With thanks to The Open University for allowing us to repost this piece. Originally published on their website here.
As a single woman in the early 20th century making ends meet was no easy feat, so it’s remarkable that Madam CJ Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in America. Continue reading Madam CJ Walker
The Morgan Library, which occupies a large complex on New York’s Madison Avenue, is known internationally as one of the finest collections of books and manuscripts in the world. It was founded in 1906 to house the private library of legendary financier J. P. Morgan, who began to accumulate rare books, illuminated manuscripts, incunabula and examples of fine bookbinding at an almost aggressive rate in the 1890s. Morgan himself, however, was no scholar or connoisseur in the world of bibliophilia, and the expertise and passion which largely shaped the enormous collection belonged to his remarkable personal librarian, a woman of colour named Belle da Costa Greene. Continue reading Belle da Costa Greene
Annie Turnbo Malone was one of the first self-made African-American millionaires. She used her success to bring others with her, creating jobs for thousands of other women like her and using her millions to support good causes.
Annie was born in southern Illinois in 1869. She was the daughter of two escaped slaves and the 10th of 11 children. When she was still young her parents both died, orphaning Annie (yes she’s the other ‘little orphan Annie’!) She moved to live with her older sister. Although she enjoyed going to school, particularly her chemistry lessons, poor health meant that she was very rarely able to attend. Continue reading Annie Turnbo Malone
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several other books.
I discovered Maya Angelou’s work in a charity shop in Cornwall, I bought the book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and it was a true gift for me. Throughout my life I have read most of her books and poetry and seen her on TV, and in films. It is her universal voice, that connects with so many of her readers. She details the struggles we all encounter, growing up, sexuality, self esteem, being a strong woman, role models, how to survive mistakes that break your heart, living a creative life, motherhood, and finding love. Continue reading Maya Angelou
Phillis Wheatley was a poet and the first African American woman to have her work published.
Phillis Wheatley, as her name became, was born in West Africa (probably Senegal). Her African birth name is unknown to us now, because when she was only 7 years old she was kidnapped and shipped to America to be sold as a slave. The ship she sailed on was called The Phillis, from which she got her new name. The family she was sold to were the Wheatleys.
The Wheatley’s daughter taught Phillis to read and write, which was quite unusual for a slave. She was a quick learner; by the time she was 9 years old she had mastered English, by the time she was 12 she could handle Greek and Latin too! The Wheatley family encouraged her learning and she began to read all the books she could lay her hands on.
Continue reading Phillis Wheatley