April 1

Events in Women’s History

528 – The unnamed daughter and only child of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei, succeeded her father as “Emperor.” Her grandmother, Empress Dowager Hu, had declared her male and therefore the legitimate heir. She was immediately dethroned and succeeded by Yuan Zhao the next day.


Irene Morales c. 1881 by Eugenio Courret (source)

Irene Morales c. 1881 by Eugenio Courret (source)

1776Sophie Germain, French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher (d. 1831)

1865 – Irene Morales, Chilean seamstress, soldier, and nurse during the War of the Pacific against Bolivia (d. 1890)

1866 – Sophonisba Breckenridge, American lawyer, educator, social scientist and social reformer, first woman admitted to the Kentucky bar, first woman to graduate from the University of Chicago law school, first woman admited to the Order of the Coif (d. 1948)

1877 – Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, American educator and activist, first woman moderator of the American Unitarian Association, president of Mills College, president of the American Association of University Women (d. 1948)

1884 – Florence A. Blanchfield, United States Army Colonel, superintendent of the Army Nursing Corps, first woman commissioned in the regular army, recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Florence Nightingale Medal from the Internation Red Cross (d. 1971)

1884 – Laurette Taylor, American stage and silent film actress (d. 1946)

1885 – Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill (in her own right,) wife of Winston Churchill (d. 1977)

1893 – Dame Cicely Courtneidge, British actress and comedienne for stage, film and music halls (d. 1980)

1895 – Alberta Hunter, American blues singer, songwriter and nurse, performed in concert and musicals in both the United States and Europe (d. 1984)

1897 – Nita Naldi, American silent film actress, known primarily for femme fatale roles (d. 1961)

1902 – Maria Polydouri, Greek poet (d. 1930)

1926 – Anne McCaffrey, American-born Irish author, best known for science fiction writing, first woman to win a Hugo Award and the first to win a Nebula Award, Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (d. 2011)

1929 – Jane Powell, American stage and film actress, singer, and dancer

1931 – Ita Ever, Estonian stage, film, television and radio actress

1932 – Debbie Reynolds, American actress, singer, and dancer; she has received many awards and nominations including the Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy from the American Comedy Awards

1940 – Wangari Muta Maathai, Kenyan political and environmental activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 (d. 2011)


Giuditta Pasta (source)

Giuditta Pasta (source)

1204Eleanor of Aquitaine, Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, Queen consort of France as wife of Louis VII, Queen consort of England as wife of Henry II, very wealthy and powerful woman during the Middle Ages (b. 1122)

1797 Giuditta Pasta, Italian operatic soprano; she began her career as a contralto and became a soprano sfogato. She was considered one of the greatest opera singers of her time. (d. 1865)

1868 – Rasoherina, Queen consort of Madagascar as wife of Radama II, Queen regnant after Radama’s death from 1863 to her death (b. 1814)

1916 – Gabrielle Petit, Belgian Red Cross volunteer and spy for the British Secret Service during WWI, arrested for these activities and executed by firing squad (b. 1893)

1965 – Helena Rubinstein, Polish-born American businesswoman, founder of Helena Rubinstein, Incorporated (b. 1870)

1971 – Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, Irish scientist, crystallographer, first woman president of the International Union of Crystallography, first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (b. 1903)

1991 – Martha Graham, American dancer and choreographer, worked for over 70 years in this capacity, recipient of many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Key to the City of Paris, Japan’s Order of the Precious Crown, and the National Medal of Arts (b. 1894)

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