The Conqueror of the Ocean: Tracy Edwards

Expelled from school for her rebellious streak, Tracy Edwards, born on September 5th, 1962, was trouble and little else. However, her life was radically transformed by a chance encounter in a Greek bar. Her family was remarkable. She spent her early years in Pangbourne, England, dreaming of becoming a ballet dancer just as her mother …

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All the Little Women: Louisa May Alcott

Not many people will know the name ‘Louisa May Alcott’, yet she was responsible for writing one of the bestselling novels the world ever saw. Born on November 29th in 1832 in Germantown, now part of Philadelphia but then Pennsylvania, Louisa was the daughter of a transcendentalist and educator, Amos Bronson Alcott, and social worker …

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The Broadcast Life: Janet Brewster Murrow

Once destined to be an actress, and became an accomplished pianist along the way, Janet Brewster Murrow, born on September 18th, 1910 in Middletown, Connecticut, ultimately became known for working as a broadcaster during World War II. Yet she was no ordinary broadcaster. No, she helped to evacuate children from the ruins and became a …

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A Sermon in Patchwork: Harriet Powers

American folk artist and quilt maker extraordinaire, famed for her traditional ornamental needlework known as appliqué, recording local legends, biblical stores and even astronomical events on her magnificent quilts. Yet for much of the 20th century, the work of Harriet Powers, born in slavery in 1837, was forgotten. Today, many experts agree that Harriet is …

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Hollywood’s Lost Starlet: Louise Brooks

Icon of the Jazz Age, famed for her beauty and her bobbed hair that became a cultural phenomenon, once one of the world’s biggest stars. Yet her life was gripped by tragedy, scandal and recklessness. Mary Louise Brooks was born November 14th, 1906 and she would go on to epitomise the darling flappers of the …

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The Sword of Damascus: Naziq al-Abid

Syria’s first female general, defying the law as she was photographed in all her military finery without her hijab, perhaps one of the bravest fighters of all. Speaking five languages, creator of the Syrian Red Crescent and sent into exile more times than one could count, Naziq al-Abid, born in Damascus, Ottoman Syria, in 1898, …

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The Rosa Parks of Architecture: Norma Merrick Sklarek

The voice for women facing discrimination in the architectural world, Norma Merrick Sklarek earned the nickname ‘The Rosa Parks of Architecture’ from Anna Lewis, all for her major accomplishments in a white and male dominated field. This is Harlem. It’s 1926 when Norma was born on April 15th to Dr Walter Merrick and Amelia Willoughby, …

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The First to Space: Valentina Tereshkova

In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space and remains the youngest. This was a solo mission aboard the Vostok 6 on June 16th. And Valentina was just 26 years of age. She was born on March 6th, 1937 in Bolshoye Maslennikovo in what is now central Russia. Her parents were …

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A Little Detail: Catharina van Hemessen

Obstacles stood in the way of the women who wished to paint in the time of Catharina van Hemessen. By no means was this an easy life. This was the early 1500s and for the women who loved to paint, they were often left to dissect cadavers and study the nude, male figure as part …

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The Forgotten Flapper: Olive Thomas

Life was hard for Olive Thomas, born Olive Duffy on October 20th 1894 in the industrial city of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. She lost her Irish father when she was only 12 years of age. Her mother found work in a local factory but the work was low paid. Olive was forced to leave school at 15 …

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