Women You Should Know

May 2, 1676, Mary Rowlandson and her two children were released after having been captured by Indians in King Philip’s War. Mary’s six-year-old daughter did not survive the ordeal. In 1682, an account of her captivity was published as A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.

Reference: Rowlandson, M. W. (1977). A true history of the captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Garland library of narratives of North American Indian captivities. Garland Publishers.

May 16, 1718, Marie Agnesi, mathematician and philosopher was born. Ms. Agnesi was the first woman to write a mathematics book. As well, she was the first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at a university. In 1748, Instituzioni Analitiche was published and comprised of over 1,000 pages within its two volumes. In 1759, Maria used her success and wealth to help the less fortunate by establishing a home for the poor. By the time of her death in 1799, Maria had given away all of her possessions to the poor and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Reference: Agnesi, M. G. (1748). Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventu Italiana. Milan.

May 16, 1770, Marie Antoinette was just 14 years old when she married France’s future King Louis XVI, who was only 15 years old at the time.

May 23, 1810, Margaret Fuller, writer, journalist and reformer was born.
The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency. – Margaret Fuller

May 23, 1846, Arabella Mansfield was born in Burlington, Iowa. In 1869, Arabella was the first woman admitted to the bar in the United States. In 1870, Arabella helped found the Iowa Woman’s Sufferage Association, which worked to gain voting rights for women. In 1879, she moved to Indiana and taught at Indiana Asbury University. Arabella became the Dean of the School of Art in 1893. In 1894, she became Dean of the School of Music. She maintained both positions until her death in 1911.

May 9, 1844, Maria Isabella Boyd was captured and imprisoned for passing information on the Union Army activities in the Shenandoah area to General T. J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson). She was later released from imprisonment. Her book, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison details her exploits as a spy.

Reference: Boyd, M. I. (1998). Belle Boyd in camp and prison. Louisiana State University Press.

May 16, 1920, Joan of Arc was canonized by the Church of Rome. Joan followed God’s will despite criticism and persecution. She was labeled a witch, because she claimed to hear voices and see angels who prophesized events. Following a trial for heresy, Joan was imprisoned and then burnt at the stake.

May 16, 1929, Adrienne Rich, poet and activist was born.
I am a feminist because I feel endangered, psychically and physically, by this society and because I believe that the women’s movement is saying that we have come to an edge of history when men – insofar as they are embodiments of the patriarchal idea – have become dangerous to children and other living things, themselves included. – Adrienne Rich