May 8

Events in Women’s History

Post card issued by Northern Pacific Railway for Mother's Day 1915 (source)

Post card issued by Northern Pacific Railway for Mother’s Day 1915 (source)

1865 – Mary Harris Thompson opens the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children. Of the two existing hospitals in Chicago, neither allowed women on staff, and one didn’t allow women patients. Thompson initially opened the hospital to treat widows and orphans of the Civil War.

1914 – The second Sunday in May is designated as Mother’s Day by the U.S. Congress.

1946 – Aili Jürgenson and Ageeda Paavel, Estonian students, blow up a Soviet War memorial in response to the destruction of Estonian war memorials of those who had fallen in the Estonian War of Independence. They were captured, exiled from Estonia and sent to labor camps in the Soviet Union. In 1998, they were awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle for their fight against the Soviet regime.


Mary Lou Williams c. 1946 by William Gottlieb (source)

Mary Lou Williams c. 1946 by William Gottlieb (source)

1326 – Joan I, Countess of Auvergne, Queen consort of France as wife of John II (d. 1360)

1835 – Augusta Jane Evans – American novelist, known for southern literature and support for the Confederate cause during the Civil War, inductee to the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame (d. 1909)

1910 – Mary Lou Williams, American jazz pianist, arranger and composer, recorded over 100 records, wrote and arranged for Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and others, Grammy nominee (d. 1981)

1929 – Girija Devi, Indian classical singer, known for the genre thumri, served on the faculty of ITC Sangeet Research Academy and Banaras Hindu University, recipient of many awards including the Padma Bhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award

1930 – Heather Harper CBE, British operatic soprano

1932 – Julieta Campos, Cuban-born Mexican author, recipient of the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia (d. 2007)

1932 – Phyllida Law, Scottish actress and author

1935 – Princess Elisabeth of Denmark

1940 – Toni Tennille, American singer-songwriter (Captain & Tennille)


Natalija Obrenović, Queen of Serbia c. 1875 (source)

Natalija Obrenović, Queen of Serbia c. 1875 (source)

1668 – Catherine of St. Augustine, French nun, instrumental in founding the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1989 (b. 1632)

1891 – Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Russian author and Theosophist, known for her research into spiritual traditions and the resulting works The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled among others (b. 1831)

1941 – Natalija Obrenović, Queen consort of Serbia as wife of Milan Obrenović IV (b. 1859)

1944 – Dame Ethel Smyth, British composer and women’s suffrage activist, known for her composition of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s anthem The March of the Women (b. 1858)

1955 – Maud Wood Park, American suffragist and women’s rights activist, co-founded the College Equal Suffrage League to attract younger women to the cause of suffrage (b. 1871)

1984 – Lila Bell Wallace, American publisher and philanthropist, co-founder of Reader’s Digest, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts (b. 1890)

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