November Women’s History Events & Birthdays

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November is National Native American Heritage Month

The celebration of Native American heritage has roots in efforts at the turn of the 20th century to recognize the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States. Starting as a day of recognition in 1916 in some states, then becoming Native Awareness Week in 1976, the celebration expanded to a month in 1990 and has been signified by Presidential Proclamation every November since 1994.

Native American Heritage Month is a special opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of American Indian women from hundreds of diverse nations and tribes within the United States.  Since 1925, Native Americans have held dual citizenship as citizens of their nation or tribe and US citizenship.
Please read the Presidential Proclamation for more information about National Native American Heritage Month. Presidential Proclamation — National Native American Heritage Month, 2014

November Highlights in US Women’s History

  • November 1, 1848 – First medical school for women, the New England Female Medical School, opens, in 1874 it merges with Boston University to become one of the world’s first co-ed medical schools
  • November 8, 1910 – The state of Washington passes a constitutional amendment to guarantee woman suffrage
  • November 8, 1984 – Dr. Anna L. Fisher, a physician on the shuttle Discovery, becomes the first American mother and third American woman to fly into space
  • November 11, 1979 – Bethune Museum and Archives opens in Washington D.C. as a center for African-American women’s history, honoring Mary McLeod Bethune
  • November 11, 1993 – The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after being conceived by former army combat nurse Diane Carlson Evans and sculpted by Glenna Goodacre to honor the 265,000 women who voluntarily served during the Vietnam era
  • November 13, 1938 – Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini is beatified, the first American woman citizen to become a saint
  • November 14, 1889 – Journalist Elizabeth Cochran, aka Nellie Bly, sails around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds, beating the fictional record set by Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days
  • November 14, 1903 – The U.S. Women’s Trade Union League is established
  • November 14, 1946 – Emily Greene Balch, co-founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • November 28, 1881 – The first organizational meeting is held for the predecessor group to the American Association of University Women (AAUW)

