May 15

Events in Women’s History

Theodelinda by Zavattari (source)

Theodelinda by Zavattari (source)

589 – Theodelinda, daughter of Duke Garibald I of Bavaria, marries Authari, King of the Lombards.

1536Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest.

1567Mary, Queen of Scots marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell.

1869Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.

1942 – In the United States, a bill creating the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.

1970 – Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington are appointed the first female United States Army Generals.

1991 – Édith Cresson becomes France’s first female prime minister.

2010 – Jessica Watson unofficially becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo. (Her route didn’t meet the criteria for circumnavigation of the globe set by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.)


 Williamina Stevens c. 1890, courtesy Harvard College Observatory (source)

Williamina Fleming c. 1890, courtesy Harvard College Observatory (source)

1689Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, English author, known primarily for her letters written from Turkey while her husband was the British ambassador (d. 1762)

1857 – Williamina Fleming, Scottish astronomer, catalogued thousands of stars, discovered the Horsehead Nebula (d. 1911)

1860 – Ellen Axson Wilson, American artist and First Lady of the United States as the first wife of Woodrow Wilson (d. 1914)

1863Annie Fellows Johnston, American children’s author, best known for “The Little Colonel” series, which was the basis for the Shirley Temple film of the same name (d. 1931)

1890 – Katherine Anne Porter, American journalist, author and political activist, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Collected Stories in 1965 (d. 1980)

1901 – Dorothy Hansine Andersen, American physician and educator, first person to identify cystic fibrosis, first American physician to describe it, inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (d. 1963)

1903 – Maria Reiche, German mathematician and archaeologist, known for her research into the Nazca Lines in Peru, helping to gain recognition for the site and its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 (d. 1998)

1909 – Clara Solovera, Chilean folk musician and composer (d. 1992)

1915 – Hilda Bernstein, British-born South African author, artist and activist against apartheid and for women’s rights (d. 2006)

1924 – Maria Koepcke, German-born Peruvian ornithologist; three species of birds are named in her honor. (d. 1971)

1930 – Grace Ogot, Kenyan nurse, author, journalist, politician and diplomat, delegate to the United Nations and UNESCO, helped found the Writers’ Association of Kenya, Member of Parliament and cabinet minister; she writes in both English and her native language of Luo

1936 – Anna Maria Alberghetti, Italian-American actress and operatic singer, Tony Award winner

1937 – Madeleine Albright, Czech-born American politician, diplomat and academic, first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

1938 – Diane Nash, American activist and strategist in the civil rights movement, involved in the Freedom riders, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Selma Voting Rights movement

1939 – Dorothy Shirley, British athlete, high jumper, and Olympic medalist


Emily Dickinson c. 1848 (source)

Emily Dickinson c. 1848 (source)

1698 – Marie Champmeslé, French actress, known for many famous roles, including many created for her by Jean Racine (b. 1642)

1792Maria Luisa of Spain, Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Germany, Hungary and Bohemia as wife of Leopold II (b. 1725)

1886 – Emily Dickinson, American poet; although the author of roughly 1800 poems, fewer than a dozen were published in her lifetime. (b. 1830)

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One thought on “May 15

  1. Another feminist who was born on May 15:

    1916 – Catherine East, American feminist, worker for Civil Service Commission and the first Presidential Advisory Commission on the Status of Women; used her access to official data to disprove claims of opponents to feminist-advocated legislation, and helped reconcile differences between labor activists and feminists; Legislative Director of the National Women’s Political Caucus; Betty Friedan called her “the midwife of the contemporary women’s movement”

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