Chandrika Narayan Homeworks





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A to Z of Women in World History Copyright © 2002 Erika Kuhlman All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact: Facts On File, Inc. An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 ISBN-10: 0-8160-4334-5 ISBN-13: 978-0-8160-4334-7 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kuhlman, Erika A., 1961– A to Z of women in world history / Erika Kuhlman. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8160-4334-5 1. Women—Biography—Dictionaries. I. Title. CT3202.K84 2002 920.72—dc21


Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755. You can find Facts On File on the World Wide Web at Cover design by Cathy Rincon Printed in the United States of America VB Hermitage 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 This book is printed on acid-free paper.


Acknowledgments v Introduction vii Alphabetical List of Entries

8 9 10 11 12 13 14


1 Adventurers and Athletes 1 2 Amazons, Heroines, and Military Leaders 29 3 Business Leaders and Lawyers 57 4 Fashion Designers and Trendsetters 87 5 Journalists, Diarists, and Historians 115 6 Performers 145 7 Political Activists 171

Religious Leaders 203 Rulers 235 Scholars and Educators 265 Science and Health Practitioners 295 Visual Artists 327 Women’s Rights Activists 351 Writers 385

Bibliography 417 Entries by Country of Birth 419 Entries by Year of Birth 423 Index 426




would like to thank my husband, Kevin Marsh, whose devotion made this book possible. I would also like to thank Elizabeth FrostKnappman at New England Publishing Associates, my editor at Facts On File, Claudia Schaab, and my friend and colleague Anar Imin for her research assistance.



 Many entries include cross-references to help readers understand such cultural borrowing within and across chapters. There is also an alphabetical list of entries in the book’s front matter for easy reference. As men have traditionally dominated each of the categories of human achievement, nearly all these women faced formidable obstacles—in the form of gender, religious, class, and/or racial discrimination—in the paths of their pursuits. As world historian Peter N. Stears noted in Gender and World History, gender inequality tended to increase across cultures as economic, political, and social institutions became more complex. Men, he wrote, attempted to reduce women’s roles in society to a dependent domesticity. The women whose lives have been written about in this book amply illustrate that those rigid gender roles were much more permeable than they—or we—had been led to believe. Women warriors are among those who crossed the boundary of proper womanhood with the most vehemence. Born to German parents in Argentina, Tamara Bunke’s multicultural heritage, combined with her devotion to socialism, led to her involvement in Che Guevara’s failed revolution in Bolivia in the 1960s. Working first as a German/Spanish interpreter and then as an undercover agent, Bunke ultimately hoisted an M-1 rifle to her shoulder to force her dreamed-of revolution. She and her comrades were betrayed by the Bolivian peasants they hoped to help and then ambushed and butchered by Bolivian


his book is about extraordinary women throughout human history whose lives were shaped less by having been born women, as Simone de Beauvoir put it in her revolutionary book The Second Sex, than by having been made into women by the diverse cultures in which they lived. As women and men from different places and cultures migrated and interacted with each other, they created the key forces driving human history: patriarchy, religious domination, capitalism, industrialization, imperialism, nationalism, socialism, democracy, feminism, and globalization, each of which affected the culturally learned gender roles and stereotypes predominant in most of the world’s societies. Each of the women featured in A to Z of Women in World History is considered within the particular cultural and historical milieu of which she was a part. The intertwining of three contemporary subfields of history—world history, women’s history, and gender history—forms the intellectual web underlying the research and writing of this book. Taking cultural interaction as the key force in shaping world history, each chapter of A to Z of Women in World History represents a category of human achievement—from business to art to science—in which each individual woman made her mark and influenced other women from diverse cultures and different historical periods pursuing the same goals. Nineteenth-century Chinese revolutionary Qiu Jin, for example, modeled her life on the 15th-century French Christian martyr Joan of Arc.



soldiers in 1967. Bunke’s story not only illustrates that women heeded the call to revolution as ardently as their male counterparts but also the futility of one society forcing social change upon another. Another woman patriot, U.S. First Lady Dolley Madison, found subtler, more traditionally feminine ways to affect the politics of war and peace. A Washington, D.C., socialite, Madison hosted White House parties where U.S. congressmen, presidents, and bureaucrats could informally but persuasively chat about affairs of the day and thereby swing the political pendulum. When Mrs. Madison sidled over to the hawkish U.S. congressman Henry Clay and offered him a pinch of her snuff during one of her famous soirees in the spring of 1812, Washington’s political powerhouses knew that Madison’s husband, President James Madison, was to wage war against Britain. While Washington, D.C., burned during the War of 1812, war hero Madison defended her beloved White House from encroaching British troops by packing up precious artifacts and sending them to the Bank of Maryland, thereby saving the national home from utter destruction. Other women warriors were forced to disguise their gender in order to join the ranks of the official military. In a variety of human endeavors, women have had to play at being a man if they wanted recognition of their talents. Sophie Germain, a French mathematician, could not enroll at École Polytechnique in Paris because she was a woman. So she put a masculine name at the top of a math problem she completed and asked a male friend to hand in the assignment for her, thereby forcing the professor to examine her mathematical proofs. Germain passed the professor’s scrutiny; she went on to help found the study of mathematical physics. Writer Harriet Jacobs broke political, social, and literary boundaries through her autobiography,


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, in which she revealed the double-edged sword of being a female slave in the pre–Civil War United States. Not only was she condemned to a life of servitude by virtue of her birth to an enslaved mother, but because she was female, she suffered a constant onslaught of sexual hounding by her licentious master. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the foremost slave narrative written by a woman, overturned the so-called sentimental novels popular in Jacobs’s day by equating women’s happiness not with marriage but with independence. Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi offered history an eyeful of feminine independence when she painted Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting. Hindered in her early career by an art teacher who raped her, Gentileschi later gained a reputation as a respectable artist of biblical allegory. Male Renaissance painters frequently painted themselves being guided by an ethereal, feminine Allegory of Painting hovering over their canvasses. But because she was a woman, Gentileschi could paint herself as the embodiment of the Allegory of Painting, guiding her own craft. Although in her own time Gentileschi did not receive the kudos she deserved, today many art historians consider her the artistic genius of the 17th century. A to Z of Women in World History is an attempt to reveal not only the distinction of the women it covers but also the ingenious ways in which women skirted the numerous barriers society placed in their paths. Each entry presents the essential facts of each woman’s life within her unique historical context. Taken collectively, A to Z of Women in World History paints a broad image of women (and womanhood) as movers and shapers of world history, without whom the historical glass would be much more than half empty.


 Adivar, Halide 172 Agnodike 296 Aidoo, Ama Ata 386 Aishah 204 Allende, Isabel 387 André, Valérie 297 Angelou, Maya 389 Anthony, Susan B. 352 Apostoloy, Electra 173 Aquino, Corazon 236 Arendt, Hannah 266 Argentinita, La 146 Armand, Inessa 354 Artemisia I 30 Ashton-Warner, Sylvia 267 Atwood, Margaret 390 Aung San Suu Kyi 175 Aylward, Gladys 205 Bâ, Mariama 391 Bach, Anna Magdalena 147 Bai, Lakshmi 31 Baker, Josephine 148 Bandaranaike, Sirimavo 237 Barrios de Chungara, Domitila 356 Bassi, Laura 298 Beale, Dorothea 268 Beaufort, Margaret 238 Beauvoir, Simone de 270 Beech, Olive 58

Behn, Aphra 393 Benetton, Giuliana 59 Bernhardt, Sarah 150 Bernstein, Aline 328 Bhutto, Benazir 240 Bishop, Hazel 60 Blackwell, Elizabeth 300 Blankers-Koen, Fanny 2 Bloomer, Amelia 88 Blunt, Anne 3 Bly, Nellie 116 Bocanegra, Gertrudis 32 Bol Poel, Martha 357 Bonney, Anne 34 Borgia, Lucrezia 241 Bose, Abala 271 Bouboulina, Laskarina 35 Boudicca 36 Bouhired, Djamila 176 Boulanger, Nadia 151 Boupacha, Djamila 37 Bourgeois, Louyse 301 Bourke-White, Margaret 117 Bradwell, Myra 61 Bremer, Fredrika 359 Brigid, St. 206 Buck, Pearl S. 394 Bunke, Tamara 39 Butcher, Susan 4 Carreño, Teresa 152


Carson, Rachel 303 Cassatt, Mary 329 Catherine II 243 Chanel, Coco 89 Child, Julia 91 Cho Wha Soon 207 Christine de Pizan 272 Cleopatra VII 245 Clicquot, Veuve 63 Cole, Johnnetta 274 Comnena, Anna 119 Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la 360 Cunitz, Maria 304 Curie, Marie 305 Darling, Grace 41 David-Neel, Alexandra 5 Davies, Arabella Jenkinson 120 Deborah 42 Dickinson, Emily 396 Ding Ling 361 Eddy, Mary Baker 209 Egeria 121 Eliot, George 398 Elizabeth I 247 Emecheta, Buchi 400 Endo Hatsuko 92 Eng, Melinda 94 Evert, Chris 7 Fallaci, Oriana 122 Fatima 211


Figueroa, Ana 363 Fini, Leonor 330 Frank, Anne 124 Franklin, Aretha 154 Franklin, Rosalind 307 Freud, Anna 309 Frith, Mary 8 Gandhi, Indira 248 Gellhorn, Martha 125 Gentileschi, Artemisia 331 Gérin-Lajoie, Marie 65 Germain, Sophie 275 Goegg, Marie 366 Goldman, Emma 177 Goodall, Jane 310 Graham, Martha 155 Green, Hetty 66 Guggenheim, Peggy 95 Hadewijch of Antwerp 212 Hani Motoko 276 Hatshepsut 250 Hayashi Fumiko 401 He Xiangning 367 Head, Bessie 127 Henie, Sonja 9 Herrade of Landsberg 333 Hildegard von Bingen 213 Hiratsuka Raicho 369 Hsi Kai Ching 43 Hypatia 278 Ichikawa Fusae 364 Isabella I 252 Jabavu, Noni 129 Jacobs, Aletta 370 Jacobs, Harriet A. 130 Jahan, Nur 254 James, Naomi 11 Jemison, Mae 312 Jinnah, Fatima 371 Joan of Arc 44 Joan, Pope 215 Kadeer, Rebiya 68 Kahlo, Frida 334 Kairi, Evanthia 279 Kanawa, Kiri Te 156


