Kassia, 9th century
Art by Ewnor (tumblr)
Kassia is the earliest known female composer with surviving works.  Her forty-nine extant hymns can be found in the liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Her most famous work, the Hymn of Kassiani, is sung every Holy Wednesday in the Orthodox Church.  Legend states the hymn was inspired by Kassia’s rejection of Byzantine Emperor Theophilos’s hand in marriage when she was a young woman.   
Listen to the Hymn of Kassiani in English here.

Kassia, 9th century

Art by Ewnor (tumblr)

Kassia is the earliest known female composer with surviving works.  Her forty-nine extant hymns can be found in the liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Her most famous work, the Hymn of Kassiani, is sung every Holy Wednesday in the Orthodox Church.  Legend states the hymn was inspired by Kassia’s rejection of Byzantine Emperor Theophilos’s hand in marriage when she was a young woman.   

Listen to the Hymn of Kassiani in English here.

On Joan Rivers

So far, two people have messaged to complain about the Joan Rivers posts.  There will probably be more, though it is unnecessary.

Cool Chicks from History is not reserved for perfect people.  If it was, there would be no one here.

Joan Rivers broke ground for female entertainers.  That doesn’t erase the problematic things she said, but it does make her noteworthy.  You don’t have to like her to recognize that she paved the way for other women.

newyorker:

Michael Schulman remembers Joan Rivers:

“Everyone who called her the Queen of Mean was missing the point: life is what’s mean, and she was here to let us know how funny that is.”

Credit Photograph Ruth Fremson / The New York Times / Redux  

The linked piece is short and worth reading.

newyorker:

Michael Schulman remembers Joan Rivers:

“Everyone who called her the Queen of Mean was missing the point: life is what’s mean, and she was here to let us know how funny that is.”

Credit Photograph Ruth Fremson / The New York Times / Redux

The linked piece is short and worth reading.

(Source: newyorker.com)

kateoplis:

"I think anyone who’s perfectly happy isn’t particularly funny."
Joan Rivers, 1933-2014

kateoplis:

"I think anyone who’s perfectly happy isn’t particularly funny."

Joan Rivers, 1933-2014

fordlibrarymuseum:

The First Lady’s First Press Conference
A week after the President gave his first press conference Betty Ford held one of her own. She fielded questions in the State Dining Room for 25 minutes on September 4, 1974. Although she had interacted informally with the press since entering the White House, Mrs. Ford took a step many former First Ladies had not by making herself available to the media in an official press conference. Around 150 reporters and photographers attended the session. During the press conference Mrs. Ford answered questions about her family’s transition to the White House, the impact of the economy on her family’s budget, and the possibility of President Ford running in the 1976 election. She spoke openly on several topics that would come up throughout the administration, including her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s engagement in civic affairs. “I think that by becoming very active in politics, which I deeply encourage, that they will play a great role in the future of our country,” she said. Reporters asked her about her role as First Lady as well. Mrs. Ford expressed her interest in supporting the arts, particularly in education, and working with underprivileged and retarded children. She also responded to a question regarding the kind of “footprint” she wanted to make during her time in the White House: “I would like to be remembered in a very kind way; also as a constructive wife of a President. I do not expect to come anywhere near living up to those First Ladies who have gone before me. They have all done a great job, and I admire them a great deal and it is only my ambition to come close to them.”

fordlibrarymuseum:

The First Lady’s First Press Conference

A week after the President gave his first press conference Betty Ford held one of her own. She fielded questions in the State Dining Room for 25 minutes on September 4, 1974.

Although she had interacted informally with the press since entering the White House, Mrs. Ford took a step many former First Ladies had not by making herself available to the media in an official press conference. Around 150 reporters and photographers attended the session.

During the press conference Mrs. Ford answered questions about her family’s transition to the White House, the impact of the economy on her family’s budget, and the possibility of President Ford running in the 1976 election. She spoke openly on several topics that would come up throughout the administration, including her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s engagement in civic affairs. “I think that by becoming very active in politics, which I deeply encourage, that they will play a great role in the future of our country,” she said.

Reporters asked her about her role as First Lady as well. Mrs. Ford expressed her interest in supporting the arts, particularly in education, and working with underprivileged and retarded children. She also responded to a question regarding the kind of “footprint” she wanted to make during her time in the White House: “I would like to be remembered in a very kind way; also as a constructive wife of a President. I do not expect to come anywhere near living up to those First Ladies who have gone before me. They have all done a great job, and I admire them a great deal and it is only my ambition to come close to them.”

