February 21

Events in Women’s History

1846 – Sarah G Bagley, thought to be the first woman telegrapher, becomes superintendent of the Lowell, Mass telegraph office.


Catharina of Württemberg by Johann Baptist Seele (source)

Catharina of Württemberg by Johann Baptist Seele (source)

1397Isabel of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy as third wife of Duke Philip the Good, , served as regent in the absence of her husband, mother of Charles the Bold, the last Valois Duke of Burgundy, represented her husband in trade negotiations (d. 1471)

1621 – Rebecca Nurse, English-American victim of the Salem witch trials (d. 1692)

1783 – Catharina of Württemberg, Queen consort of Westphalia, Princess of Montfort, second wife of Jerome Bonaparte (d. 1835)

1845 – Emma Thursby, American singer (d. 1931)

1855 – Alice Freeman Palmer, American educator, advocate of higher education for women, college professor, President of Wellesley College, the first woman president of a nationally known college (d. 1902)

1875 – Jeanne Calment, French super-centenarian (d. 1997)

1878 – Mirra Alfassa, Indian spiritual leader, founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram (d. 1973)

1893 – Celia Lovsky, Austrian-American actress (d. 1979)

1900 – Madeleine Renaud, French actress (d. 1994)

1903 – Anaïs Nin, French-born American author (d. 1977)

1927 – Erma Bombeck, American columnist (d. 1996)

1933 – Nina Simone, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2003)

1934 – Rue McClanahan, American actress (d. 2010)

1936 – Barbara Jordan, American politician (d. 1996)

1942 – Margarethe von Trotta, German actress and director

1945 – D’Anna Fortunato, American mezzo-soprano

1947 – Olympia Snowe, American politician


1919 – Mary Edwards Walker, American feminist, abolitionist, suffragist, alleged spy, prisoner of war and surgeon, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor and one of only eight civilians to receive it (b. 1832)

1972 – Bronislava Nijinska, Polish-Russian dancer and choreographer (b. 1891)

1981 – Erika Köth, German soprano (b. 1927)

1986 – Helen Hooven Santmyer, American author (b. 1895)

1991 – Dorothy Auchterlonie, Australian academic, critic, and poet (b. 1915)

1991 – Nutan Behl, Indian actress (b. 1936)

1991 – Dame Margot Fonteyn, British ballerina, appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta by Queen Elizabeth II, regarded as one of the best classical ballet dancers of all time (b. 1919)

1999Gertrude Belle Elion, American biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1988 (b. 1918)

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Mary Edwards Walker

Mary Edwards Walker (source)

3 thoughts on “February 21

  1. February 21, 1846 – Believed to be the 1st US woman telegrapher, Sarah G Bagley becomes superintendent of the Lowell, Mass telegraph office.

  2. 1431 – Jean D’Arc’s trial begins
    1953 – Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and James Watson discover DNA; classic case of Matilda Effect – her work was not recognized and James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel prize for the discovery

  3. born:
    * 1987 – Ellen Page, American actress
    * 1996– Sophie Turner, British actress (of Game of Thrones fame)

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