Kartini, Adjeng 280 Kawakubo Rei 96 Kelly, Petra 179 Kempe, Margery 216 al-Khansa 402 Kingston, Maxine Hong 404 Kollwitz, Käthe 336 Kuan Tao-sheng 337 Kyo Machiko 97 Lange, Dorothea 338 Langer, Susanne 282 Lee, Ann 217 L’Epine, Margherita de 157 Lin, Maya 340 Lind, Jenny 159 Lockwood, Belva 69 Lukens, Rebecca 71 Luxemburg, Rosa 181 Maathai, Wangari Muta 313 Macaulay, Catharine Sawbridge 132 Madikizela-Mandela, Winnie 182 Madison, Dolley 99 Magona, Sindiwe 283 Mahaprajapati 219 Mallet, Elizabeth 133 Mamaea, Julia 255 Mankiller, Wilma 257 Marcos, Imelda 101 Maria the Jewess 315 Markham, Beryl 12 Mata Hari 13 McAlisky, Bernadette 184 McClintock, Barbara 316 Mead, Margaret 317 Meer, Fatima 185 Meir, Golda 258 Menchú, Rigoberta 186 Mirabai 221 Mistral, Gabriela 405 Montessori, Maria 285 Morata, Olympia 286 Morrell, Lady Ottoline 102 Moses, Grandma 342

Murasaki Shikibu 406 Naidu, Sarojini 188 Nation, Carry 189 Nevelson, Louise 343 Ngoyi, Lilian 191 Nguyen Thi Binh 193 Nhongo, Teurai Ropa 47 Nightingale, Florence 320 O’Connor, Sandra Day 72 Oduyoye, Mercy Amba 222 Okamoto Ayako 15 O’Keeffe, Georgia 345 Okuni 160 Okwei, Omu 75 Olympe de Gouges 373 Onassis, Jackie 104 Ovington, Mary White 194 Palatinate, Madame 408 Parks, Rosa 196 Pavlova, Anna 162 Pedersen, Helga 76 Perón, Evita 260 Pitcher, Molly 48 Plamnikova, Franciska 375 Pompadour, Madame de 106 Post, Emily 107 Potter, Beatrix 346 Primus, Pearl 163 Qiu Jin 51 Ramphele, Mamphela 321 Ransome-Kuti, Funmilayo 376 Ratia, Armi 109 Rau, Dhanvanthi Rama 288 Razia, Sultana 52 Reibey, Mary 77 Rodnina, Irina 16 Roosevelt, Eleanor 289 Rudolph, Wilma 18 Saadawi, Nawal el 377 Sacagawea 19 Sampson Gannet, Deborah 53 Sappho 409 Schumann, Clara Wieck 165 Seacole, Mary 323 Seton, Elizabeth 224


Sha’rawi, Huda 379 Shaw, Flora 135 Slessor, Mary 225 Sontag, Susan 136 Sorabji, Cornelia 79 Staël, Madame de 138 Stanhope, Hester 21 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady 352 Stark, Freya 22 Stein, Edith 227 Tabei Junko 24 Teresa of Avila 229 Teresa, Mother 231

Tereshkova, Valentina 25 Terry, Ellen 166 Tescon, Trinidad 54 Thatcher, Margaret 261 Trivulzio, Cristina 139 Trubnikova, Mariya 380 Truth, Sojourner 198 Tuchman, Barbara 141 Tussaud, Madame 348 Undset, Sigrid 410 Walker, Madame C. J. 80 Wertmuller, Lina 349 West, Mae 168

Wheatley, Phillis 412 Willard, Frances 291 Winfrey, Oprah 82 Wolfe, Elsie de 110 Wollstonecraft, Mary 382 Woodhull, Victoria 83 Xiang Jingyu 200 Xide Xie 324 Yourcenar, Marguerite 414 Zaharias, Babe Didrikson 27 Zhang Ruifang 111 Zheng Xiaoying 169



Adventurers and Athletes



BLANKERS-KOEN, FANNY (Francina Elsje Koen, Francina Blankers-Koen) (1918– ) Dutch track and field athlete

Anger can be a forceful motivating factor, as runner Fanny Blankers-Koen could tell you. When she told friends and acquaintances that she was training for the 1948 Olympics in London, they told her that at the age of 30, she was too old. Even a Dutch newspaper reporter opined that her age would be too great a handicap to overcome. Others, less tactful, blurted out that she should be at home taking care of her young children. The comments that her ambitions evoked became so aggravating that Blankers-Koen trained all the harder. And she won, becoming the first and only woman to win four gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics (Wilma RUDOLPH was the first AfricanAmerican woman to win three Olympic gold medals in 1960). Blankers-Koen came in first in the 100meter race, the 200-meter race, and the 80-meter hurdles. Finally, she anchored (ran the final leg) of the 100-meter relay race and brought home the gold for her team and for Holland. (She might have won six gold medals—she held world’s records in long jump and high jump—but in 1948 athletes could only compete in four events.) You can bet that her Dutch compatriots were glad that Mrs. BlankersKoen chose not to take their advice. Blankers-Koen was born Francina Elsje Koen in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 26, 1918. Her family participated in several kinds of sports: swimming, skating, and tennis. When she turned six, Francina joined the local sports club, where she improved her innate swimming and running abilities. Track coaches began working with her at the age of 17. Disappointment followed the first competitive race that she ran in 1935 in Groningen, Netherlands: she did not place. Not ready to give up, however, she defeated the Dutch national champion in the 800meter race the following month. Jan Blankers, track coach for the Dutch team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, watched Francina Koen carefully and saw a potential jumper and sprinter. He invited her to be on the Dutch team in Berlin, where, at age 18, she finished in a tie for


sixth place in the high jump and fifth as a member of the Dutch women’s 100-meter relay race team. Jan Blankers and Fanny Koen married in 1940. World War II (1939–45) interrupted BlankersKoen’s Olympic dreams; the games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944. The feisty competitor continued to train, however, even during Nazi occupation of Holland (1940–45), taking time off only to give birth to her two children. In 1946, when European track and field competition resumed in Oslo, Blankers-Koen still competed even though, having given birth to her daughter seven months previously, she was not in mint condition. Nonetheless, she won the 80-meter hurdles, anchored the gold medal-winning 100-meter relay team, and took fourth place in high jump. In 1948, the Olympic Games resumed in London. Blankers-Koen knew that age 30 was considered too old to compete effectively. And, in truth, she knew that if she made the Olympic team, she would be away from her young children (though only for a short time), and that she would miss them. But with the help of her husband, who coaxed her out of her tearful misgivings at leaving her children behind, she blazed a trail to victory. Her first triumph came on August 2, when her powerful body (Blankers-Koen stood five feet ten inches and weighed 145 pounds) propelled her down a muddy track to win the 100-meter race in 11.9 seconds. The following day, she left her competitors behind to win the 80-meter hurdles in a world recordbreaking 11.2 seconds. Next, she placed first in the 200-meter race, establishing a new Olympic record of 24.3 seconds. Chosen again to be the anchor in the women’s relay race team, she charged past the competition to grab the gold for Holland. Her Dutch fans welcomed her home in style, filling her house with flowers and cakes. A group of people presented her with a bicycle so she would not have to run so much! Later that year, the Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year. Nicknamed the Flying Dutch Housewife, Blankers-Koen continued to compete after her triumphs in London, winning several European competitions. She retired from competitive running in 1955, serving as manager of Holland’s national team at the 1968 Mexico City


Olympics. In 1980, Blankers-Koen was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Further Reading 100 Years of Olympic Glory. Produced by Cappy Productions, Inc. 180 minutes. Atlanta: Turner Home Entertainment, 1996. Two videocassettes. Will-Weber, Mark. “Victory Lap,” Runners’ World (November 1998): 98–99. Woolum, Janet. Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1998.


BLUNT, ANNE (Lady Anne Isabella Noel Blunt) (1837–1917) British traveler and writer

Traveler, adventurer, and writer Anne Blunt, described by her family as having “lots of brains,” relied heavily upon her wits during her odyssey to faraway and often dangerous places. On one occasion, while she and her husband Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840–1922) were exploring the central Arabian desert, they were resting some distance away from their caravan. An unfriendly horseman rode up; Wilfrid scrambled onto his horse, but Anne, hampered by a wrenched ankle, could not scamper so easily on the soft sand. The horseman knocked her over with his spear and, grabbing Anne’s unloaded gun, thrashed Wilfrid over the head. “I am under your protection!” cried Anne, quickly remembering the accepted form of surrender in the Bedouin desert. Surprised that his captors were European, and even more shocked at the sight of a woman, the horseman let down his guard; soon, the three returned to the caravan, and all was peaceful again under the hushed desert sky. The Blunts traveled light. They forsook the tables and chairs, the white linens and silverware, and rubber bathtubs common among other 19thcentury British travelers. They were equally unhampered by the prejudice against desert dwellers that kept their compatriots from living among the Bedouins. Like other Europeans, the Blunts traveled for the sake of experience, to be sure, but they also

traveled for the sake of knowledge that they expected to gain by sharing a meager desert existence with the Bedouins. Lady Anne was born on September 27, 1837, to the first earl of Lovelace and the Honorable Ada Augusta Byron (the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron). She grew up surrounded by the wealth and comfort she would one day shirk. Her marriage to Wilfrid Blunt produced one son, who died four days after birth, and one daughter. In 1872, Wilfrid inherited his brother’s estate in Crabbet Park, Sussex. A few years later, Blunt resigned his diplomatic post, and the couple began preparing for their journey by practicing their Arabic and studying maps of the Middle East. They were alarmed, Anne Blunt recalled, that the Royal Geographic Society’s most recent map was dated 1836. Thus, with little information but a lot of courage, they departed for the cradle of civilization. Over land and sea, they arrived in Alexandretta, Turkey, and from there, they traveled to Aleppo, Syria. In Aleppo, they were held up by torrents of rain. They used their time wisely, however, by engaging the British consul, Lord Skene, who had lived in the Middle East for decades. Skene instructed the couple about Bedouin life and culture. The Shammar Bedouins, he explained, controlled the left bank of the Euphrates River, while the Anezeh nomads owned the right bank. These two tribes fought each other for supremacy. Skene hinted that he was on good terms with the Anezeh and could send a letter of introduction to their sheik, or leader. The Blunts eagerly sought such a letter, since they had planned on joining the Anezeh for their migration to Nejd, or the central Arabian desert. The Blunts’ journey into the unknown began in January 1878. Their small caravan consisted of about 15 people, including servants and guides. They loaded camels with a sandwich made of an oilskin tarp, a carpet, an eiderdown quilt, another carpet, and an oilskin tarp on top; the couple would make their bed in between these layers. They brought plenty of food with them, but, according to Anne Blunt, they never refused any food they were given by the Bedouins, including roasted grasshopper and