Rashi’s Daughters (Yocheved, Miriam, and Rachel), 11th century
Art by Sasha (tumblr)
Yocheved, Miriam, and Rachel were the daughters of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), a medieval French Jewish scholar and teacher.  One of the greatest thinkers in Jewish history, Rashi’s commentary on the Torah and Tanakh remains influential to this day.  His writings have been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing in the 1520s.
Legend says that Rashi’s daughters were well versed in Jewish theology, highly unusual for the period.  Rashi’s notes state that one of his daughters served as his secretary and scribe, but her name is not recorded.  Miriam was singled out by later scholars as a particular expert on Jewish rituals.  Some believe that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin, a practice generally reserved for Jewish men, but this is a highly controversial idea.
Yocheved and Miriam married well known scholars.  Their descendants included prominent rabbis and learned women.  Rachel’s life is largely unknown, but she divorced a husband and is thought to have had children.  There may have been a fourth, much younger sister who died very young.

Rashi’s Daughters (Yocheved, Miriam, and Rachel), 11th century

Art by Sasha (tumblr)

Yocheved, Miriam, and Rachel were the daughters of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), a medieval French Jewish scholar and teacher.  One of the greatest thinkers in Jewish history, Rashi’s commentary on the Torah and Tanakh remains influential to this day.  His writings have been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing in the 1520s.

Legend says that Rashi’s daughters were well versed in Jewish theology, highly unusual for the period.  Rashi’s notes state that one of his daughters served as his secretary and scribe, but her name is not recorded.  Miriam was singled out by later scholars as a particular expert on Jewish rituals.  Some believe that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin, a practice generally reserved for Jewish men, but this is a highly controversial idea.

Yocheved and Miriam married well known scholars.  Their descendants included prominent rabbis and learned women.  Rachel’s life is largely unknown, but she divorced a husband and is thought to have had children.  There may have been a fourth, much younger sister who died very young.

pbsamericanmasters:

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning premieres tonight at 9/8c on pbstv. 
iowawomensarchives:

Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Since its founding more than 200,000 women have joined the organization. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women. [source]

Iowa Digital Library: Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

iowawomensarchives:

Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Since its founding more than 200,000 women have joined the organization. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women. [source]

Iowa Digital Library: Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

Bettina and Novella D’Andrea
Art by Intagliogia (tumblr)
Bettina and Novella d’Andrea were the daughters of Giovanni d’Andrea, a noted expert in canon law.  Giovanni is said to have educated both his daughters to the level of a university lecturer.  
Bettina (d. 1355) married Giovanni di San Giorgio, a law professor at the University of Padua.  She is believed to have taught law and philosophy at the University of Padua.  
Novella (b. 1312) is believed to have taught her father’s classes at the University of Bologna when he was unavailable.  According to Christine de Pizan, Novella taught through a curtain so the students would not be distracted by her beauty.  
The careers of Bettina and Novella d’Andrea are disputed, although their father’s career is well documented.  Bettina’s grave describes her as the daughter and wife of scholars rather than as a scholar herself.  Novella’s story was recorded by Christine de Pizan about ninety years after Novella’s birth, but the same story of teaching behind a curtain in Bologna has also been told of Bettisia Gozzadini who lived in the eleventh century.  Dorotea Bucca held a chair in medicine and philosophy at the University of Bologna beginning in 1390.  Like Bettina and Novella, Dorotea’s father was a professor at the University of Bologna, but Dorotea was about fifty years younger than the d’Andrea sisters.  There were multiple female professors in southern Italy at Schola Medica Salernitana throughout the Middle Ages, but at that time Bologna, Padua, and Salerno were not part of the same country.  Trota, a medical writer associated with Schola Medica Salernitana, was a disputed figure until further scholarship in the 1980s established Trota as a real historic woman.

Bettina and Novella D’Andrea

Art by Intagliogia (tumblr)

Bettina and Novella d’Andrea were the daughters of Giovanni d’Andrea, a noted expert in canon law.  Giovanni is said to have educated both his daughters to the level of a university lecturer.  

Bettina (d. 1355) married Giovanni di San Giorgio, a law professor at the University of Padua.  She is believed to have taught law and philosophy at the University of Padua.  

Novella (b. 1312) is believed to have taught her father’s classes at the University of Bologna when he was unavailable.  According to Christine de Pizan, Novella taught through a curtain so the students would not be distracted by her beauty.  

The careers of Bettina and Novella d’Andrea are disputed, although their father’s career is well documented.  Bettina’s grave describes her as the daughter and wife of scholars rather than as a scholar herself.  Novella’s story was recorded by Christine de Pizan about ninety years after Novella’s birth, but the same story of teaching behind a curtain in Bologna has also been told of Bettisia Gozzadini who lived in the eleventh century.  Dorotea Bucca held a chair in medicine and philosophy at the University of Bologna beginning in 1390.  Like Bettina and Novella, Dorotea’s father was a professor at the University of Bologna, but Dorotea was about fifty years younger than the d’Andrea sisters.  There were multiple female professors in southern Italy at Schola Medica Salernitana throughout the Middle Ages, but at that time Bologna, Padua, and Salerno were not part of the same country.  Trota, a medical writer associated with Schola Medica Salernitana, was a disputed figure until further scholarship in the 1980s established Trota as a real historic woman.

