Last year I shared stories of women who played a big part in history – yet are often ignored in our history books and their stories remain largely untold.
I wonder if anyone who read those blogs even remember those women now.
Dot Graden, Ann Caracristi, Virginia Adaholt, Jeannette Rankin and Katherine Johnson were all women who played an important role in the history of our country.
Deborah, Jael, Shiphrah and Puah were given small mention in the Bible, yet played important roles in the history of Israel as told in the Bible.
As we approach the Christmas season and hear the Christmas story, I wonder if anyone will stop and ask “Who are these women” that Matthew mentions in his opening chapters telling of the birth of baby Jesus?
Matthew’s first chapter is written to show that Jesus descended from the father of the nation, Abraham, and also from…
On May 5, 1961 Alan Shepard, Jr became the first American in space. Mercury-Redstone’s 15-minute flight was watched by some 45 million television viewers.
I was one of those eagerly watching. Our junior high school classes suspended the day’s teaching and brought in television sets so we could watch this great moment in history.
What exciting times! In the years following Americans continued to watch the launching of many rockets and learned the names of the astronauts who were heroes as the Mercury project launched six manned spacecraft between 1961 and 1963.
Alan Shephard, Jr – first American in space in 1961.
John Glenn – first American to orbit the earth in 1962.
Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin – first to reach the moon in 1969.
Today these men’s names are easily recognized and recently a movie was even made about Neil Armstrong, whose first words as he stepped on…
History books are full of the deeds of men – both good and bad. But what about the women? Surprisingly women have accomplished a great deal that has never really been given the attention it deserves.
Yesterday I wrote about the women who helped break the codes of the Axis forces in World War II. If you did not read that post, I encourage you to do so. I also mentioned a book that gives much more detail about these thousands of women who helped us achieve victory in that war.
This is a repost from earlier last year. Since this month is Women’s History Month, I thought I would share again. While I only shared about the last three women on this list in this post, check out some of the others for some interesting and informative stories of women we do not hear about.
Do you like history? American history? Would you consider yourself knowledgable on our country’s past? If so, do you know these women?
Virginia D. Aderholt
The list could go on and on. Somehow it seems the women have been sadly neglected in our history books.
The last three were among the first to learn that World War II was officially over. Recruited, along with thousands of others, these women worked decoding messages sent by the Germans and Japanese. As the war with Japan began to end the Japanese could not communicate with the USA directly because lines of communication had been cut. It was determined that the Japanese planned to send a message announcing their intent to surrender via the neutral Swiss. The message would be sent to the Japanese ambassador in Bern who would then take it to the Swiss foreign office.
As the message came through to the Japanese ambassador Virginia D Aderholt was the one who decoded the message. From there word was sent to President Truman that the surrender would be coming shortly.
These three women were part of the larger group who helped to break the complex systems used by the Axis Powers to hide their messages in secret. These young women were recruited from colleges all over the USA. Young and eager to help with the war effort as their husbands and brothers were fighting, they did much to help our country not only win the war, but saved many American lives in the process.
Representative Clarence Hancock of New York stated:
I believe that our cryprographers…in the war with Japan did as much to bring that war to a successful and early conclusion as any other group of men>
Want to know more about these terrific women?
Check out the book Code Girls – The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II written by Liza Mundy.
And follow my blog for the next few days as I share stories of other women neglected in our history books.
Women like “Stagecoach Mary” a formerly enslaved woman who carried the U.S. mail – and her rifle – through the Montana mountains.
Lulsa Capetillo, a Puerto Rican labor leader who was arrested in Havana for wearing pants in public.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
A BELIEVER IS THE ELECT OF GOD
Elect is Greek word electors and means chosen, one picked out from among the larger group for special service or privileges. It is used to refer to Christ as the chosen Messiah of God (Luke 23:35) and believers as recipients of God’s favor (Matt. 24:22; Romans 8:33; and Col. 3:12).
Matthew 24:22 – And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved;but for theelect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Romans 8:33 – Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?It isGod who justifies.
