Category Archives: #miniBios

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, poet plus

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a well renowned Victorian poet was born on March 6, 1806 in Durham, England, the eldest of 12 siblings, to a wealthy family. She is well known for many of her works, not the least of which being Sonnet 43, How do I love thee. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost […]

Read More

Andrée Raymonde Borrel, female agent extraordinaire

Andrée Raymonde Borrel was born on November 18, 1919 into a working-class family in the Parisian suburb of Bécon-les-Bruères.  Her father passed away when she was 11 which led her to quit school in order to work for a dress designer at the age of 14.  Through a series of moves, she and her family came to Toulon on the Mediterranean coast in October 1929. When World War II broke out, she volunteered to work with the Red Cross.  She finished a crash course in nursing on January 20, 1940, which qualified her to serve as a nurse in the Association des Dames Françaises.  Fifteen days after arrive at Hôpital Complémentaire in Nîmes she was sent back following a decree requiring nurses working in hospitals to be at least 21.  A few days later the decree was revoked and she was sent to the Hôpital de Beaucaire.  It was here […]

Read More

Sally Hemings, one of the many things about slavery…

The article “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, A Brief Account“, available on the official website for the Monticello Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia, begins “Years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson fathered at least six of Sally Heming’s children.” and ends with “Questions remain about the nature of the relationship that existed between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings…”. In that framework, the schizophrenia of the evolution of the American story of slavery is clear. Sally’s story is too complex, too clouded by bad guardians of history, and too shrouded in a romantic idea of the choice a slave could have to do it justice in such a small piece, but too important not to bring into the light of day by anyone who can boost the signal. If you are unfamiliar with her story, I encourage you to continue your research. Her connection to the very founding of this country so […]

Read More

Maggie Lena Walker, banker/activist extraordinaire!

Maggie Lena Walker was born Maggie Lena Draper in Richmond, Virginia on July 15, 1864 to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave and assistant cook for Elizabeth Van Lew, an abolitionist, and Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish American who had met her mother on the Van Lew estate.  Her parents were never married.  Her mother married William Mitchell, the butler of the Van Lew estate in 1870 and shortly after the family moved away from the estate to a small house of their own.   In 1876 William drown in a river.  His death, ruled a suicide by police but contested in the mind of Maggie, left the family in severe poverty.  Her mother began a laundry business where Maggie assisted with cleaning the laundry for their white patrons.  During this time she became increasingly aware of the disparity between the quality of life for people of color vs whites, an awareness […]

Read More

Phillis Wheatley, first female black poet

Phillis Wheatley, the first known published female black poet in the United States, was born 1753 in West Africa.  In 1761, against her will she brought to New England and sold to John Wheatley of Boston.  The Wheatley’s, taking an interest in her education and her precocious nature, allowed her to learn to read and write, in which she became proficient by the age of nine.  Modelling her works after John Milton, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope, she began writing poetry at the age of thirteen.  Her first published poem “On the Death the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” was published in many major cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and London.  Over the course of the next few years, she continued to print a number of such broadsides elegizing prominent British and colonial leaders. In 1771, at the suggestion of her doctor, she accompanied Nathalie Wheatley to London where she […]

Read More

Katie Mulcahey and the whim of an insecure man

It is important in our search for our female heroes lost to history that we do not ignore the “working class” heroes; those beautiful souls, having little to no resources (comparatively speaking), who encounter oppression and refuse to bend to its momentum. Katie Mulcahey is one such hero. Although we do not know much of her life, court records tells us she had character and brains. Her claim to fame? She beat back a new oppression on women’s liberties simply by being unaware of a law, breaking said law, and ultimately vindicating the women of New York City when she beat the charges. On January 21, 1908, “Little Tim”, New York City Alderman Timothy Sullivan, saw his Sullivan’s Act put into place which restricted women from smoking in public, which he deemed to be a sign of immorality and loose character in women, but notably not in men. The following […]

Read More