The grave of Bettina d’Andrea (1355)

Original Latin text:

sepulcrum domine bitine, filie qdam [quondam] domini iohanis andrea de bononia archidoctoris decretorum [et] uxoris domini iohanis de sancto georgio de bononia doctoris decreto[rum] que obiit anno domini MCCCLV die lune quinto octubris

Which roughly translates into English as:

The grave of Lady Bettina, daughter of master Giovanni d’Andrea from Bologna, great doctor in law, and wife of master Giovanni di San Giorgio from Bologna, doctor in law, who died in 1355, Monday 5th October

Big thanks to for the photos and translation.

Héloïse d’Argenteuil
Art by Elin Denise (tumblr)
Although she was a powerful abbess, Héloïse d’Argenteuil is best known as half of a tragic love story.  Héloïse was already an exceptionally learned young woman when she met Peter Abélard, a famous teacher.  Peter was attracted to Héloïse from the start and he convinced her uncle and guardian Fulbert to lodge him in exchange for tutoring Héloïse.  A clandestine sexual relationship developed and Héloïse became pregnant.  To appease Fulbert, the couple agreed to marry but demanded the marriage be kept secret so it would not harm Peter’s advancement in the Catholic Church. 
The couple covertly married and Peter’s sister adopted their son Astrolabe.  Héloïse went to stay at a convent which led Fulbert to believe she had been cast off by Peter.  Enraged, Fulbert and his friends broke into Peter’s room as he slept and castrated him.  Traumatized and shamed, Peter fled Paris and joined a monastery in Saint-Denis.  Although Héloïse did not feel called towards the religious life, under pressure from Peter, she took holy orders and became a nun.
For ten years there was no communication between the two as Peter advanced as a scholar and Héloïse rose to the rank of prioress.  In 1129, Héloïse’s group was forced out of their convent at Argenteuil.  Peter offered them the Oratory of the Paraclete, site of his former monastery, to start a new convent.  The two began a correspondence.  Héloïse’s letters were passionate and plaintive.  Peter’s responses encouraged her to direct her fervor towards God.  Eventually their correspondence lost its deep emotion, focusing more on the Héloïse’s role as abbess.
Peter’s career as a scholar ebbed and flowed over the years.  He was controversial enough to be briefly excommunicated before his death in 1142.  Héloïse became abbess and eventually grew her convent to include six daughter houses.  She died in 1164.   There is a monument to the couple at Père-Lachaise, although some believe one or both is buried at the Oratory of the Paraclete.  The fate of their son Astrolabe is almost entirely unknown, but a letter from Peter the Venerable to Héloïse suggests Astrolabe may have also joined the Church.
Notes: The couple is usually referred to as Héloïse and Abélard, but as Cool Chicks from History always uses first names the couple is referred to here as Héloïse and Peter.  For centuries Héloïse was believed to be 17 years old at the time of the affair while Peter was 36.   More recent scholarship suggests Héloïse was closer to age 27 when the affair began.

Héloïse d’Argenteuil

Art by Elin Denise (tumblr)

Although she was a powerful abbess, Héloïse d’Argenteuil is best known as half of a tragic love story.  Héloïse was already an exceptionally learned young woman when she met Peter Abélard, a famous teacher.  Peter was attracted to Héloïse from the start and he convinced her uncle and guardian Fulbert to lodge him in exchange for tutoring Héloïse.  A clandestine sexual relationship developed and Héloïse became pregnant.  To appease Fulbert, the couple agreed to marry but demanded the marriage be kept secret so it would not harm Peter’s advancement in the Catholic Church. 

The couple covertly married and Peter’s sister adopted their son Astrolabe.  Héloïse went to stay at a convent which led Fulbert to believe she had been cast off by Peter.  Enraged, Fulbert and his friends broke into Peter’s room as he slept and castrated him.  Traumatized and shamed, Peter fled Paris and joined a monastery in Saint-Denis.  Although Héloïse did not feel called towards the religious life, under pressure from Peter, she took holy orders and became a nun.