November Birthdays

  • November 2, 1936 (1999) – Rose Elizabeth Bird, attorney, first woman in California to hold a cabinet position (Secretary of Agriculture), allowed workers to unionize, appointed Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court in 1977, defeated in 1987 by conservatives because she opposed the death penalty
  • November 3, 1905 (1998) – Lois Mailou Jones, entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1933, won the coveted Susan Minot Lane Scholarship in Design, chaired the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina, 1938-77
  • November 5, 1857 (1944) – Ida Tarbell, investigative reporter, wrote expose on Standard Oil that led to federal investigation and break-up of the company
  • November 7, 1909 (1980) – Ruby Hurley, served on the committee that arranged Marian Anderson’s performance at the Lincoln Memorial after she was barred from singing at Constitution Hall, as youth secretary for NAACP increased youth membership to 25,000, investigated the murder of Emmitt Till despite personal danger
  • November 7, 1925 (1983) – Barbara Wertheimer, wrote We Were There: The Story of Working Women in America in 1977, founding member of Coalition of Labor Union Women
  • November 8, 1892 (1977) – Therese Benedek, fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and settled in Chicago, researched the relationship of aspects of psychosomatic medicine and female sexuality at the Institute for Psychoanalysis
  • November 8, 1897 (1980) – Dorothy Day, social reformer, suffragist and peace activist, co-founded the Catholic Worker movement and edited “The Catholic Worker” newspaper
  • November 8, 1908 (1998) – Martha Gellhorn, pacifist war correspondent, reported on eight wars, married to writer Ernest Hemingway 1936-45, wrote six novels and four books of short stories
  • November 8, 1920 (1998) – Esther Rolle, one of founding members of the renowned Negro Ensemble Company in 1968, created the role of Florida Evans in “Maude,” starred in “Good Times” 1970-79
  • November 9, 1918 (1995) – Florence Chadwick, legendary female long distance swimmer, at age 10 swam the 2.5 mile channel at the mouth of San Diego Bay, swimming the English channel in 1950 she bested the existing record by 71 minutes, joined the Swimming Hall of Fame in 1970
  • November 11, 1744 (1818) – Abigail Adams, politically influential First Lady, early advocate for women’s rights
  • November 11, 1896 (1977) – Shirley Graham Du Bois, composed libretto for “Tom Tom” in 1932 and wrote score for “Swing Mikado” for the Federal Theater Project before the House Committee on Un-American Activities shut it down, traveled in triumph with her husband W.E.B. Du Bois in China and Ghana in 1956
  • November 11, 1914 (1999) – Daisy Lee Bates, mentored and advised the “Little Rock Nine” who integrated the Little Rock, Arkansas, public high school between 1959 and 1961, suffered personal, physical, economic, and professional loss, wrote autobiography in 1963, The Long Shadow of Little Rock
  • November 12, 1815 (1902) – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist, suffragist, organized first U.S. women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, first president of the National Woman Suffrage Association
  • November 12, 1887 (1979) – Bertha McNeill, worked on civil rights starting in 1930 as vice-president and later president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  • November 12, 1905 (1979) – Louise Thaden, aviator who worked for Walter Beech’s Travel Aircraft, soloed in 1927, set an altitude record of 20,260 feet and a speed record of 156 mph, won many cross-continent races, founded with other competitors the Ninety-Nines, which was open to all women with a pilot license
  • November 14, 1906 (1985) – Louise Brooks, danced with the Denishawn Dancers in 1922-23, made movies in America and Germany including “Pandora’s Box,” her frank memoir, Lulu in Hollywood, showed her sharp wit and intelligence
  • November 15, 1887 (1986) – Georgia O’Keefe, innovative painter, known for her oversized, close-up paintings of flowers and landscapes
  • November 16, 1899 (1976) – Mary Margaret McBride, appeared in radio show as fictional grandmother on “The Martha Deane Show” from 1934-40, and hosted a radio talk show for 15 years with guests as varied as explorers, literary types, ministers, and florists, remembered for her tag line, “It’s one o’clock and here is Mary Margaret McBride”
  • November 16, 1903 (1996) – Barbara McLean, film editor, helped cut Mary Pickford’s first talkies, went on to Twentieth Century Fox with credits for “Jesse Jones” (1939), “The Black Swan” (1942), and “12 O’Clock High” (1949), when arguments arose her comment was, “If you’re going to ask me, then listen to me,” and they did
  • November 17, 1903 (1977) – Spotted Elk (Molly Alice Nelson Archambaul), international and spellbinding native Penobscot dancer, resisted assimilation while building bridges between cultures, used her knowledge of anthropology in her lecture/dance recitals
  • November 17, 1923 (1988) – Ruth Bleier, trained in neuroanatomy in 1961, worked with Maryland Committee for Peace, lost hospital privileges when she refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, studied differences in brain structure between males and females at University of Wisconsin, involved with Women’s Studies from 1975
  • November 18, 1857 (1950) – Rose Knox, one of America’s foremost businesswomen, co-founded Knox Gelatin Co., revolutionized the company following her husband’s death initiating a five-day work week and two-week vacations
  • November 18, 1904 (1989) – Esther McCoy, an astute analyst of California architecture including both large and small homes and modern, Mexican, and Italian influences, joined preservation campaigns and organized museum exhibits
  • November 18, 1945 (2010) – Wilma Mankiller, first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation, 1985-95
