December 4

Events in Women’s History

1777 – George Washington’s troops at White Marsh are prepared for what was supposed to be a surprise attack because of the actions of Lydia Darrah. She feigned sleep and overheard plans being made by British troops quartered in her house. She then crossed the British lines to get the message to the Continental Army. The story is unsubstantiated, but fun.


Jane Griffin, later Lady Jane Franklin, at age 24 in 1816 by Amelie Romilly

Jane Griffin, later Lady Jane Franklin, at age 24 in 1816 by Amelie Romilly (source)

1711 – Barbara of Portugal, Queen of Spain as wife of Ferdinand VI (d. 1758)

1777 – Juliette Récamier, French society leader (d. 1849)

1791 – Jane, Lady Franklin, explorer and pioneer of Tasmania (d. 1875)

1861 – Lillian Russell, American actress and singer (d. 1922)

1865 – Edith Cavell, British nurse, executed for helping Allied soldiers escape over enemy lines during WWI (d. 1915)

1883 – Katharine Susannah Prichard, Australian author (d. 1969)

1903 – Anna van der Vegt, Dutch gymnast (d. 1983)

1917 – Movita Castaneda, American actress

1921 – Deanna Durbin, Canadian-French actress and singer (d. 2013)

1928 – Dena Dietrich, American actress

1938 – Yvonne Minton, Australian soprano

1959 – Christa Luding-Rothenburger, speed skater, track cyclist and Olympic medalist for East Germany and for Germany after reunification.


1696 – Empress Meishō, the seventh of eight women to rule Japan as Empress regnant according to the traditional order of succession (b. 1624)

1926 – Ivana Kobilca, Slovenian painter (b. 1861)

1975 – Hannah Arendt, German-American theorist (b. 1906)

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Ivana Kobilca, self-portrait c. 1910

Ivana Kobilca, self-portrait c. 1910 (source)

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