wild hyena meat. All their belongings, they realized, would have to be surrendered in case of a ghazu, or raiding party: it was best not to become too attached. “We are starting,” admitted Blunt, “rather like babes in the wood, on an adventure whose importance we were unable to rate.” Once they came upon the Bedouin camps, they knew what to do; Skene had instructed them to enter the largest tent, throw open the flap, and announce loudly, “Salaam aleykoum.” To which the inhabitants would respond likewise. Camel saddles were brought in from without, and the Blunts were invited to a Bedouin feast. The Blunts finally found Jedaan, head of the Anezeh. Wilfrid and Jedaan arranged for the Blunts to accompany the Anezeh the following April to the Nejd. The trip covered more than a thousand miles, beginning near Damascus, Syria. They crossed the Nefud River and then traversed across 200 miles of desert sand, to reach Jebel Shammar, one of the main settlements in Arabia. Anne Blunt’s account of this journey, A Pilgrimage to Nejd: The Cradle of the Arab Race, was published in 1881. The Blunts had planned on returning to England after their journey in the Arabian desert, but Wilfrid had been persuaded to make a report to the British government on the feasibility of a transnational railroad through the Indian subcontinent. His experiences in India led Wilfrid Blunt to publicly disapprove of his nation’s treatment and attitudes toward other races, and of British imperialism. After the Indian trip, the couple purchased a 40-acre homestead, called Sheik Odeyd, near Cairo, Egypt, where they spent their winters, gardening and collaborating on translations of Arabic literature. Anne Blunt died on December 15, 1917, in Egypt.

Further Reading Assad, Thomas J. Three Victorian Travelers: Burton, Blunt, and Doughty. London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1964. Blunt, Anne. A Pilgrimage to Nejd: The Cradle of the Arab Race. London: Cass, 1968. Tinling, Marion. Women into the Unknown: A Sourcebook on Women Explorers and Travelers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989.



BUTCHER, SUSAN (1954– ) American sled dog racer

From Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, Susan Butcher drives her sled through below-freezing temperatures and howling winds when she competes in the Iditarod sled dog race. She became a symbol of feminine strength and endurance when she broke the record for the fastest completion time in 1985. Just completing the Iditarod takes tremendous courage and know-how on the part of mushers (sled dog drivers). Gauging sudden weather changes can save not only the musher’s life but those of her sled dogs as well. Understanding wildlife behavior helps, too. Butcher once had to defend herself and her dogs from a pregnant moose by wielding an axe (eventually, the animal was felled by the bullet of one of Butcher’s competitors in the race, after the cow had injured some of Butcher’s dogs). Butcher has encountered and endured every imaginable threat in Alaska’s wilderness. Still, she underplays the importance of being the second woman to win an Iditarod race (Libby Riddles was the first woman Iditarod winner in 1986 when Butcher’s injured dogs— the result of the moose attack—forced her to drop out of the race). “My goal was never to be the first woman or the best woman,” she told a Women’s Sports and Fitness reporter in 1987. “It was to be the best sled-dog racer.” Butcher does believe, however, that women have greater potential for endurance than men do and stronger tolerance for pain and discomfort. Susan Butcher was born on December 26, 1954, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Agnes Butcher, a psychiatric social worker, and Charlie Butcher, chief executive officer of the family’s chemical products company. Susan Butcher grew up feeling alienated from urban life. “I hate the city,” she wrote when she was in the fourth grade, “because society is ruining the earth for animals.” Both Susan and her sister enjoyed spending summers in Maine helping their father restore old sailboats. Her pet dog had been her constant companion since the age of four. In addition to her love of animals, Butcher excelled in sports of all kinds while growing up. In 1972, she moved to Boulder, Colorado, where she took a job as a veterinary’s assistant. Her stay in Boulder only lasted


three years, however. On the one hand, Colorado introduced her to the sport of sled dog racing, in which she could combine her athletic prowess with her affection for dogs. On the other hand, her life in Boulder became disappointing when a car hit one of her dogs, and the other pet was stolen. In 1975, she moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where the sled dog trails were in closer proximity. She bought a cabin in the Wrangell Mountains, where she lived in seclusion for two years (other than summers, when she worked as a midwife on a musk ox farm). In 1977, she met Joe Redington, Sr., organizer of the Iditarod race. Redington helped her secure sponsors for entering the race. The following year, she was ready to race for money. The stakes are high: $50,000 in prize money goes to the winner. The Iditarod race begins during the first week of March. Mushers race for 1,157 miles, beginning in Anchorage and ending in Nome. Competitors must cross the frozen Bering Sea, iced-over rivers, and two mountain ranges. Temperatures can be as low as 50 degrees below zero, and winds as high as 140 miles per hour. Racers must drive at least seven dogs, but not more than 20. Several checkpoints are established along the route where veterinarians check the health of the dogs (Butcher begins training her dogs while they are still puppies). In 1978, Butcher finished the race in 19th place, assuring her a portion of the prize money doled out to all racers who are among the top 20 finishers. In 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990, Butcher took first place, becoming the only woman to win four times. In 1990, she broke the record for the fastest time by completing the course in 11 days, one hour, 53 minutes, and 23 seconds. Susan Butcher helped popularize the sport of sled dog racing. She made giant strides toward exploding the myth of feminine weakness, while at the same time encouraging a nurturing, caring attitude toward the animals that have helped her win her prestigious titles. Today, Susan Butcher operates Trail Dog Kennels with her husband David Monson. She has been named Women’s Sports Foundation’s Professional Sportswoman of the year in 1987 and 1988. The Anchorage Times named her Sled-Dog Racer of the Decade in 1989. The International Academy of Sports named her Outstanding Female Athlete of the World in 1989.

Further Reading Dolan, Ellen M. Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail. New York: Walker and Co., 1993. Schultz, Jeff. Iditarod: The Great Race to Nome. Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1991. Woolum, Janet. Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1998.


DAVID-NEEL, ALEXANDRA (1868–1969) French/Tibetan explorer, musician, and Buddhist teacher

“Adventure,” wrote Alexandra David-Neel, “is my only reason for living.” “I am a savage,” she admitted to her husband in a letter, “I love only my tent, my horse, and the desert.” When David-Neel journeyed to the Far East in 1911, she became fascinated with Tibet, a nearly inaccessible country situated between China and India. She became the first western woman to enter the Tibetan city of Lhasa and to interview the Dalai Lama, or highest Tibetan Buddhist teacher. An accomplished opera singer, David-Neel traveled all over Africa and Asia, until her marriage provided her with the financial ability to concentrate on her real desire: becoming a Buddhist lama. Alexandra David was born in Paris on October 24, 1868. During her pregnancy, Alexandra’s mother, Alexandrine Borghmans, had hoped for a boy who would become a Catholic bishop. Her son turned out to be a daughter who would become known as “Our Lady of Tibet.” Alexandra David had been born into turbulent times in France. Twenty years prior to her birth, in 1848, France had been rocked by a revolt of the poorer classes, who established the Second Republic (1848–51). All Frenchmen were granted the vote. In 1852, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1808–73) established the Second Empire and declared himself Emperor Napoleon III. Her schoolmaster father, Louis David, harbored republican sentiments, or the desire for a representative form of government, instead of a monarchy, or government headed by a single, hereditary ruler. He began publishing a republican journal but was forced to stop when Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself emperor. Louis David was exiled to Belgium



where he met and married Alexandrine Borghmans. The young Belgian woman would inherit her father’s money upon his death, and David was penniless. Alexandra David described her parents’ marriage as unhappy from the start, and disagreements between the couple increased with the birth of their daughter. Louis David wanted his child to be born in France (she was); Alexandrine David wanted her daughter raised as a Catholic (she was not). Louis David had his daughter secretly baptized in the Protestant faith; Alexandra David chose her own religious path not long afterward. The twists and turns Alexandra David’s life took during her teens and 20s demonstrate her discomfort with a settled life. Louis and Alexandrine tried various means of caging their daughter, with little luck. At age 15, Alexandra David left for London, where she studied Buddhism and occultism, to her parents’ dismay. Two years later, she left for a brief sojourn in Italy. Upon her return to Paris, her mother put her to work in a shop selling fabric for women’s clothing, but she soon quit. She attended the Sorbonne, an elite institute of education, for a time but soon quit that, too. Her father encouraged her musical talents, and she attended the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, Belgium, refining her piano and vocal talents. From there, she took her first real job with the Hanoi Opera Company in Vietnam. Her choice was deliberate. “My daughter has white skin,” said Louis David, “but a yellow soul.” Alexandra David, along with many western European intellectuals and artists, became enamored with Asian and African culture in the late 19th century (see MATA HARI, Lady Hester STANHOPE, and Beryl MARKHAM). Alexandra David combined her new singing career with her intellectual interest in Asian culture, especially in Buddhism, and departed for points east. To her mother’s consternation, Alexandra David showed much interest in men, but little desire to marry. While on tour in Tunis (a French colony nestled between Algeria and Libya, in North Africa), she met a wealthy French railroad engineer, Philippe Neel, who was also her distant cousin. Later, she declared, “we married more for mischief than affection.” As with many women of her time, Alexandra David-Neel made compromises when she chose mar-


