Category Archives: Female Revolutionaries
by Heather Harris Brady
Those of you who have explored the pages of my website know this topic is close to my heart as a member of a blended Hispanic family, and as part of my own past growing up in a small, non-diverse country town. There are so many unknowns when you don’t get to meet all walks of people on a daily basis. It is all a driving factor behind most of my work, including the manuscript I am querying right now. A Missfits Misstory stars two fashionistas (May and Valentina). May is a young Victorian woman rebelling against her Puritan town and Valentina is a contemporary 13 year-old Hispanic fashionista who moves into her house and into the middle of a century-old mystery May left behind.
I’m copying the essence of the #weneeddiversebooks tumblr below, to help spread the word for their effort:
Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.
Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:
On May 1st at 1pm (EST), there will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. We want people to tweet, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blog, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.
For the visual part of the campaign:
Take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.
The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs.
However you want to do it, we want to share it! There will be a Tumblr at http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ that will host all of the photos and messages for the campaign. Please submit your visual component by May 1st to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.
Starting at 1:00PM (EST) the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.
The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a nonstop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.
The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.
On May 2nd, the second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm (EST) using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.
On May 3rd, 2pm (EST), the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! More details to come!
We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.
Even though technically it’s not Women’s History Month anymore I’m going to keep these posts going through the year – because these amazing women deserve more!
Ms. Jones, a self-taught scientific illustrator, is having a bit of a posthumous renaissance. There is a new book about her life and an article in a recent issue of Country Living.
Born in Ohio to a somewhat-wealthy, intellectual household, Ms. Jones visited the 1876 Exposition to mend a broken heart after her parents would not allow her to wed her choice of suitor. At the Exposition she saw illustrations from Audubon’s bird studies and decided to illustrate the nests herself. Her father encouraged her in this project, although he cautioned her to limit herself to the birds of Ohio.
Using the same materials as Audubon and nests her father collected, Ms. Jones only finished a small portion of the illustrations before dying of typhoid fever. On her deathbed she asked her family to finish the project for her. They did, although it nearly ruined them financially and several other family members succumbed to typhoid in the process.
In the late 1800’s illustrated large works were financed Kickstarter-style, by subscription. Owners preordered copies and paid in advance to fund the printing. Each plate was printed and then hand-colored. Very few original copies remain, but happily the entire volume is available online for you to enjoy.
During Ms. Jones’ lifetime women had precious few options outside of marriage. I very much admire her drive and determination to find an outlet for her formidable talents. Although she was not long for this world her work stands the test of time.
View the book
The military put out a call for bilingual women during WWI, recruiting them to run switchboards in France during the war effort. Among the 100+ women who answered the call was 16-year-old Oleda Christides from the Thumb area of Michigan.
According to the Army Communicator’s website, a survivor of the “Great War” described the hazards she and the other women endured. Duty assignments at the switchboards, she said, were sometimes for 72 hours straight. The women, she said, carried on in spite of enduring the “constant noise from shelling and bombs, (under a) sky black with planes.”
Like the WASPs after them, these women were not recognized for their contributions until far, far after the fact. For more information about these amazing women, please see the following links:
by Heather Harris-Brady
Like a surprising number of Michigan women, Sarah Emma Edmonds (Flint) played an active combat role in the Civil War. Women were drawn into service through various ways – sometimes they would enter with a husband, brother or boyfriend; sometimes for the higher pay rate; and sometimes just because they felt it was their patriotic duty.
Sarah/Frank Thompson went in as a nurse April 25, 1861, volunteering for spy duties when a call went out from McClellan’s command. After some intense study she aced the interview and won the position. She used various disguises and completed 11 spying missions behind enemy lines in all.
Women who did not take part in combat supported the effort in other ways, raising funds for the soldier’s provisions and medical care through Sanitary Fairs.
by Heather Harris-Brady
Nancy Harkness Love started out life as Hannah Lincoln Harkness in Houghton, Michigan. Born on Valentine’s Day, 1914 her life as the well-educated daughter of a wealthy physician could have taken a very different, more sedate path. But by the time she reached Vassar she was already a pilot.
When her husband was called into duty in 1942 the stage was ready. She, on a parallel path with Jacqueline Cochran, advocated for a women’s piloting branch in the military to help ease the shortage of pilots. Love headed the WAFS, an original group of 25 women who ferried planes from factories to airfields. In 1943 this group merged with Cochran’s group, the Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASPs). Often these women had to move planes that needed repair, and would sometimes have to fly without radios or other necessary equipment.
The squadrons disbanded in 1944, and were not recognized for their military service until 1977. Sadly, Love didn’t live to see it, she died the year before in 1976.
PBS aired an excellent documentary on the WASPs (both radio and TV), and there are several wonderful websites of information. I hope you’ll join me in helping our young people appreciate the amazing contributions of these female squadrons. Happily, there is getting to be a nice proliferation of info on the web in just the last few years.
I am humbled and honored to move on to round two in Dee Romito’s Hook, Line and Sinker contest at writeforapples.com. There were so many great entries – I know I saw a lot of hooks that I would like to read some day!
So thank you to everyone who voted my entry on and then decided to swing by the ‘ol blog here. I’m sure you are all following the internet avidly for Malala news, as I am. If you haven’t stopped by the online petition to support the education of young women worldwide (educationenvoy.org), I hope you’ll take a minute to do so. We can’t do a lot for her at the moment, but we should seize the moment to do what we can.
It is probably a legacy of my love for weighty Russian novels, but in my estimation there is a very interesting moment in history right now:
Closing Statements, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich
They are the latest in a legacy of strong Russian women who take charge in hopes of creating a better life, much like the Five Sisters Under the Tsar. The new group of women is not nearly as radical, and it is an intriguing premise to consider that the women today may actually be less free than the five sisters in the 1870’s.
Note: I have purposely avoided including the band’s name here to make this post safe for filters.