Most of us have heard of Ellis Island. Many of us who have traced our ancestry can lay claim to having descended from someone who came through Ellis Island on their journey to becoming an American citizen.
Prior to 1892 immigration was controlled by individual states. On January 1, 1892 the Federal government opened an official immigration station on Ellis Island. More than 12 million immigrants would arrive in the United States via this island in the next 62 years. The island became a symbolic landmark and immigrants who came to this country to seek a better life saw this island as the doorway to the land of opportunity. A large majority of those who came were from Northern European countries.
Even today Ellis Island is held up as a great symbol of our country and the welcome it gave to immigrants. On a web site devoted to the island it is called “a poetic symbol of the American Dream”
After arriving at the island immigrants were screened for any obvious physical ailments. They also had to fill out a form before boarding the ship with their name, country they were from and some questions that could be used by the legal inspectors before being granting leave to enter the USA. Although some were turned away or kept for many days before being allowed to enter or sent back to their home country, only two percent were denied entry.
Today there is a National Museum of Immigration on the island. The first immigrant to be processed there has a statute in her honor. She has become a well-known historical figure
Other well known immigrants came through Ellis Island including Bob Hope, Irving Berlin and Cary Grant. Other less well known were Jamaican poet and writer Claude McKay and Olympic swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku.
This island is celebrated by our nation and it boast its own foundation website who states that its goal is:
The Foundation works to preserve and honor two of our country’s greatest landmarks: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We pursue a diverse range of educational and community building efforts and work to create meaningful connections between island visitors and the dense fabric of American history.
There is a Passenger Search database where you can search for family members who arrived there from 1820 to 1957. There are close to 65 million passenger records. For $50 you can even have a foundation members search the records for you.
But what if your ancestors did not come from northern Europe? What if your ancestors came to the USA as slaves? Is there an island, is there a foundation for you to research your background?
Well there is Sullivan Island in South Carolina.
In 1674 Captain Florence O’Sullivan was placed by the government of Carolina in charge of protecting the city of Charles Towne (Charlestown). He chose the island that now bears his name as the best place to place a gun that would protect the town.
It quickly became a commercial center for rice and indigo trade. As the colonies grew and trade in slaves became another highly commercial venture, Charlestown quickly became the largest slave port in the USA. Sullivan’s Island was the main entry point for Africans forced into slavery in the North American colonies. Until January 1, 1801 when the slave trade was abolished in the USA, approximately 400,000 Africans were imported to the USA to labor in the tobacco and cotton fields of the South. It is believed that at least 40% of that number came through Sullivan Island.
“Pest houses” were built on the island where the slaves would be quarantined for days before they were then transported to Charles Town for sale at public auction.
Sadly, unlike Ellis Island, there is little to mark the history of those who came to the USA through this island.
In 1989 writer Toni Morrison noted this lack of recognition by our nation.
“There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath or wall, or park or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road.”
In 1990 a small plaque was finally placed on the island commenorating all those who came to the USA through Sullivan’s Island.
A place where…Africans were brought to this country under extreme conditions of human bondage and degradation. Tens of thousands of captives arrived on Sullivan’s Island from the West African shores between 1700 and 1775. Those who remained in the Charleston community and those who passed through this site account for a significant number of the African-Americans now residing in these United States. Only through God’s blessings, a burning desire for justice, and persistent will to succeed against monumental odds, have African-Americans created a place for themselves in the American mosaic.
A place where…We commemorate this site as the entry of Africans who came and who contributed to the greatness of our country. The Africans who entered through this port have moved on to meet the challenges created by injustices, racial and economic discrimination, and withheld opportunities. Africans and African-Americans, through the sweat of their brow, have distinguished themselves in the Arts, Education, Medicine, Politics, Religion, Law, Athletics, Research, Artisans and Trades, Business, Industry, Economics, Science, Technology and Community and Social Services.
A place where…This memorial rekindles the memory of a dismal time in American history, but it also serves as a reminder for a people who – past and present, have retained the unique values, strength and potential that flow from our West African culture which came to this nation through the middle passage.
Erected in 1990 by the S.C. Department of Archives and History. The Charleston Club of S.C. and the Avery Research Center.