riage. She gave up her singing career to please her husband and conventional society (middle- and upper-class married women rarely had careers in the early 20th century). In return, she accepted the use of Neel’s money to finance a trip to India for one year. There is little doubt that Philippe Neel got the short end of the marriage bargain. Alexandra DavidNeel returned not in one year, but in 14 years, after touring Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Sikkim (a country in the Himalayan mountains now part of India), India, Nepal, Burma, French Indochina, Japan, Korea, China, and finally, the holy city of Lhasa. Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of the Indian sage Siddharta Gautama (563–483 B.C.E.), who received the title Buddha, “the enlightened one.” Believers devote their lives to living without many material goods, practicing intense meditation and withdrawal from human desires. The religion was established in Tibet in the eighth century. Unique to Tibetan Buddhism is the notion that the Dalai (chief ) Lama, or Grand Master, is reincarnated after death in the body of another human. The present Dalai Lama is the 14th; Alexandra David-Neel visited the 13th. First she became a disciple of a lama, living and studying in a Himalayan hermitage, or isolated community. In the early 20th century, the British, who had colonized India in the mid-19th century, tried to penetrate the mountainous nation of Tibet to further trade and influence. Tibet remained stubbornly resistant and wary of outside visitors. To enter the capital of Tibet, the forbidden city of Lhasa, hidden away high atop the Himalayas, was indeed a formidable task, especially so for a woman traveling alone. But Alexandra David-Neel would not be deterred. She had studied the Tibetan language for years, and she spoke it flawlessly. Accompanied by a Sikkim boy, Anphur Yongden, whom she later adopted, she disguised herself as a beggar and entered the remote mountain village in 1924, traveling from the Gobi Desert of Mongolia to the China/Tibet border. Her book My Journey to Lhasa (1927) recounts her adventure. Alexandra David-Neel returned to France in 1925 to write books. From 1937 to 1945, she lived in China and traveled in the Soviet Union. In 1946,


when Philippe Neel died, she returned to France to settle his estate. She celebrated her 100th birthday at her home in Digne, France, in 1968, where she died on September 8, 1969. She renewed her passport for the final time at age 100.

Further Reading David-Neel, Alexandra. Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Jalandhar City: New-Age Publishers and Distributors, 1985. Foster, Barbara, and Michael Foster. The Secret Life of Alexandra David-Neel: A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices. Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 1987; revised, 1998. Middleton, Ruth. Alexandra David-Neel: Portrait of an Adventurer. Boston and Shaftesbury: Shambala Press, 1989.


EVERT, CHRIS (Christine Marie Evert, Chris Evert Lloyd) (1954– ) American tennis player

Chris Evert won a total of six U.S. tennis opens, seven French opens, three Wimbledon titles, and two Australian opens during her career. Her professionalism attracted media attention, large audiences, and significant prize money to women’s tennis during the 1970s and 1980s. Evert served the game of tennis as much off the court as on the court. Her impressive poise during tough, mentally taxing matches contrasted sharply with the poor, spoiled-brat behavior of many of her fellow tennis stars (notably Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe). Evert (sometimes called “little miss icicle”) was elected president of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) a record nine times, including eight consecutive terms from 1983 to 1991. Her dedication to a sport that made her a success elevated her stature even more. “It wasn’t like I was going to play the tournaments and collect the prize money and not be involved in the decision-making or take an interest in helping make changes for the better,” she commented. “[By serving the WTA] you feel like you’re putting something back in the game.” Chris Evert was born on December 21, 1954, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the second of Colette and

James Evert’s five children. The Everts all played tennis; James Evert was the teaching professional at Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park Tennis Center. At the age of six, Chris Evert began spending two to three hours a day and eight additional hours on weekends practicing her strokes. She was not strong enough to hit the ball backhanded with just one arm, so she began perfecting her signature two-handed backhand (later, she would become one of the first top players to rely on a two-handed backhand; the stroke became her mightiest weapon during tournament play). Evert began competing at the age of 10; by her 15th birthday, sports reporters and fans began giving her their attention. In 1970, she defeated another top-ranked player in the Clay Court Tournament (Evert became a clay court specialist), and then went on to upset Margaret Court, who had just won the Grand Slam by winning Wimbledon, the U.S., French, and Australian Championships within the same calendar year. Eventually, Evert lost to Nancy Richey in the finals. At the time, Evert was still a 16year-old amateur. Evert turned professional after winning the Virginia Slims championship tournament (the first of 157 career tournament victories) and the U.S. ClayCourt Championship in 1971. In August 1971, she became the youngest woman ever to play for the U.S. Wightman Cup Team, an annual team competition between players from the United States and Great Britain. She won both her matches, defeating Winnie Shaw, 6–0, 6–4, and Virginia Wade, 6–1, 6–1. As Chris Evert’s popularity grew, the tennis world began making adjustments to spotlight her performances. In September 1971, she played her first match in the U.S. Open in Forest Hills, New York on the stadium’s center court. More than 9,000 spectators watched her victory over Germany’s Edda Buding. Evert faced the top American player, Billie Jean King, in the semifinals. More than 13,000 fans were courtside to watch King defeat Evert in straight sets, 6–3, 6–2. Upon graduation from Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 1972, Evert had reached the number one ranking and embarked on her domination of women’s tennis. From 1973 to 1979,



she reached the semifinals or better in 17 of 19 U.S. Open competitions. She won the All-England Championships at Wimbledon in 1974, 1976, and 1981. Evert’s comments about her composure on court have inspired others facing difficult challenges, whether in sports or other endeavors. When asked about her cool behavior on court after a disappointing call, she commented, “I don’t show a lot of emotion on the court because I don’t want to waste energy and I don’t want my opponents to see how I really feel.” How does she advise young women to view their successes and failures? “If you can react the same way to winning and losing,” she noted, “that’s a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life, and there’s going to be a life after tennis that’s a lot longer than your tennis life.” Chris Evert married British Davis Cup player John Lloyd in 1978; they divorced in 1987. The following year, Evert married Olympic skier Andy Mill. In January 1991, President George H. W. Bush appointed Evert to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She serves as a special adviser to the United States Tennis Association and is on the board of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Women’s Sports Foundation. In addition, she participates in the Virginia Slims Legends Tour to benefit the National AIDS Fund.

Further Reading Lloyd, Chris Evert, with Neil Amdur. Chrissie: My Own Story. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982. O’Shea, Mary Jo. Winning Tennis Star: Chris Evert. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education Society, 1977. Young Adult. Sabin, Francene. Set Point: The Story of Chris Evert. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1977.


FRITH, MARY (Moll Cutpurse) (c. 1584–1659) English outlaw

Mary Frith, or Moll Cutpurse, as she was known to London’s criminal elements, had her standards. She was not, she insisted, a mere pickpocket. No, she had risen far above that petty crime; she was a Fagin, or a trainer of pickpockets. Far from a mere crook, how-


ever, Frith, a literate woman during a time when few women—let alone criminals—could read and write, wrote her memoirs, which were published three years after her death. Furthermore, Frith’s adventures and exploits became grist for the English drama mill when two playwrights turned her life into a play. The daughter of a shoemaker, Mary Frith was well educated, but she refused to submit to the discipline of school. As a young girl, her parents set her up in an upper-class home as a domestic servant, but she loathed housework and looking after children. As a means of escaping both her employer and the consequences of her gender (for there was little alternative for women in her time), Frith began wearing men’s clothing and devoting herself to a life of crime. A wide variety of petty infringements attracted her: forging signatures, managing a house of prostitution, pickpocketing, and working as a receiver, or a person who receives stolen goods and then resells them. She also tried her hand at fortune-telling, but that, she lamented, was not very profitable. During her criminal escapades, Frith became known as Moll Cutpurse. The surname “Cutpurse” was meant literally; she was known for cutting the straps of purses and stealing them. The variety of crimes she committed, and her ability to escape the clutches of the law, made Frith famous. She numbered among her friends such famous offenders as highwaymen Richard Hannan and Captain Hind (highwaymen were men who stopped coaches on country roads and robbed passengers of their possessions). Only once did the police actually catch her. London’s bobbies, or policemen, nabbed her during a heist in which she attempted to rob General Thomas Fairfax (1612–71), a well-known English officer, on Hounslow Heath. In the escape attempt, Frith wounded Fairfax in the arm and shot two of his servants’ horses. Surprisingly, she was released from London’s Newgate prison when she was able to post bail, set at 2,000 pounds. Mary Frith is famous mostly as a folk hero, as is true for other English criminals such as Robin Hood. English stories, plays, and poems allude to her strange cross-dressing behavior and her choice of a life of crime—unusual for a woman in her day. The most thorough treatment of Frith in literature appeared in 1611, in a play written by English dramatists Thomas


Middleton (1570–1627) and Thomas Dekker (1572–1632), called The Roaring Girl. Most of the information that historians have about Mary Frith comes from her own publication called The Life and Death of Mrs Mary Frith, Commonly Called Mal [or Moll] Cutpurse, published three years after her death. That Mary Frith was able to write and have her memoirs published tells us three things: first, we know that Frith was literate and educated. Second, she was well known (publishing books in the 17th century was not a commonplace occurrence); third, criminal biographies sold well in the 17th century and were one way that English people entertained themselves. Readers who examine Frith’s memoirs realize quickly that the editor’s introduction to the book differs from what Frith writes about her own life. The introduction deals mostly with Frith’s childhood, paying particular attention to her habit of dressing like a man. For example, the editor comments, “A very tomrig [tomboy] or rumpscuttle she was, and delighted and sported only in boys’ play and pastime, not minding or companying with the girls . . . She would fight with boys, and courageously beat them, run, jump, leap or hop with any of them or any other play whatsoever; in this she delighted, this was all she cared for.” The editor goes on to suggest that astrology, or placement of the planets, best explains why Frith behaved the way she did. Furthermore, she did not marry or have children because her manner of dressing, in men’s clothing, did not attract a man (none “were tempted or allured”). Mary Frith had worn a man’s doublet, or a sort of suit coat, until she took to bed before her death on July 26, 1659. Frith’s own writing, which begins after the editor’s introduction, differs from the editor’s remarks. She spends very little time on her childhood, and instead she discusses how she became involved in the criminal world, and what she had to do to survive there. She does, however, explain her choice of wearing men’s apparel by noting that women’s clothing was “excessive” and “wasteful,” and “impoverished of their husbands, beyond what they are able to afford towards such lavish and prodigal gallantry.” In other words, Frith thought that the women’s extravagant fashions of the day were a waste of their husbands’ money.

Frith concludes her memoir by denying that she “had ever actually or instrumentally cut any man’s purse, though I often restored it.” She did live to regret her involvement in prostitution for the “lewdness and bastardies that ensued.” Here is how she ends her memoir: “Let me be lain in my grave on my belly, with my breech [backside] upwards . . . because I am unworthy to look upwards. As I have, in my life, been preposterous, so I may be in my death. I expect not nor will I purchase a funeral commendation, but if [the preacher] be squeamish and will not preach, let the sexton mumble two or three dusty, clayey words and put me in, and there’s an end. FINIS.”

Further Reading Frith, Valerie. Women & History: Voices of Early Modern England. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1995. Meadows, Denis. Elizabethan Quintet. New York: Macmillan, 1956. Middleton, Thomas, and Thomas Dekker. The Roaring Girl: Or, Moll Cutpurse. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.


HENIE, SONJA (1912–1969) Norwegian skater

Imagine a spinning top slowly losing momentum until it drops to one side, wagging side to side, then dropping still. Then, imagine the same top spinning and gliding on a sheet of ice, cutting figures and leaping into the air. Sonja Henie took the basic athletic turns and jumps of figure skating and applied the graceful movements of a ballet dancer. The result of her efforts: three Olympic gold medals. Family fortune and innate talents conspired together to create this Norwegian-born world champion skater. Henie was born on April 8, 1912, in Oslo, Norway. Her father, Hans Wilhelm Henie, had been a world champion cyclist, in addition to his talents in a variety of other sports. He actively encouraged the development and enjoyment of sports in his children. Sonja’s mother, Selma Lochman-Nielsen Henie, supervised her daughter’s skating career as well.



What many people living in warmer climates think of as “winter sports” are really simply matters of life for Scandinavians living in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Schools and churches, train stations and businesses, particularly in less populated areas, all include racks upon which people hang their skis while they are inside. Motion on ice and snow for Scandinavians is akin to moving in water for people living in warmwater climates. So when Sonja Henie put a pair of skates on her feet, she thought of them as providing another fun way to move around on winter days. Figure skates, however, meant refining her movements for the purpose of tracing certain figures on the ice. She practiced for hours, receiving informal instructions from a member of a skating club, and then entered and won a competition at age nine. The Henie family began taking their daughter’s skating seriously. Two years of rigorous training, exercise, and dancing (including ballet lessons in London) earned Sonja, and her family, the national championship of Norway. Three years later she won second place in the world figure-skating championships. The following year, 1927, the world competition was held in Oslo, Norway, where Henie won the first of 10 consecutive world figure skating championships. Her success changed the nature of the sport. In the 1920s, women all over the world began changing their appearances quite drastically. Skirt lengths rose to the knee, elaborate hairstyles were unpinned, and hair was clipped to chin length. Sonja Henie introduced this new fashion to the world of figure skating by wearing a white velvet short dress, a marked change from the traditional long, black skating skirt. Second, Henie infused figure skating with ballet and other dance moves. She studied a contemporary dancer, Anna PAVLOVA, and incorporated many of the moves she watched. She made a deliberate attempt to design and skate to a choreographed program of ballet solos. Rather than merely showing proficiency at the accepted and technically difficult figure skating turns and jumps, Henie sought grace on the ice. After the world championship, Henie embarked on a decade of shows, exhibitions, parties, and more


competitions. Certainly skating took up most of Sonja’s time, but she was only 16 years old at the time, and she found time to explore other sports, as well. A natural athlete, Sonja Henie placed second in tennis tournaments and competed in a brand-new, modern sport: auto races. After winning the world champion figure skating competition 10 times, and two more Olympic gold medals in 1932 and again in 1936, Sonja Henie decided to end her amateur skating career in 1936, and she immediately started another. She had visited the United States in 1929 and returned for the Lake Placid Olympic Games in New York in 1932. This time, in 1936, the Henie family looked to southern California. The infant movie industry, begun in New York City in the early 1900s, had by this time moved to California. The Henies rented the Polar Palace in Hollywood for two ice shows, which were immensely successful. They had calculated correctly; offers for film appearances came pouring in to 24-year-old Sonja Henie. She signed a five-year movie contract with Twentieth-Century Fox. Her first film, based loosely on her own life, One in a Million (1936), was a success. In 1939, she was ranked third behind Clark Gable and Shirley Temple as a box office attraction. In 1937, Norwegian King Haakon made Sonja Henie a Knight of the First Class of the Order of St. Olav, the youngest person to receive the honor. Sonja Henie became an American citizen in 1941, however, after her marriage to sportsman Daniel Reid Topping. The marriage ended in divorce in 1946. Next, she married Winthrop Gardiner, Jr.; they divorced in 1956. In the same year, she married her compatriot, wealthy shipping magnate Niels Onstad. Together, the couple purchased paintings and opened the Sonja Henie–Niels Onstad Art Center in Oslo. Sonja Henie died of leukemia on October 12, 1969.

Further Reading One in a Million. Directed by Sidney Lanfield. 94 mins. Twentieth-Century Fox, 1936. Videocassette. Streit, Raymond. Queen of Ice, Queen of Shadows: The Unsuspected Life of Sonja Henie. New York: Scarborough House Publishers, 1990.



JAMES, NAOMI (1949– ) New Zealand skipper and racer

In 1978, Naomi James piloted her sloop, the Express Crusader, across the finish line of her home harbor of Dartmouth, England. She had returned home from an around-the-world sailing trip. She had spent months on the sea, sunburnt, windburnt, with no one else on board to keep her company. At her homecoming, her friends and family welcomed her back and congratulated her on her feat: she had just become the first female to sail solo around the world. Several months earlier, a Polish rival, Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz, had made a similar trip, threatening to achieve fame before James. But the competitor had sailed through the Panama Canal, linking South and Central America, instead of making the treacherous passage around Cape Horn, at the southern tip of South America. That was the route that James took, making her trip, in contrast to the Polish woman’s, strictly an ocean sail. Born in Gisborne, near Hawkes Bay, on the shores of New Zealand’s north island, Naomi Power James is the daughter of farmers Charles Robert Power and Joan Doherty Power. She attended a girls’ high school in Rotorua, New Zealand. She did not like school and dropped out at age 16 to work as a hairstylist from 1965 to 1971. James had always wanted to travel, and in 1970, she and her sister Juliet traveled by ship to London, England. The two sisters’ next stop was Vienna, Austria. In France, on a bicycle tour, she met Robert James, the skipper of a yacht called the British Steel. James asked Naomi to work on the boat as a deckhand and cook. Seasick at first, James soon took to the life of a sailor. When Naomi returned to New Zealand in 1975, she read a magazine story about a woman who planned to sail around the world. Intrigued by the idea, she began planning a similar trip. The following year, the adventurer returned to London and married Robert James. The union brought her into contact with other sailors, yacht owners, and much-needed sponsors for the challenge that lay ahead of her. James’s accomplishment is all the more gratifying, considering her relative lack of experience at the helm

of a sailboat. She had never skippered a yacht before setting off alone on her record-breaking trip. On Christmas 1976, she did have her first heavy-weather sailing experiences in the Bay of Biscay, off the coasts of Spain and France. She wrote in Alone Around the World that she had never witnessed such appalling weather. Her husband was with her, and he helped her identify when to wait, and when it was safe to set sail again. When they prepared to return to England, Rob James allowed Naomi to navigate the boat back home. “. . . I didn’t altogether trust my ability to find land again,” she wrote, but she did. A few evenings later, back in England, the Jameses and other sailors had dinner with yacht owner Chay Blyth. The diners’ spirits were high, James admits, buoyed by a “very memorable” cocktail called a “Yellow Bird.” Someone brought up the topic of sponsorship for James’s around-the-world voyage, and when the room fell silent, James’s heart sank. But then, one sailor exclaimed that he thought she could manage the trip with a boat and 10,000 English pounds. One man offered the money, and Blyth offered her the boat, and then next thing James knew, the gauntlet had been thrown. Within the next few months, she gained the confidence and sponsorship of the newspaper that would become her publicist, the London paper Daily Express. With only her kitten Boris as company, James began her journey on her 53-foot yacht, the Express Crusader, on September 9, 1977, from Portsmouth, England. She sailed southward toward South Africa, along the Ivory Coast. On October 16, she crossed the equator, the imaginary line dividing the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the earth. Her first difficulty on the trip occurred when her radio broke down, cutting off all communication. A few days later, Boris fell overboard and drowned. James continued her journey, rounding the tip of South Africa, sailing toward her homeland of New Zealand, and then toward South America. Her boat tipped over on February 27, due to heavy waves. She pumped the water out and turned the boat upright again. Then, she rounded Cape Horn on March 20, with only three months left in her journey. She sailed north along the east coast of South America and North



America, and then back to Portsmouth on June 8, 1978. Later, James reported that her only disappointment had been that she had to make two stops: one at the Falkland Islands, located off the country of Argentina in South America, and the other at Cape Town, South Africa. James made both stops for repairs to her boat. Her journey had lasted 272 days, and covered about 30,000 miles (48,000 km). In 1983, James lost her husband in a boating accident. Ten days later, she gave birth to their daughter. “Five years ago, when my husband was killed in a sailing accident,” she wrote in 1989, “I turned my back on the sea . . . but a lifetime (even one of nine months’ duration) spent sailing around the world, with one’s fate at the mercy of the ocean, cannot be dismissed so easily.” James agreed to embark on another voyage of exploration in the South Seas. Her story, “The Polynesian Triangle,” became part of the book entitled Great Journeys: Twentieth Century Journeys Along the Great Historic Highways of the World (1990). James married Eric Haythorne in 1990 and has spent much of her time since then writing and lecturing. “Woman Alone,” a piece she wrote for the Daily Express in 1978, recounts her famous around-the-world trip, as does Alone Around the World, written in 1979. Her second book, Alone with the Sea, describes her participation in a 1980 single transatlantic race and the events surrounding the event.

Further Reading James, Naomi. Alone Around the World. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979. ———. At Sea On Land. London: Hutchinson/Stanley Paul, 1981. McLoone, Margo. Women Explorers of the Ocean: Ann Davison, Eugenie Clark, Sylvia Earle, Naomi James, Tania Aebi. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 2000. Young Adult.


