August 31

Events in Women’s History

Byzantine coin showing Jesus Christ on the left and Theodora on the right

Byzantine coin showing Jesus Christ on the left and Theodora on the right (source)

1056 – After a sudden illness, Byzantine Empress Theodora dies childless, thus ending the Macedonian dynasty. She was co-ruler with her sister Zoe briefly in 1042, then Empress regnant from 11 January 1055 to 31 August 1056.


Maria Montessori, 1913

Maria Montessori c. 1913 (source)

1602 – Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, wife of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange; she was influential at court in The Hague; after her son’s death she was the primary guardian of her grandson William III of Orange, later William III of England. (d. 1675)

1775 – Agnes Bulmer, English poet, known for the epic poem Messiah’s Kingdom (d. 1836)

1827 – Anna Bartlett Warner, American author and hymn writer; her best known work is the children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” (d. 1915)

1842 – Mary Putnam Jacobi, American physician, author and suffragist, leading spokeswoman for women’s health during the Progressive Era, placed emphasis on scientific research rather than traditional or anecdotal evidence (d. 1906)

1842 – Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, American publisher, journalist, suffragist and civil rights activist, editor of Women’s Era, the first newspaper published by and for African-American women, founder of the National Federation of Afro-American Women and the Women’s Era Club, co-founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association (d. 1924)

1844 – Elizabeth Phelps Ward, American author and feminist, known for challenging traditional religious beliefs and women’s roles, advocate for women’s clothing reform (d. 1911)

1870 – Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator, known for her philosophy of education which is still in use today (d. 1952)

1879 – Alma Mahler, Austrian-American socialite and composer, salon hostess for artists in both Vienna and Los Angeles (d. 1964)

1880 – Wilhelmina, Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; she reigned during WWI, WWII and the decline of Dutch colonial power.(d. 1962)

1893 – Lily Laskine, French harpist, professor at the Conservatoire de Paris, recipient of the Legion of Honour in 1958 (d. 1988)

1913 – Helen Levitt, American photographer, known primarily for street photography in and around New York City (d. 2009)

1919 – Amrita Preetam, Indian poet and author, wrote in Punjabi and Hindi, considered one of the leading 20th century Punjabi-language poets, wrote over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, folk songs and her autobiography (d. 2005)

1936 – Marva Collins, American educator and lecturer, founder of Westside Preparatory School in Chicago, Illinois, known for successfully providing a classical education to students from poverty and those often wrongly labeled as learning disabled, subject of the made-for-TV movie The Marva Collins Story


Mary Ward, Wikimedia Commons

Mary Ward (source)

1869 – Mary Ward, Irish scientist was killed when she fell under the wheels of an experimental steam car (b. 1827)

1941 – Marina Tsvetaeva, Russian poet, considered one of the greatest in 20th century Russian literature, known for writing about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine; in 1941, her husband was executed on charges of espionage and Marina committed suicide. (b. 1892)

1954 – Elsa Barker, American author and poet; she is known primarily for three books which she said were messages from a dead man received through automatic writing: Letters from a Living Dead Man, War Letters from a Living Dead Man, and Last Letters from a Living Dead Man. (b. 1869)

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