July 21

Events in Women’s History

1656 – Elizabeth Key Grinstead wins her lawsuit gaining her freedom and that of her son from slavery. Their argument was based on the fact that her father was an Englishman and she was a Christian. The Virginia House of Burgesses later passed laws stating that the status of children would follow that of the mother, not the father.

1960Sirima Bandaranaike took office as the Prime Minister of Ceylon becoming the first female head of government in the modern world. She later served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka as well.

Births

Maria Christina of Austria, Queen consort of Spain

Maria Christina of Austria, Queen consort of Spain c. 1891 (source)

1653 – Sarah Good, American woman accused of witchcraft; one of the first three women accused and executed during the Salem witch trials (d. 1692)

1858 – Maria Christina of Austria, Queen consort of Spain as wife of Alfonso XII, regent during the minority of her son Alfonso XIII (d. 1929)

1864 – Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston, First Lady of the United States as wife of Grover Cleveland (d. 1947)

1898 – Sara Carter, American singer-songwriter, inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame (Carter Family) (d. 1979)

1922 – Kay Starr, American singer, popular in jazz, pop, and country genres, known for the songs “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Rock and Roll Waltz”; Billie Holiday called her “the only white woman who could sing the blues”

1922 – Mollie Sugden, British actress, known for her role as Mrs. Slocombe in the sitcom Are You Being Served? (d. 2009)

1930 – Helen Merrill, American singer, internationally known jazz vocalist, particularly popular in Japan and Italy

1935 – Kaye Stevens, American singer and actress; she got her break when she filled in for Debbie Reynolds at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas (d. 2011)

1938 – Janet Reno, American lawyer and politician, first woman to serve as United States Attorney General

Deaths

Ruth St. Denis, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress (source)

Ruth St. Denis, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress (source)

1968 – Ruth St. Denis, American dancer and choreographer, known for introducing eastern ideas into modern dance, co-founder of the American Denishawn School of Dance (b. 1878)

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