October 17

Events in Women’s History

I am unaware of any significant events in Women’s History on this date. If you know of one, please leave a comment so that I can add it. Thank you!


Elizabeth Van Lew, Photo: US National Park Service

Elizabeth Van Lew (source)

1720 – Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini, Italian composer, harpsichordist and singer; she often performed in gatherings where her more famous sister, Maria Gaetana Agnesi lectured (d. 1795)

1818 – Elizabeth L. Van Lew, Richmond, VA resident and Civil War spy (d. 1900)

1853 – Maria Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia (by birth), Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess of Edinburgh as wife of Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, and mother of Queen Marie of Romania (d. 1920)

1864 – Elinor Glyn, British author and scriptwriter, specialized in risqué fiction and popularized the concept of “It” women and men (d. 1943)

1868Sophia Hayden Bennett, American architect, first woman to receive an architecture degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, designed the Woman’s Building at the World Columbian Exposition in 1893 (d. 1953)

1895 – Doris Humphrey, dancer and choreographer, considered part of the second generation of modern dance pioneers (d. 1958)

1902 – Irene Ryan, American actress, successful in vaudeville, radio, film, television and on Broadway. She had a sixty year career, but may be best known as “Granny” on TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.  (d. 1973)

1918 – Rita Hayworth, American actress and dancer, achieved her fame in the 1940s and is listed in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Stars of All Time (d. 1987)

1921 – Priscilla Buckley, American author, managing editor of National Review (d. 2012)

1921 – Maria Gorokhovskaya, Soviet gymnast and Olympic medalist (d. 2001)

1926 – Beverly Garland, American film and television actress, hotel owner and businesswoman (d. 2008)

1933 – Jeanine Deckers, Belgian nun and singer (d. 1985)

1936 – Sathima Bea Benjamin, South African singer-songwriter, received the Order of Ikhamanga Silver Award from South African president Thabo Mbeki for her “excellent contribution as a jazz artist” and her contribution to “the struggle against apartheid.” (d. 2013)

1942 – Vilma Socorro Martinez, American lawyer, civil rights activist, and US Ambassador to Argentina until July 4, 2013

1956 – Mae Jemison, physician, astronaut, first African-American woman in space


Yaa Asantewaa in ceremonial war dress (source)

Yaa Asantewaa in ceremonial war dress (source)

33 – Agrippina the Elder, Roman wife of Germanicus (b. 14 BCE)

1174 – Petronilla of Aragon, Queen of Aragon (b. 1135)

1868 – Laura Secord, Canadian war heroine. During the War of 1812, she walked 20 miles out of American-occupied territory to warn the British of an impending attack.  (b. 1775)

1891Sarah Winnemucca, Native American activist and educator, known for being the first Native American woman to obtain a copyright and publish in English (b. 1844)

1910 – Julia Ward Howe, American abolitionist, poet and the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (b. 1819)

1921 – Yaa Asantewaa, Queen mother of the Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire, part of modern-day Ghana, led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool (b. circa 1840)

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