For ten years there was no communication between the two as Peter advanced as a scholar and Héloïse rose to the rank of prioress.  In 1129, Héloïse’s group was forced out of their convent at Argenteuil.  Peter offered them the Oratory of the Paraclete, site of his former monastery, to start a new convent.  The two began a correspondence.  Héloïse’s letters were passionate and plaintive.  Peter’s responses encouraged her to direct her fervor towards God.  Eventually their correspondence lost its deep emotion, focusing more on the Héloïse’s role as abbess.

Peter’s career as a scholar ebbed and flowed over the years.  He was controversial enough to be briefly excommunicated before his death in 1142.  Héloïse became abbess and eventually grew her convent to include six daughter houses.  She died in 1164.   There is a monument to the couple at Père-Lachaise, although some believe one or both is buried at the Oratory of the Paraclete.  The fate of their son Astrolabe is almost entirely unknown, but a letter from Peter the Venerable to Héloïse suggests Astrolabe may have also joined the Church.

Notes: The couple is usually referred to as Héloïse and Abélard, but as Cool Chicks from History always uses first names the couple is referred to here as Héloïse and Peter.  For centuries Héloïse was believed to be 17 years old at the time of the affair while Peter was 36.   More recent scholarship suggests Héloïse was closer to age 27 when the affair began.

Google Doodle celebrating the birthday of tennis player Althea Gibson (1927-2003).
Althea broke the color barrier as the first black person to compete at Wimbledon and US Nationals (precursor to the US Open).  She won a total of 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including repeated wins at US Nationals and Wimbledon.

Google Doodle celebrating the birthday of tennis player Althea Gibson (1927-2003).

Althea broke the color barrier as the first black person to compete at Wimbledon and US Nationals (precursor to the US Open).  She won a total of 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including repeated wins at US Nationals and Wimbledon.

siphotos:

Thirteen-year-old sensation Mo’ne Davis, who plays for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons, has become the first Little Leaguer to grace the national cover of Sports Illustrated. The 5-foot-4 inch, 111-pound eighth grader is not only taking the Little League World Series by storm, but also she has captured the nation’s attention. 
SI STAFF: More information on Mo’ne Davis cover GALLERY: View all of SI’s 2014 Covers 

siphotos:

Thirteen-year-old sensation Mo’ne Davis, who plays for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons, has become the first Little Leaguer to grace the national cover of Sports Illustrated. The 5-foot-4 inch, 111-pound eighth grader is not only taking the Little League World Series by storm, but also she has captured the nation’s attention. 

SI STAFF: More information on Mo’ne Davis cover 
GALLERY: View all of SI’s 2014 Covers 

Gertrude de Nivelles (circa 621-659)
Art by Ohthirdplanet (tumblr)
After the death of Gertrude’s father Pepin of Laden in 640, Gertrude’s mother Itta founded a Benedictine monastery in Nivelles, a town in present day Belgium.  According to some sources, Gertrude wanted to take religious orders from a young age.  Other accounts suggest Itta built the convent to protect her youngest daughter from the political instability of the region at the time.  Abbesses held great power in medieval Europe and their lands were generally safe from seizure. 
Itta and Gertrude monastery’s housed nuns and monks in neighboring buildings.  It was part of the growth of monastic life in seventh and eighth century Europe.  Itta ran the monastery until her death in 650, after which point Gertrude took control.  As abbesses, Gertrude built an extensive library and her monastery became known as a center for knowledge.
Gertrude died in 659 and although she was never formally canonized, Pope Clement XII declared March 17 her universal feast day.  Gertrude is the patron saint for traveler and cats and the patron saint against rats and mice.  

Gertrude de Nivelles (circa 621-659)

Art by Ohthirdplanet (tumblr)

After the death of Gertrude’s father Pepin of Laden in 640, Gertrude’s mother Itta founded a Benedictine monastery in Nivelles, a town in present day Belgium.  According to some sources, Gertrude wanted to take religious orders from a young age.  Other accounts suggest Itta built the convent to protect her youngest daughter from the political instability of the region at the time.  Abbesses held great power in medieval Europe and their lands were generally safe from seizure.

Itta and Gertrude monastery’s housed nuns and monks in neighboring buildings.  It was part of the growth of monastic life in seventh and eighth century Europe.  Itta ran the monastery until her death in 650, after which point Gertrude took control.  As abbesses, Gertrude built an extensive library and her monastery became known as a center for knowledge.

Gertrude died in 659 and although she was never formally canonized, Pope Clement XII declared March 17 her universal feast day.  Gertrude is the patron saint for traveler and cats and the patron saint against rats and mice.  

Wilder’s Little House books have always been understood to be the writer’s fictionalized autobiography, but the extent of the fictionalization has long been under discussion by readers and scholars. The publication of Pioneer Girl, edited and annotated by Hill, author ofthe award-wining biography, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life (South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2007) should go a long way towards resolving many of the details under debate.