MARKHAM, BERYL (Beryl Clutterbuck) (1902–1986) British aviator

Writer and horsewoman Beryl Markham, born in England, spent most of her life in Kenya. She became


the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. Beryl Markham established two successful careers in her remarkable life: one as a bush pilot, and the other as a trainer of racehorses. She became a celebrity in 1936 when she made a record-breaking solo flight across the Atlantic, from London to Nova Scotia—where she crash-landed. Her account of her life, West with the Night (1942), became a best-seller. She competed fearlessly with men, at a time when many women competed with other women for men. Born Beryl Clutterbuck in Leicestershire, England, on October 26, 1902, her father, Charles Clutterbuck, took her to live with him at his farm in Kenya when she was just four. Kenya came under British control in the late 19th century; many Englishmen established farms there in the next few decades. Beryl’s mother and brother stayed behind in Leicestershire, England. Young Beryl quickly adapted to her new surroundings, learning the tribal languages of Swahili, Nandi, and Masai. She learned to train and breed racehorses, a hobby that would one day develop into her livelihood. When her father’s farm fell into financial difficulties, he returned to England and left Beryl in Kenya to take charge of the farm and the horses. At age 18 she became the first female horse trainer in Africa, obtaining a trainer’s license from the government. Her horse won the prestigious Kenya St. Leger race in 1926. She learned to hunt during her childhood by befriending native Kenyans and accompanying them on hunts. “She could hurl a spear just as well as Kibii [her Nandi friend], with deadly accuracy,” writes her biographer, Errol Trzebinski. “She had learned to straighten her arm in a backward arabesque as if to hurl a javelin, sending out a thrust to impale.” After mastering hunting and horsewomanship, Markham set her sights on aviation. When her marriage to rugby player Mansfield Markham (with whom she had her only child) ended, she fell in love with hunter and aviator Denys Finch Hatton. At the time, Hatton lived with fellow African expatriate Karen Blixen, who wrote about her own affair with him in her book Out of Africa, penned under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen. Hatton taught Markham to fly before he died in a plane crash. Within weeks of


his funeral in 1931, she became the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot’s license. By 1931 she had become a professional “bush” pilot, carrying mail and passengers to locations all over North Africa; these flights could be tricky, as the more remote areas had no landing strips or airfields, and Markham had to scope out the best terrain in which to land. Worse, her single-engine, 120-horsepower airplane had no radio, no direction-finding equipment, and no speedometer. During one flight to London, her plane was forced down several times due to bad weather. She landed in the Sudan when her engine failed; local people helped her push the plane onto firmer ground so that she could try again. She successfully landed in Khartoum, where she discovered that the engine had a cracked piston ring. Taking off again, she was then forced to land outside Cairo, Egypt, during a severe dust storm. After she repaired her plane, she flew across the Mediterranean Sea, wearing an inner tube around her neck as a lifesaving device. She finally landed safely in London. After five years of flying experience, Markham competed for a major prize in aviation, the prize of being the first to fly solo across the Atlantic from London to New York. Her choice of an east–west flight was significant: during such a flight she would be facing prevailing winds, rather than having them at her back. It was these west–east winds that aided Charles Lindbergh in his successful solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Markham’s goal of a nonstop London–New York flight took on further significance as she planned to show that commercial air service between the two cities was feasible. She borrowed the single-engined Percival Gull airplane that was fitted with extra gas tanks so that it could travel 3,800 miles without the need to refuel. Even with this extra boost, however, Markham was still taking incredible chances. Her airplane had no radio; she would be totally isolated during her flight. She took off on September 4, 1936, at 8 P.M. She faced strong head winds and nasty weather during her flight. Ships spotted her airplane flying above them and reported her progress to those waiting on shore. Sometime after 4:30 P.M. on September 5, however, she disappeared.

A call was placed from a small town in Nova Scotia: Beryl Markham had survived her trip, but she had crash-landed in a peat bog. She reportedly got out of her plane and greeted two fishermen by saying, “I’m Mrs. Markham. I’ve just flown in from London.” She was escorted to New York City by the U.S. Coast Guard, where New Yorkers welcomed her with a ticker-tape parade. Markham spent much of the 1940s in the United States, moving to California and marrying writer Raoul Schumacher. Markham’s relationship with Schumacher has called the writing of her autobiography into question. Her biographers are divided on the matter. Errol Trzebinski believes that Schumacher ghostwrote the book West with the Night. Another writer, Scott O’Dell, claimed to have seen the couple working on the book together; Markham was talking to her husband, while Schumacher was typing. Other critics argue that many writers dictate copy that editors polish. In 1952, Markham returned to Kenya to pursue her former occupation of horse breeder and trainer. She died in Kenya at the age of 84.

Further Reading Gourley, Catherine. Beryl Markham: Never Turn Back. Berkeley, Calif.: Canari Press, 1997. Young Adult. Lovell, Mary. Straight On Till Morning. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Markham, Beryl. West with the Night. Topeka, Kans.: Econo-Clad Books, 1999. Young Adult. Trzebinski, Errol. The Lives of Beryl Markham. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.


MATA HARI (Margaretha Zelle MacLeod) (1876–1917) Dutch/French dancer and spy

Mata Hari was a dancer, prostitute, and spy, who popularized Asian culture throughout Europe with her exotic dance act. The fame and fortune she gained as a result ultimately became her downfall. Her death was as dramatic as her life. It was early morning in the Vincennes woods east of Paris on October 15, 1917. For three and a half years, war had enveloped all of Europe in an endless



Passport of Mata Hari issued by the Dutch consul in Frankfurt am Main on August 15, 1914.

bloodbath that killed and wounded nearly an entire generation of young men. Twelve such hardened young soldiers stood in the Vincennes woods that October morning, waiting for orders to fire upon another kind of victim of the carnage of war. Soon, a car pulled up, unloading its passengers: an elderly man, a nun, and a middle-aged woman. The nun escorted the woman to a clearing in the forest, and there Margaretha Zelle MacLeod waited for the shots that would extinguish her life. A few minutes later, MacLeod, a convicted spy better known as Mata Hari, crumpled to the ground amid a volley of shots. MacLeod, born Margaretha Zelle on August 7, 1876, grew up in Holland. Her father, a oncesuccessful hatmaker in Leewarden, Holland, lost his wife to an illness, and his business to creditors, when his eldest daughter was just 15. Unwilling to raise his independent-minded, headed-for-trouble teenage daughter Margaretha by himself, he placed her in the home of her uncle. Training to become a schoolteacher, Zelle began having an affair with the head schoolmaster. To escape the wrath of her family, she answered a prank advertisement calling for a wife for a Dutch army captain. Rudolph MacLeod was a captain in the Dutch Colonial Army, stationed on the island of Java (Java is part of the East Indies, a group of islands that extends between the Asian mainland to the north and west, and Australia to the south.


The East Indies includes Borneo, Sumatra, and Java). MacLeod’s friends had placed the ad as a joke on the 39-year-old MacLeod; he had not expected the prank to work. He and Zelle courted for four months before they married in 1895. The couple then left for the East Indies. By the time the MacLeods’ son was two and their daughter newborn, the marriage had begun to sour. The life of a colonial wife did not suit the lively, socialite Margaretha, and Rudolph MacLeod blamed his wife for her lack of interest in housekeeping. The final nail in the coffin of their marriage was the death of their son. The child did not survive a fever resulting from, his parents assumed, a tropical disease. The doctor discovered, however, that the boy had been poisoned. The Dutch, for all their reputation as a tolerant people, had dealt ruthlessly with their colonial charges in Sumatra. They had cleared millions of acres of rain forest for tobacco plantations, thereby ruining the livelihood for the indigenous people. Furthermore, many Sumatrans were willing to wage war against their colonizers. The Dutch responded by trying to subdue them. The person who poisoned the MacLeods’ son may have acted for personal reasons—he was allegedly the lover of the boy’s nurse—or he may have exacted revenge for colonial misrule. In either case, Rudolph MacLeod blamed his wife for his son’s death. The two returned to Holland and divorced. Leaving her daughter with her former husband, Margaretha Zelle MacLeod summoned up her courage; plenty would be needed, for single women had few means of making a living. MacLeod assessed her life honestly. She loved entertainment and spotlights. She left for the European city that offered the most of both: Paris, France. While living in Java, MacLeod had attended numerous festivals and dances as the wife of an army officer. The dancing in particular had intrigued her, and she became convinced, after watching the entertainment that Parisiennes enjoyed, that she could make people pay to watch her dance. The timing was right. The American dancer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) had just become a popular figure in Europe, and Paris night owls were open


to new innovations in the art form. So MacLeod dressed herself in exotic costumes, labeling her act “sacred oriental art” to appeal to the more highbrow audiences. To appeal to the rest, she ignored the taboo on sinful undulations of the female body; her audiences went wild. She soon changed her name to Mata Hari, a Malaysian phrase meaning “eye of the sun.” She invented—and allowed careless journalists to invent—various stories about her background. This, too, would contribute to her conviction as a spy. Mata Hari quickly became a household name in the early 1900s and 1910s. She danced in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Belgium, carefully balancing decorum with daring. Her dance career, however, faded within the course of 10 years. She began to age, and her wealth had turned her trim body to become more than voluptuous. As the attention of Europeans turned to the tensions that would ultimately erupt in war, entertainment became secondary, and her patrons seemed more interested in patriotism than foreignness. Always willing to sell her body for money, Mata Hari became a mistress to a string of servicemen from various nations when World War I started in Europe in 1914. She lived in Paris during the war, although she traveled frequently to Holland and Germany as well. Soon, a German intelligence officer offered her money to keep him informed of any knowledge that her French lovers might unwittingly spill while enjoying her company. She became a double agent when she agreed to perform the same service for the French. Not realizing the dangers involved, she inadvertently sealed her own fate by admitting that she had been paid by a German intelligence officer, although she had never given any information to anyone. A jury found her guilty of treason. The punishment was death by firing squad.

Further Reading Howe, Russell Warren. Mata Hari, the True Story. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986. Keay, Julie. The Spy Who Never Was: The Lives and Loves of Mata Hari. London: Michael Joseph, 1987. Wagenaar, Sam. The Murder of Mata Hari. London: A. Barker, 1964.


