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Explore : women

Engagements

For the Female Phone Operators of World War I, a Woman’s Place Was on the Front Lines

By Making the World Safe for Democracy, the "Hello Girls" Boosted Suffrage Back Home

L-R: Berthe Hunt, Esther “Tootsie” Fresnel, and Grace Banker run Gen. John Pershing’s switchboard at First Army headquarters. Note the helmets and gas masks hanging from their chairs. Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

By Elizabeth Cobbs
June 1, 2017

In 1917, U.S. Secretary of War Newton Baker disliked the idea of female workers on Army bases so intensely that he didn’t even want to build toilets for them. They might tarry. Females did not belong in the Army, Baker thought, though the more forward-thinking U.S. Navy already had welcomed women into its ranks to replace men in landlubber assignments.

Many adventurous and patriotic young women longed to defend their country during the Great War. They discovered that if they wanted …

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Places

Why the Winchester Gun Heiress Created a Victorian Mansion Designed to Be Haunted

Ghosts and Guilt Compelled the Wealthy Widow to Build San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House

Hagg on Winchester LEAD

By Pamela Haag
July 5, 2016

Once the United States’ largest private residence and the most expensive to build, today you could almost miss it. The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, sits between the eight lanes of the I-280 freeway, a mobile home park, and the remains of a space age Century 23 movie theater. The world has changed around it, but the mansion remains stubbornly and defiantly what it always was.

Each time I visit the Mystery House I try to envision …

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Ideas

What Do Readers Want From the Lives of American Women?

Over the Decades, the Expectations of Female Biography Subjects Have Changed, but Not as Much as We Might Think

Showalter on Women copy LEAD

By Elaine Showalter
June 21, 2016

A hundred years ago, in March 1916, the first biography of Julia Ward Howe was published to general acclaim. Written by Howe’s three daughters, Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910 was the first major biography of an American woman, and set a high standard. In 1917, it received the first Pulitzer Prize for biography; not until 1986 would another biography of an American woman by a woman (Louise Bogan by Elizabeth Frank) win the award. Writing my own study of Howe’s life, …

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Identities

How One of Nixon’s Greatest Critics Changed Journalism

Mary McGrory Opened the Door for Women in the Political Newsroom—and Angered Plenty of People in the Process

Norris on McGrory cropped for WIMTBA

By John Norris
December 8, 2015

In 1973, when the Watergate hearings were at full pitch, word leaked to reporters that Richard Nixon’s White House counsel was going to release the president’s now-infamous “Enemies List”—an index of his 20 greatest political opponents.

Barry Kalb, who was covering the hearings for the Washington Star, contacted the lawyer representing the White House counsel. “I will never tell anybody where I got it,” Kalb pestered, “Have we got anybody on the list?”

The lawyer’s response was brief: “Mary McGrory.” Her name …

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Identities

The Woman Who Built the Waldorf of the Catskills

Despite Her Humble Origins, Jennie Grossinger Learned to Play the Role of Hostess

Silverman Catskills Waldorf Lead for WIMTBA

By Stephen M. Silverman
October 22, 2015

Just as in Casablanca everybody came to Rick’s, so in the Catskill Mountains of New York everybody aspired to go to Jennie’s.

In its storied 1914-to-1986 existence, Jennie Grossinger’s family boarding house was called Longbrook House (the original name when the Galician Jews first started to rent out the spare bedrooms of their rundown farmhouse), Grossinger’s Terrace Hill House, Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel (which built upon the original framework of the Terrace Hill House), and then finally, at the peak of …

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Ideas

The Tenacious Woman Who Helped Deliver Mother’s Day to the U.S.

For Anna Jarvis, a Holiday Devoted to Moms Was Not Sentimental Fluff, But a Practical Exercise in Patriotism

Anna Jarvis, Mother's Day founder

By Katharine Lane Antolini
May 8, 2015

One hundred years ago last May, President Woodrow Wilson signed the first congressional resolution and presidential proclamation calling upon all citizens to display the national flag in honor of American mothers on the second Sunday in May. But the credit for Mother’s Day’s popularity belongs to Anna Jarvis, who organized the first official Mother’s Day services on the morning of May 10, 1908, in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia, and later in the afternoon in her adopted hometown of …

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