the Birth Mother of the nation’ and the ‘high priestess of natural childbirth.’

Sheila was born in Taunton on 29th March 1929. Her father, Alec, was a tailor, while her mother, Clare, was Sheila’s inspiration – working for a family planning clinic, campaigning for access to birth control and counselling women from the family living room. It was observing her mother fulfil these roles that sowed the seeds of Sheila’s own passion to support expectant and new mothers. She said about her mother,  Continue reading Sheila Kitzinger

June Anderson

“I have become deeply convinced that if you are not actively a part of seeking of the solution of women’s rights you are a part of the problem.” June Anderson

As fall is here and the kiddos are back in school, it’s the perfect time to pay tribute to a shero who worked tirelessly to make her campus safer and more accessible for women and non-traditional students.

June Anderson was born in Tipton County, Tennessee in 1926. She received a B.S. in chemistry and biology in 1947, and earned her M.A. in chemistry and English the following year. She taught high school science for over a decade, and Tennessee honored Anderson’s excellence in teaching with the Distinguished Science Teachers Award in 1957. However, she never lost sight of her own educational goals. In 1954, she received a General Electric Fellowship to complete a second undergraduate degree in physics. Continue reading June Anderson

Susette La Flesche; Native American Activist

Born in Nebraska in 1854, Susette, also called Inshata Theumba (Bright Eyes), had French and Native American ancestry. That year the United States government promised the Omaha tribe would keep 300,000 acres of their traditional lands for their reservation. Susette’s father believed the Omaha must accept reservation life to survive. Young Susette learned to read and write English at the reservation missionary school.

But corrupt government agents pocketed tribal funds while doling out shoddy goods and poor food. The Omaha faced hunger and suffering. And they knew, like other tribes, that treaties did not protect them from the threat of removal to Indian Territory, an arid, harsh land in present-day Oklahoma. Continue reading Susette La Flesche; Native American Activist

Lady Margaret Beaufort – Mother of the Tudor Dynasty

Margaret was born on 31st May 1443 during a period of instability known as the War of the Roses.  Her father was the great-grandson of Edward III and she was a wealthy heiress. She was well educated and highly religious.

To help secure his fragile reign Henry VI proposed the marriage of Margaret to his half-brother Edmund Tudor. While girls could legally marry at the age of twelve, it was usual for them to remain with their parents until they were old enough to safely have children. However, Margaret became pregnant at the age of thirteen and six months later Edmund died of Plague. Margaret fled to her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor. At Pembroke Castle she gave birth to Henry Tudor but both nearly died in labour and Margaret was unable to have more children. Continue reading Lady Margaret Beaufort – Mother of the Tudor Dynasty

Annie Dodge Wauneka

Annie Dodge Wauneka was a member of the Navajo tribe, who dedicated her life to improving the health & well-being of her people.

Born on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, Annie was the daughter of Navajo leader, Henry Chee Dodge. Her father was wealthy and could speak English; he had acted as a translator between the US government and the Navajo people, and become a successful businessman with a ranch, where Annie and her siblings grew up.

As a girl Annie tended to the sheep on her father’s ranch, which she enjoyed. Like many other young Navajo children, when she was 8 she was sent to the government-run boarding school. Her experience of leaving home and being sent to school led to her campaign later in life for schools to be built much closer to people’s homes across the reservation, so that children did not have to leave their families.  Continue reading Annie Dodge Wauneka

Empress Theodora

Theodora (c.497-548) was born in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul. In her remarkable life she became probably the most powerful woman in Byzantine history. Little is known about her early years, and it is hard to sort fact from fiction in such a colourful story.

The daughter of a bear keeper at Constantinople’s hippodrome, Theodora was put to work there herself at an early age as an actress, dancer, mime artist and comedian. Performing for hundreds of spectators, by the age of 15 she was a successful performer. She was also (as most actresses of the time were) prostituted, and gave birth to her first child aged just 14. Continue reading Empress Theodora

Mary Paley Marshall

Mary Paley grew up in a rose-covered country rectory in Northamptonshire, England. Her great-grandfather was the famous philosopher William Paley, who wrote Natural Theology. Unusually for the time Mary’s father, the Reverend Thomas Paley, did not see why his daughter’s education should stop at age thirteen. He taught her maths and science himself and encouraged her to take the new exam for women wanting to become teachers. Mary did so well in it that in 1871 she was offered a scholarship to study at Newnham College in Cambridge. Continue reading Mary Paley Marshall