OKAMOTO AYAKO (1951– ) Japanese golfer

Okamoto Ayako grew up mastering a sport other than golf. At the age of 20 she was one of Japan’s top women’s softball pitchers. Indeed, she was so unfamiliar with golf that when she and her softball teammates were in Hawaii for a championship, golfers had to chase them off the golf course near their hotel because they were sitting on the green. They did not know what it was. Okamoto has come a long way since then. At the age of 45, she won her 60th Japanese Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (JLPGA) tournament. Since coming to the United States in 1981, she has won 17 Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour victories. In 1987, she won LPGA Player of the Year, the first foreign woman so honored. Born in Hiroshima, Japan, on April 2, 1951, Okamoto’s career in the far more lucrative sport of golf began at the age of 22. She apprenticed by practicing and caddying at a private golf club in Osaka, Japan. Higuchi Chako, her mentor and role model, dominated Japanese women’s golf at the time, becoming the first Japanese player to win the U.S. LPGA championship in 1977. Okamoto quickly caught up with her mentor (Okamoto and Higuchi currently serve as vice chair and chair, respectively, of the JLPGA). By the age of 25, she turned professional in Japan and won 20 JLPGA events between 1975 and 1981. By 1981, Okamoto had reached stardom in Japan. She decided to come to the United States to compete with world champions, but also to escape the pressures of her celebrity status. In 1984 she won the British Open. While in the United States, Okamoto won 17 LPGA tournaments and topped the money list with $466,034 in 1987 (in professional golf, competitors are ranked according to their earnings). Okamoto had her career best scoring average in 1988 at 70.94, which represents the number of shots it took to complete an 18-hole golf course. Par at most golf courses is 72 (i.e., golfers are allowed an average of four shots from tee-off until the ball drops in the hole at each green; Okamoto’s score thus represents her ability to complete a course under par).



Ironically, her stature in Japan has increased since she moved to the United States. Fellow golfer Jane Geddes accompanied Okamoto on a trip back to Japan. She described Okamoto’s celebrity in Japan as being akin to basketball star Michael Jordan’s status in the United States. “One time,” explained Geddes, “we took a train, and by the time we left there were a hundred older women pressed up against the window, crying and screaming just to see her.” Back in the United States, the Japanese media follow the athlete wherever she goes, in part because Okamoto represents an anomaly in Japanese society. Single women over the age of 35 are considered old maids; Japanese journalists call Okamoto “grandmother” behind her back. Okamoto hit her stride in the world of golf just as Japan’s economic boom soared in the late 1980s. By 1993, Japan’s economy was the second largest in the world, despite its lack of natural resources. For professional golfers like Okamoto, flush economic times meant rich endorsement deals with everything from sports equipment companies to coffee creamer manufacturers. In addition, tournaments were paying $25,000 to $50,000 in appearance fees alone. Okamoto has never been shy about betting on herself. When she is playing with friends for fun, she suggests playing for money: $10 per hole. Okamoto describes her golf game as a quest for perfection. “With every single shot I felt I knew which way the ball would go,” she told British sportswriter Liz Kahn. “If there was one blade of grass between the ball and the club I knew how it would react . . . my moment of impact was so precise, it was a joy. It was what I had been searching for all my career.” Okamoto is just as precise off the greens. Although her English is very good, she insists on using a translator for interviews. “I am not happy if I don’t speak perfectly,” she says. By the mid-1990s, perfection came less easily for the champion as back problems waylaid her. Okamoto stopped playing in tournaments regularly, and she finally returned to Japan in 1995. Jane Geddes described Okamoto as “so Japanese. She never really adjusted to the States.” And, ironically, she missed her celebrity status back home. “She likes the part of her life where she gets waited on,” commented Geddes.


Further Reading Burnett, James. Tee Times: On the Road with the Ladies Professional Golf Tour. New York: Scribner, 1997. Golf Magazine’s Encyclopedia of Golf, ed. Robert Scharff. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Nickerson, Elinor B. Golf: A Women’s History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1987.


RODNINA, IRINA (Irina Konstantinovna Rodnina) (1949– ) U.S.S.R. couples figure skater

Irina Rodnina and her first partner, Alexei Ulanov (1947– ), ended the reign of another Soviet figure skating team, Ludmila Belousova Protopopov (1935– ) and Oleg Protopopov (1932– ). The Protopopovs exhibited a graceful, lyrical skating style that had won the hearts of figure skating judges all over the world. The Rodnina/Ulanov team brought a new energy and athleticism to the sport, ultimately usurping the throne of world champion figure skaters away from the Protopopovs. During her 11-year competitive career, Irina Rodnina won 10 World Championship titles: four with Alexei Ulanov and six with her second partner, Alexander Zaitsev. By the time she retired in 1980, Rodnina had won more medals than any other figure skater in history. It is not surprising that a Soviet team inherited the crown from another Russian duo, since the Soviets dominated the sport during the cold war era (1946–91). Drawing on their cultural heritage of ballet, and taking advantage of a state-supported system of athletic training and competition, a Soviet pair won every Olympic gold medal, and 28 out of 34 World Championships, in figure skating between 1964 and 1994. The cold war is a term used to describe the intense antagonism and rivalry between the United States and western Europe, on one side, and the U.S.S.R. and eastern Europe on the other. At times, such as during the Korean War (1950–53), the cold war “heated up,” and a military conflict occurred. At other times, the rivalry between the two parts of the world took the form of cultural fights. Athletic events, such as the Olympics and the European


World Figure Skating Championships, were dramatized by cold war tensions. Athletic contests, such as figure skating competitions, took on political dimensions as judges and spectators viewed skating styles as representing cultural differences between democracy and communism, rather than individual tastes and abilities. Judges on both sides of the Iron Curtain (a phrase British Prime Minister Winston Churchill coined to mean the division between the communists in the East and democracies in the West) were accused of nationalistic biases. The controversy went so far that in 1977 an International Skating Union (ISU) suspension prohibited all Soviet judges from participating in international competitions that year. Born in Moscow on September 12, 1949, Irina Rodnina began skating at the age of six. She was selected as a promising young athlete by the Soviet government and began training under Stanislav Zhuk. She graduated from the Central Institute for Physical Culture in Moscow, where she also taught. In her teens, she began skating with Alexei Ulanov, and the two developed a new, energetic style, bringing couples’ figure skating into the space age with power, speed, and stamina. In addition to physical power, the Rodnina/Ulanov team chose loud, boisterous music to accompany their skating routines. Typically, figure skaters of the time selected classical, romantic music to underpin their graceful skating moves. But audiences and judges were ready for a change. The Rodnina/Ulanov team won their first championship in 1969, continuing their dominance until 1972. Under Rodnina’s influence, figure skating developed into a more athletic sport, requiring more physical prowess and control. Judges rate a couple’s ability to perform lifts, throws, and jumps. Lifts are moves in which the male partner hoists the female above his head. Both skaters should achieve full extension of their arms and legs, and they should keep moving on the ice, not slowing down to perform the lift. The woman should be brought down at full speed, in control, and should land softly. In a twist lift, the man releases the woman to rotate in the air, and then catches her at the end of the move, requiring perfect

timing. In a throw, the male partner throws the female as she jumps, allowing her to increase momentum and achieve a higher jump. Often, couples will introduce moves in which both partners will jump separately, but side by side; at other times, their movements will mirror each other. The Rodnina/Ulanov team won high praise for their “death spiral,” in which Ulanov pivoted on his skates while holding Rodnina’s hand; meanwhile, she bent her body backward, fully extended, almost parallel to the ice. The pivot began at a high speed, then slowly lost momentum as it continued. At the end of the move, Rodnina gracefully came back to an upright position. Irina Rodnina lost her partner in 1972, when he announced his plans to marry a member of a rival skating team, Ludmila Smirnova. Rodnina began auditioning new partners and found a worthy match in Alexander Zaitsev. Initially, the pairing seemed doubtful since Zaitsev was a full foot taller than Rodnina. But the two persisted and together won two Olympic gold medals, in 1976 and 1980, ending the long-held notion that a couple had to be fairly equal in height to be a success. Rodnina and Zaitsev also introduced a new move to figure skating, a side-by-side double axel in which both skaters glide forward on one foot, jump, and land on the opposite foot, spinning. A double axel is two and one-half revolutions. Rodnina and Zaitsev married in 1975 and had one son in 1979. They later divorced. Rodnina married a businessman, and the couple moved to the United States in 1990. She coaches skaters at Lake Arrowhead, California. She was elected to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1989.

Further Reading Levinson, David, and Karen Christensen, eds. The Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present, Volume 2, Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1996. U.S. Figure Skating Association Staff. The Official Book of Figure Skating. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Woolum, Janet. Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1998.




RUDOLPH,WILMA (Wilma Glodean Rudolph) (1940–1994) American track champion

African-American athlete Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field competition. She won the 100meter and 200-meter individual races, and she was a member of the winning American 400-meter relay team. Rudolph set world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter races. An unlikely athlete—much less world-class champion—Rudolph suffered from polio in her youth, a disease that left her partially paralyzed. In addition to poor health, Rudolph had to challenge the hurdles thrown in front of her by the prejudices of a racist society. Wilma Rudolph’s triumphs took place during the height of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Born in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, on June 23, 1940, to Ed and Blanche Rudolph, Wilma was the fifth of eight children. Ed Rudolph was a sleeping-car porter on the railroad, and her mother was a domestic servant. Her household included an additional set of 11 children by her father’s previous marriage. When she contracted polio, a disease that causes the degeneration of limbs, in 1944, her family assumed that she would be spending the rest of her life wearing leg braces and special shoes. A specialist in Nashville recommended a therapy of massages on both her legs. Her entire family took turns massaging Wilma’s legs. Wilma detested having to wear her braces, and she began to try walking without them, despite her parents’ insistence that she follow doctor’s orders. Once a week, Blanche Rudolph would drive her daughter to Nashville for more physical therapy. In the segregated South, African Americans could not be treated at white hospitals; the Rudolphs’ only choice was Meharry Hospital, the black medical college of Fisk University in Nashville. At the end of five years of treatment, Wilma stunned her doctors by walking without the braces, although she still needed a shoe designed to support her leg. Finally, at the age of 11, she discarded the shoe as well. When she started high school, Rudolph wanted to follow her sister Yolanda and join the basketball team. The coach doubted her ability to play any kind of