Pursuant to a request from the South Carolina General Assembly as Evidenced in concurrent resolution S. 719, Adopted June 3, 1990.
Two different islands – two different stories. Although those who came through Ellis Island no doubt suffered many difficulties just making the trip and then going through the screening process on the island, they came willingly as their own choice and came seeking the hope of a better life.
Those who came through Sullivan Island did not come as their own choice but were stolen from their family and home and subjected to a journey over the ocean that we cannot even begin to imagine. They did not come seeking anything or hoping for a better life.
Ellis Island might have a sign that said “Welcome to America”
Sullivan Island’s sign might say “Welcome to Hell.”
Today In History – Frederick Douglass is born on February 14th, 1818. He was a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman after escaping from slavery in Maryland. Douglass became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in New York and Massachusetts. His work and anti-slavery writing became famous around the world.
This was only one story we discovered about the black/white relationship in the 1800’s that has never been shared in our most of our history lessons while we were spending time in Charleston, South Carolina.. But it is one that we should know.
In exploring the park, we also found more history that was never in the history books in school. We turned a corner in one of the walkways and there was a statue of a black man with a book under one arm and a bag of tools in his other hand. Who was he and what was a statute of him doing in this beautiful park?
Denmark Vesey, a self-educated slave who planned a massive rebellion. In one hand is a Bible and a bag of carpenter tools is in the other.
In 1866 an university was established in Nashville Tennessee that was open to women and men regardless of color. Founded by the American Missionary Association, Fisk University was only one of more than 500 schools and colleges this anti-slavery group set up before, during and after the Civil War.
Five years after its founding, the university found itself in financial distress. Hoping to raise money to keep the school open Fisk treasurer and music professor, George White, took nine of his students on tour to perform in small towns around the country.
Deciding what songs to sing, Professor White wrote, “One day , there came into my room a few students with some air of mystery. The door was shut and locked, the window curtains were drawn, and, as if a thing they were ashamed of, they sang some of the old-time religious slave songs now long since known as Jubilee songs.” This was one of those moments that changed everything. It was a moment that altered the course of musical history. Current musical director, Professor Paul Kwamit, said of that moment “the Fisk Jubilee Singers changed the Negro spiritual into an art form and introduced it to the world.”
There were some hostile audiences. Refused first-class seats on the train, George Pullman intervened and ended segregated seating on his trains. But over time their beautiful voices and immaculate performances brought praise and recognition. Mark Twain was a great fan of theirs and said “I would walk seven miles to hear them sing again.” Their efforts to help the university was a huge success. They raised enough money to build the school’s first permanent building. Named Jubilee Hall after them, it is now a National Historic Landmark.
The group sang at the World Peace Festival in Boston and later at the White House for President U.S. Grant.
In 1873 the original nine members were increased to 11 (all but two of this group were former slaves) and they took their singing to Europe. There they performed before Queen Victoria and Prime Minister William Gladstone. Queen Victoria was so enchanted by their singing that she commissioned a massive group portrait by her own official portraitist. This beautiful floor-to-ceiling portrait hangs in the Jubilee Hall.
Since then the group has continued to share their talents around the world. In 2000 they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Music City Inc. included them, along with Reba McEntire, Roy Orbison and Ronnie Milsap, into the inaugural class of honorees of the Music City Walk of Fame. The U.S. Embassy sent them to Ghana in July 2007 to help that nation celebrate their 50th independence anniversary. President George W. Bush presented them with the 2008 National Medal of Arts.
We owe much to the black community for our own music. Much of jazz, rhymn and blues, gospel, and even rock and roll was largely influenced by the black community and the songs they created from their experiences.
“If American music is unique, it is largely due to its bedrock foundation of blues and gospel music, two forms of music that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century. Anchoring the sounds of African America, these styles underlay the musical innovations of the century: jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, soul and hip hop. They are known and cherished around the world and in every corner of the U.S. It would be impossible to imagine American music without them.”….Charles E. McGovern, Associate Professor of American Studies and History, College of William and Mary.
Check out the stories of some of these great black musicians: