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Labor & Employment

Roller Derby Girl Breastfeeds - "It is not really about the choices of individual mothers and their babies. It is about women being considered as important.. as normal as men. We are all made stronger when a woman can breastfeed, in public, as a member of her community, while getting the job done. Because when that happens it says that women belong, it says that women’s bodies belong, it says that women are here."

child working in a mill during the industrial revolution

September 1938. "Farm wife washing clothes. Lake Dick Project, Arkansas." 35mm negative by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration.

This photograph was taken in 1938, and shows a woman cooking over an old wood burning stove.

Elin Wägner standing next to 351,454 signatures demanding women get the right to vote. Sweden 1914

Wash Day, mother and daughter, America, 1870

“Stagecoach” Mary Fields (c. 1832-1914) was born a slave in Tennessee and following the Civil War, she moved to the pioneer community of Cascade, Montana. In 1895, when she was around 60 years old, Fields became the second woman and first African American carrier for the US Postal Service. Despite her age, she never missed a day of work in the ten years she carried the mail and earned the nickname “Stagecoach” for her reliability. Fields loved the job, despite the many dangers and difficulties such as wolves and thieves (she was an excellent marksman, defending her route with a revolver and a rifle). The people of Cascade so loved and respected Fields, that each year on her birthday they closed the schools to celebrate the occasion. They even built her a new house when she lost her home in a fire in 1912.

Josephine Baker In 1935 Baker returned to the US to star in the Ziegfield Follies. Even though she was a major celebrity in Europe, White American audiences and critics were not ready to accept the image of an African American woman as a sophisticated, glamorous persona. Her performances received poor reviews, with the NY Times going so far as to call her a “Negro wench.” Baker returned to Paris in 1937, married Frenchman Jean Lion, and became a French citizen and permanent expatriate.

ELIZABETH BLACKWELL (1821 – 1910) First Female Doctor Elizabeth Blackwell applied to thirteen medical schools. She was rejected outright from every one of them because she was a woman. Finally, the faculty of Geneva College in upstate New York (now Hobart College) asked the students to decide Blackwell’s fate. They unanimously agreed to admit her because they thought her application was a joke. In 1846, Blackwell matriculated, and she graduated two years later, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

Annie Kenney, (1879 - 1953) Suffragette who spent three days in prison for daring to ask Churchill and Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote. Neither man replied.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin, (1838-1927) was an American leader of the woman's suffrage movement. Woodhull was an advocate of free love. She and her sister were the first women to operate a brokerage in Wall Street. She was the first woman to start a weekly newspaper; an activist for women's rights and labor reforms. In 1872, she was the first woman candidate for President of the United States.

Irena Sendler 1910-2008. Irena was a Polish social worker during WWII. Assisted by other Żegota members, Sendler saved 2500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them with false documents, and finding shelter for them. In 1943, She was arrested, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children.

In 1953, Jerrie Cobb is the first woman in the U.S. to undergo astronaut testing. NASA, however, cancels the women's program in 1963. It is not until 1983 that an American woman gets sent into space.

JOSEPHINE COCHRANE 1839-1913. In the 1870s, after her servants chipped some of the dishes ,while washing them, Cochrane refused to let them handled the china any more. One morning while up to her elbows in soap suds, she had an epiphany. Why not invent a dish washing machine? She received her first patent on the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Machine December 28, 1886. In 1916, her company was bought out by Hobart which became KitchenAid and is now Whirlpool Corporation.

A Female Mason Perched High above Berlin, circa 1910 “With the rise of industrialization, the number of German women who worked outside the home also increased. This usually meant factory work. But in some families with their own businesses, daughters also learned a trade so that they could help out: here, we see a master-mason’s daughter during the renovation work on the old city hall tower in Berlin.”

Art Contrarian: Walter H. Everett - 'Washerwoman'