sport because of her polio. She convinced him to let her join the team, promising to work out every morning for 10 minutes before the team began practice. Rudolph developed into a fine player. During her sophomore year, she scored 803 points in 25 games, a new state record for a girls’ team. Ed Temple, the coach at Tennessee State University, spotted her in one of her games. Rudolph’s school, Burt High School in Clarksville, lacked funding and did not have a girls’ track team. Before the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that mandated integration, schools in the South were segregated, and most black schools lacked an adequate tax base to afford all of the extracurricular activities that were available at white schools. Ed Temple invited Rudolph to attend a summer sports camp at Tennessee State University in 1956. Wilma Rudolph had never heard of the Olympics until 1956, the year that Rafer Johnson, an AfricanAmerican track star, won a silver medal in track and field. At the age of 16, she qualified for the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She came home with a bronze medal. In 1957, she began attending Tennessee State University with a major in elementary education. In 1959, she pulled a muscle during a crucial meet between the United States and the Soviet Union in Philadelphia. She recovered in time for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where Rafer Johnson became the first black man to carry the American flag at opening ceremonies. Wilma Rudolph’s performance at the 1960 Olympics remains among the most outstanding in the history of the modern games. Although she was not the first black woman to win a gold medal (that distinction goes to Alice Coachman-Davis, who won the high jump at the 1948 Olympics in London), Rudolph won all three gold medals in memorable fashion. In the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, she finished three yards in front of her nearest competitor, tying the world record in the 100-meter dash and establishing a new Olympic record in the 200-meter race. Then, she brought victory home for her 400-meter relay team. In some ways, however, Rudolph’s victories were bittersweet. She came home to a ticker tape parade


and was invited to the White House to meet President John F. Kennedy, becoming an instant sports celebrity. Despite all the attention, however, she noticed a distinct difference in the way that black athletes were treated. All of the endorsements that a white star of Rudolph’s stature would have received were not forthcoming. There were no companies interested in promoting their products by using the name and image of an African-American athlete. Rudolph retired from amateur athletics in 1963, finished her college degree, and became a teacher, coach, and director of the Wilma Rudolph Foundation. She married her high school sweetheart, Robert Eldridge, with whom she had four children. The couple later divorced. She wrote her autobiography, Wilma, in 1977, and it was made into a television movie. In 1991, she served as an ambassador to the European celebration of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. She was a member of the Olympic Hall of Fame and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. She died at her home in Brentwood, Tennessee, on November 12, 1994, of a malignant brain tumor.

Further Reading Biracree, Tom. Wilma Rudolph. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Coffey, Wayne. Wilma Rudolph (Olympic Gold). Blackbirch Marketing, 1997. Young Adult. Krull, Kathleen. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman. San Francisco: Harcourt Brace, 1996. Young Adult. Rudolph, Wilma. Wilma Rudolph on Track. New York: Wanderer Books, 1980.


SACAGAWEA (Sacajawea, Boinaiv) (c. 1786–c. 1812) Native American guide and translator

The life of Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian, has become one of the most enduring histories of the American West. Members of a Hidatsa tribe captured Sacagawea during a war raid when she was a child. The Hidatsas sold her into slavery, and eventually she became the wife of Toussaint Charbonneau, who later became a guide to the Lewis and Clark expedi-

Sacagawea, a member of the Lemhi band of the Shoshone Indians, was the interpreter for the 18th-century Lewis and Clark expedition. Courtesy State Historical Society of North Dakota.

tion (1804–1806). Sacagawea was the only woman to travel with the explorers as they charted the lands west of the Mississippi River for U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826). Sacagawea’s experiences became legendary because they encapsulated the elements of the Euroamerican mythology of the American West: the heroic exploring and conquering of a vast “wilderness,” and the idea of bringing civilization to uncivilized peoples. We have little information about the early life of Sacagawea as an individual. She was born into the Lemhi band of the Shoshone Indians, who lived along the Salmon River in present-day central Idaho. Her



father was the band’s chief, and Sacagawea’s Shoshone name was Boinaiv, which means “Grass Maiden.” The Hidatsa Indians, also called Minitari or Gros Ventre, lived near the Mandan Indians on the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. In 1800, Boinaiv’s band was camped at the Three Forks of the Missouri River in Montana, when they surprised some Hidatsa warriors. Conflict erupted, and the Hidatsas killed four men, four women, and a number of boys. Several children were captured and taken back to the Hidatsa village. Boinaiv was given the Hidatsa name Sacagawea, which means “Bird Woman.” French Canadian fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, who lived among the Hidatsas, won a gambling game and acquired Sacagawea and another girl as a prize. He eventually married both women. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) in 1803. The United States suddenly included 827,987 square miles of land acquired from France for about $15 million. The Louisiana Purchase stretched west from the Mississippi River (the westernmost border of the United States at the time) to the Rocky Mountains, and north from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. Jefferson had already been planning an expedition to chart a route through the lands west of the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, and to establish friendly relations with Native Americans. He hired U.S. Army Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, a former U.S. Army officer, to lead the “corps of discovery.” The party gathered in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1804 and headed west. Much of what we know about Sacagawea’s life from 1804 comes from the journals of Lewis and Clark. The corps reached the Mandan and Hidatsa villages near the mouth of the Knife River in North Dakota in October 1804. As winter weather approached, the expedition decided to remain there until the following spring. “A Mr. Chaubonie [Charbonneau] interpreter from the Goss [Gros] Ventre nation came to see us . . .” wrote William Clark on November 4, 1804. “This man wished to be hired as an interpreter.” Lewis and Clark accepted Charbonneau’s offer in part because his two wives were Shoshone and could act as interpreters


between the white corps and the native people they would encounter. The corps of discovery relied on Native Americans for supplies and for knowledge of the land they were “discovering” for the U.S. government. The process of translation was rather cumbersome, however. Sacagawea would listen to the Shoshone language, relay the message in Gros Ventre to Charbonneau, who would then speak French to another individual, who then reinterpreted the message in English to Lewis and Clark. In February 1805, Sacagawea gave birth to a boy, whom she named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Sacagawea carried the infant in a cradleboard as the corps renewed their journey west in April after winter had passed. Lewis recorded Sacagawea’s knowledge of edible plants, such as wild artichoke, in his journal. In May 1805, Lewis described a close call the party experienced while navigating canoes on the Yellowstone River. A sudden squall of wind nearly knocked one of the canoes over. “The Indian woman, to whom I ascribe equal fortitude and resolution with any person on board at the time of the accident, caught and preserved most of the light articles which were washed overboard.” In June, Sacagawea fell ill, and both Lewis and Clark tended to her, expressing disgust at Charbonneau’s negligence toward his sick wife. “If she dies it will be the fault of her husband,” wrote Lewis. Sacagawea recovered and soon became reunited with part of her Shoshone family. In July 1805, the party passed the spot on the Three Forks where Sacagawea had been captured. A week later, Sacagawea recognized her brother Cameahwait, who had become the LehmiShoshone chief. Securing horses and supplies from her people, and leaving her adopted nephew, Bazil, in the care of Cameahwait, Sacagawea continued on the expedition over the Rocky Mountains. In November 1805, the travelers came upon the Pacific Ocean. Clark commented again on the benefit of Sacagawea’s presence in the expedition: “The wife of Shabono [Charbonneau] our interpreter we find reconciles all the Indians as to our friendly intentions, a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.” In August 1806, the party again reached the Mandan villages of North Dakota where they had spent the winter of 1804–05. Sacagawea, Charbonneau,


and their son Jean Baptiste stayed behind as the corps of discovery returned to St. Louis. Sacagawea’s death remains shrouded in controversy. Evidence exists that suggests that she died a few years after the expedition, in 1812. Some historians, however, claim that Sacagawea left her husband and went to live among the Comanche Indians. Later, she returned to the Shoshone Indians, some of whom were by then living in the Wind River Agency in Wyoming. Some Shoshone Indian agents and missionaries report that she lived to be 100 and was buried at Fort Wakashie, Wyoming. Opponents of this theory argue that there was another woman calling herself Sacagawea who lived in the Wind River Agency. If Sacagawea did live to an old age, she would have seen the decline of tribal life among Native Americans, and the beginning of a reservation existence that reduced Native Americans to dependence on the U.S. government for a meager living. For Native Americans, the Lewis and Clark expedition did not bring “civilization” to the American West but rather marked the beginning of the end of their own cultures. Sacagawea has become one of the most celebrated women in American history. In May 1999, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled a new dollar coin memorializing the Shoshone guide.

A to Z of W omen A TO Z OF WOMEN IN W ORLD H ISTORY ERIKA KUHLMAN A to Z of Women in World History Copyright ©...

Author: Erika Kuhlman

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Think Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), think Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, G. Madhavan Nair, Rodham Narsimha and a host of geniuses. They build on an earlier generation of scientists who worked to push India’s space frontiers, men who came to define the contours of the country’s scientific rediscovery — C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha. But times are changing.

Two years ago, as Indian scientists successfully put a satellite Mangalyaan into orbit around Mars, history was scripted. Away from the dour image of spectacled and formally suited nerds working on complex diagrams and theories, this snapshot of Indian scientists, who achieved the feat in a record 15 months, was warmly refreshing — women dressed in resplendent saris, chatting gaily as they went about their work.

Given that they have to work hard at home as well, faced as they are with societal discrimination, the Isro story remains a landmark not just for Indian science, but the women behind it.

Ritu Karidhal — from sky watcher to scientist.

Ritu Karidhal is the Lucknow-born deputy operations director of the Mars Orbiter Mission. As a little girl growing up in Lucknow, Ritu was an avid sky watcher who “used to wonder about the size of the moon, why it increases and decreases. I wanted to know what lay behind the dark spaces,” she says.

A student of science, she scoured newspapers for information about Nasa and Isro projects, collected news clippings and read every detail about anything related to space science. After getting her PG degree, “I applied for a job at Isro and that’s how I became a space scientist,” she says.

Eighteen years later, she has worked on several projects at Isro, including the prestigious Mars mission, which thrust her and her colleagues into the limelight. She told a news portal in 2015 that she had to conceptualise and ensure the execution of the craft’s autonomous brain so that it could function on its own and even overcome malfunctions.

In the final campaign period of 10 months leading to the launch, she would sit with her kids for their homework and then resume her work between midnight and 4 am. Some stamina and perseverance that.

Although women scientists were part of the mission right from the time of conception, Ritu says its success was due to the great team effort. “We used to sit with the engineers, irrespective of the time, we often worked the weekends,” she reminisces. A mother of two young children, she says it was not easy to maintain a work-life balance, but “I got the support I needed from my family, my husband and my siblings.

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