July 17

Events in Women’s History

Catherine c. 1845 by Georg Christoph Grooth (source)

Catherine c. 1845 by Georg Christoph Grooth (source)

1762 – Catherine II becomes tsar of Russia upon the murder of Peter III of Russia. Although Catherine had been proclaimed Empress eight days before after a bloodless coup, Peter III was murdered on July 17 and Catherine succeeded him as Empress regnant.

1794 – The sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne (11 nuns, three lay sisters and two externs) are executed during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.


Berenice Abbott in 1979 by Hank O'Neal (source)

Berenice Abbott in 1979 by Hank O’Neal (source)

1898 – Berenice Abbott, American photographer and poet, known for black-and-white photos of New York City in her “Changing New York” project (d. 1991)

1902 – Christina Stead, Australian author and screenwriter, known for the novel The Man Who Loved Children (d. 1983)

1910 – Barbara O’Neil, American actress, known for her role as Ellen O’Hara (Scarlett’s mother) in Gone with the Wind, Academy Award nominee for All This, and Heaven (d. 1980)

1917 – Phyllis Diller, American actress and comedian, known for her eccentric hair, clothes and stage persona (d. 2012)

1917 – Christiane Rochefort, French journalist and author, press attache to the Cannes Film Festival, her first novel, Le Repos du guerrier (The Warrior’s Rest) was a best seller and adapted into a film (d. 1998)

1921 – Mary Osborne, American jazz guitarist (d. 1992)

1921 – Toni Stone, the first of three women to play Negro league baseball; she played professionally from 1949 to 1953 when she quit to be a nurse and care for her ill husband. (d. 1996)

1924 – Olive Ann Burns, American author and journalist, wrote for the Atlanta Journal under the pseudonym Amy Larkin; known for her only novel Cold Sassy Tree, although an unfinished sequel, Leaving Cold Sassy, was published posthumously (d. 1990)

1932 – Karla Kuskin, American author and illustrator of children’s books, book reviewer for The New York Times Book Review (d. 2009)

1935 – Diahann Carroll, American stage, film and television actress and singer, starred on Broadway, in some of the earliest films casting black actors, and in Julia, one of the first television series starring an African American woman; recipient of many awards and honors including a Tony Award for Best Actress and the 1968 Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star.


Jadwiga of Poland by Antoni Piotrowski (source)

Jadwiga of Poland by Antoni Piotrowski (source)

1399 – Jadwiga, King of Poland; the title king indicated that she ruled in her own right. Although venerated for many years in Poland, she was finally canonized in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. (b. 1373/4)

1793 – Charlotte Corday, French revolutionary and assassin, executed by guillotine for the murder of Jean-Paul Marat an enemy of the Girondins during The French Revolution (b. 1768)

1887 – Dorothea Dix, American nurse and activist, advocate of the mentally ill, created first generation of American mental institutions, Superintendent of Army Nurses during the Civil War (b. 1802)

1918 – Family of Nicholas II of Russia (b. 1868)

  • Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (b. 1872)
  • Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna (b. 1895)
  • Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna (b. 1897)
  • Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (b. 1899)
  • Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna (b. 1901)
  • Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich (b. 1904)

1950 – Evangeline Booth, British missionary, first woman to be General of The Salvation Army, daughter of William and Catherine Booth (b. 1865)

1959 – Billie Holiday, American jazz singer-songwriter and actress, known as “Lady Day” and for her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues (b. 1915)

2001 – Katharine Graham, American publisher, led her family’s newspaper, The Washington Post, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir Personal History (b. 1917)

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Nicholas II of Russia with the family (left to right): Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Livadiya, 1913.

Nicholas II of Russia with the family (left to right): Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Livadiya, 1913 (source)

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