  • November 18, 1948 (1985) – Ana Mendieta, artist, born in Cuba and influenced by minimalist earth and body art as well as by performance art which resulted in her 1976-77 “Tree of Life” series where her mud-covered nude body rested against trees, active with the Sotto Artists in New York
  • November 19, 1895 (1989) – Louise Dahl-Wolfe, photographer for interior decorators in New York and San Francisco, staff photographer for “Harper’s Bazaar” 1936-58, launched the career of 17-year-old actress Lauren Bacall, also worked for “Sports Illustrated” and “Vogue”
  • November 19, 1910 (1993) – Gladys Hobby, microbiologist whose clinical research, pathological materials, and patients with serious infections heralded the introduction of penicillin, sulfa drugs, streptomycin, and other antibiotics
  • November 20, 1896 (1965) – Rose Pesotta, union organizer and first woman vice president of the International Ladies Garment Worker Union, 1934
  • November 20, 1910 (1985) – Pauli Murray, civil rights lawyer, Episcopal priest, first black person to earn a doctorate at Yale Law School, 1965
  • November 20, 1903 (1997) – Alexandra Danilova, Russian ballet soloist at the Imperial Ballet School in 1922, moved to United States in 1938 and became a leading dancer for 13 years, taught at the School of American Ballet from 1964
  • November 20, 1918 (1986) – Corita Kent (Sister Mary Corita), artist, entered Immaculate Heart of Mary congregation in 1936, her popular prints featured peace themes and silk-screening techniques with bright primary colors, left religious order in 1967, continued peace work with Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • November 20, 1976 – Dominique Dawes, first African-American to win an individual event medal with the Magnificent Seven in 1996, won Olympic gold medal as gymnast in 2012
  • November 21, 1906 (1983) – Mary Ellen Bute, foremost innovator of abstract animation beginning in early 1930’s and a world pioneer in electronic imagery, her 1952 “Abstronic” was among the world’s first films to use electronically generated imagery
  • November 22, 1943 – Billie Jean King, tennis champion, won 20 Wimbledon titles, first female athlete in any sport to earn $100,000 (1971)
  • November 23, 1898 (1980) – Rachel Brown, bacteriologist who found pathogenic fungus responsible for diseases and refined a safe and effective antibiotic for human fungal diseases at the Department of Health in Albany (NY) in 1950, worked with the American Association of University Women to widen opportunities for women in science
  • November 24, 1910 (1982) – Lucy Covington, with her heritage of many chiefs, was tribal leader who saved the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State and made the federal government fulfill its treaty responsibilities to Indians, supported higher education and training for tribal members
  • November 24, 1921 (1992) – Yoshiko Uchida, author of more than 30 books dealing with the Japanese-American experience
  • November 25, 1900 (1980) – Helen Gahagen Douglas, actress and politician, starred in H. Rider Haggard’s “She,” served as California Congressional representative 1944-50, when she ran for the Senate her opponent Richard Nixon claimed she was “pink down to her underwear,” which was later termed the worst “red-smear” campaign in American politics
  • November 26, 1792 (1873) – Sarah Grimké, outspoken abolitionist and influential women’s rights pioneer, wrote “Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States” in 1836 refuting Biblical scripture that justified slavery, wrote “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman” in 1838
  • November 26, 1832 (1919) – Mary Walker, women’s rights advocate who adopted the “Bloomer” dress reform in 1850s, won the Congressional Medal of Honor for services in the Civil War including treating patients in the South, an active suffragist she probably left medicine after the war
  • November 28, 1903 (1998) – Alice Cook, labor educator, tried several systems to increase union representation of textile workers and the CIO, taught and researched at Cornell University 1952-72, established Cornell’s Department of Women’s Studies
  • November 29, 1832 (1888) – Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women
  • November 29, 1876 (1977) – Nellie Tayloe Ross, became the first woman governor when her husband died in 1924, championed prohibition and worker’s rights, defeated for a full term, Roosevelt appointed her director of the Mint, a position she held for 20 years
  • November 29, 1902 (1979) – Essie Parrish, spiritual and political leader of Kashaya Pomo Indians, famous for their baskets, possessed the gifts of prophesy and as medicine woman used hand power to counter illness
  • November 29, 1919 (1994) – Pearl Primus, choreographer and dancer who fused modern dance with African dance and created public demand for African American women when she debuted in 1943, her interest in anthropology helped preserve African dance tradition
  • November 29, 1926 (1999) – Michi Weglyn, wrote about the World War II internment of American citizens because they had Japanese ancestors, Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of American Concentration Camps, in 1976, Congress later apologized and paid $20,000 to each internee
  • November 30, 1900 (1994) – Mary Lasker, worked with the Birth Control Federation of America in 1939 (which was renamed Planned Parenthood in 1942), lobbied for federal funding for the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart Institute
  • November 30, 1924 (2005) – Shirley Chisholm, first African-American Congresswoman, (D-NY, 1969-83), first woman and first African-American Democratic presidential nominee, received 151 delegate votes at the Democratic Convention in 1972

For a year-round calendar of women’s historic events and birthdays, visit our website
National Women’s History Project
730 Second Street #469
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
(707) 636-2888

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