Tag Archives: history

From Bicycle Makers to Airplane Engineers

Orville and Wilbur Wright were brothers famous for the first heavier than air, self propelled aircraft flight.  They never went to college and started out as owners of a bicycle repair shop in Ohio.  They built bicycles, ran the shop, and dreamed of building aircrafts.  This dream led to exhaustive research on aircraft developments.  Based on German engineers’ designs, they looked for a perfect site to test out their new ideas.  On the recommendation from the U.S. Weather Bureau, they chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. as the perfect site to test their ideas out.  They even built their own wind tunnel to test wings and airframes.  By early 1903 Orville and Wilbur perfected their designs.  They just needed an engine.  Their single combustible engine was built by machinist Charles Taylor.  With all of the different components ready, they transported them separately to Kitty Hawk, before assembling.  The first test was on December 14th, 1903.  The airplane did not pass the take-off phase as the engine stalled.  The brothers worked exhaustively on the repairs before it was finally ready for a second test 110 years ago today, December 17th, 1903.  This time the airplane lifted off the ground, flew 120 feet in 12 seconds, before landing safely.  They were able to fly it three more times that day, with Wilbur flying the last test at 852 feet in 59 seconds.  The brothers went on to form the Wright Company in 1909.  Their first plane is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.


For more information on the Wright Brothers, take a look at the Rebecca Crown Library’s collection. 

References: First airplane flies. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved 11:21, December 17, 2013, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-airplane-flies.

Image from Wikimedia commons, and is in the public domain.  Retrieved from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wrightflyer.jpg


Remembering Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Rosary College

The Sisters of Sinsinawa enjoyed a warm, ongoing relationship with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt over the years.  One can see evidence of this in our Archives, through various letters, photographs, and even a signed etching of the 32nd President presented to the College in 1935.  There is perhaps no aspect of this association remembered more fondly than that of Eleanor’s visit to Rosary College in 1936.

Program from Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Rosary College

Mrs. Roosevelt joined a speaking tour of many American college campuses that year in an effort to promote the value of peace to the youth of the day.  In an effort to perhaps prevent the imminent European conflict to come, Eleanor joined with the Catholic Association of International Peace during its fall events to make a public plea to reconsider the use of brute force to achieve a lasting peace.  Instead, she counseled, we ought to first look within ourselves for the peace we so desire and thereby avert war.

She invoked the following verse at the opening of her speech, one which she voiced at many of her public appearances in the fall of 1936 –

“I am weary with thought of the madness
That rules in the kingdoms of men;
The hopelessness, horror and sadness
That preludes world slaughter again:
My nights are undone with pursuing
Dream-ways where I labor for naught;
My days were beginnings of doing,
Where hardly beginnings are wrought.”

She continued by describing her own experiences of the first World War, describing her encounter with the wounded returning from the war who were housed in a ward for the insane.  This inspired her to reflect on the meaning of war and its impact on every home, every community, and every individual, regardless of his or her personal participation in the conflict.  She noted that these lessons never seem to temper policy-makers’ promotion of war, even though the stated goals of any conflict are rarely achieved.  Her lessons certainly bear repeating and continue to resonate today.  Please enjoy this piece of our history as we celebrate an anniversary of Eleanor’s visit with our Rosary College students.

Eleanor Roosevelt, center, with roses


March is Women’s History Month

Woman dropping ballot in ballot box, in Parliamentary election, re first time women allowed to vote, in illustration drawn by F. Matania. United Kingdom, Date Taken, December 18, 1918.  Image from Life database.

March is Women’s History Month

“National Womens History Month:  honorary observance of the month of March, as designated in 1987 by the U.S. Congress, in recognition of women’s many accomplishments throughout history. A variety of agencies, schools, and organizations observe the month by focusing on the “consistently overlooked and undervalued” role of American women in history. Libraries and communities promote special events that emphasize the achievements of women.”

“The significance of the month of March dates to the mid-19th century when, on March 8, 1857, a group of female garment workers in New York City staged a protest to demand better working conditions and pay. Police aggressively halted the demonstration, but several years later the determined women formed their own union. In 1911, March 19 was observed as International Women’s Day (IWD) to acknowledge women’s continuing struggle for recognition and rights. The date of IWD was changed to March 8 in 1921. In 1978 the schools of Sonoma county, California, named March Women’s History Month as a means of examining women’s history, issues, and contributions. The idea gained momentum, and in 1981 a congressional resolution proclaimed the week surrounding March 8 National Women’s History Week. In 1986 the National Women’s History Project played a significant role in the expansion of the observance to the entire month of March.”

“Other countries soon adopted similar month-long events. In 1992 Canada began celebrating Women’s History Month. October was selected as the designated month to commemorate the so-called Persons Case, in which the Privy Council of England (then Canada’s highest court of appeal) ruled in October 1929 that females were persons under the law, a decision that contradicted an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada. In March 2000 Australia began holding its own Women’s History Month.”   “National Women’s History Month.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 7 Mar. 2009

Women of Many Nations

Exhibit located on the 1st Floor of Rebecca Crown Library

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh. Afghan Women: Identity and Invasion. London: Zed Books, Limited, Feb. 2008.                                   (Call number, HQ1735.6 .R67 2007)


Afghan Women arrives at a crucial moment in the history of the global ‘War on Terror’ and provides us with a powerful analysis of the condition of women five years the ‘liberation’ of Afghanistan…After years of neglect, Afghan women were suddenly made visible in familiar roles in the War Story–roles that called for protection and for rescue–used this time (as in many other times) to help legitimize a military intervention. But ‘Is Afghanistan better now?’ (p.74) the author asks.

If politicians and international stakeholders tend to be generally optimistic about the advancements of the reconstruction process, Povey’s analysis provides us with a drastically different understanding of the situation…The first [chapter] describes women’s strategies for survival and struggle during the civil war and the Taliban regime…The second chapter is an account of women’s current situation in the broader context of military occupation and neo-liberal development policies…The last chapter analyses patterns of identity formation and changes in gender relations among Afghans in exile in Iran, Pakistan, the US and the UK.

Through life stories collected among various groups of women, Povey describes their struggle for survival and resistance. In contrast with success stories written by journalists employed by press conglomerates and military strategists, these women’s narratives illustrate the background setting against which Afghan women are fighting for the recognition of their rights.” Billaud, Julie. Rev. of Afghan Women: Identity and Invasionby Elaheh Rostami Povey. Feminist Theory Sep. 2008: 370-72.

African Women South of the Sahara

Stichter, Sharon B., and Jean Hay. African Women South of the Sahara. White Plains: Longman Publishing Group, July 1995. (Call number, HQ1788 .A571984)


“An interdisciplinary introductory text for undergraduates providing an overview of African women in the economy, in society and culture, and in politics and policy. First edition, 1984. Contains a few b&w photographs. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.” Reference and Research Book News, 19960300

Book Cover

Roy, Manisha. Bengali Women. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Jan. 1975. (Call number, HQ1744.B4 R68)


“First published in 1972 and again in 1975, this study of Hindu Bengali women in upper and upper-middle class families in India is cited in BCL3. In a new afterword, Roy discusses changes in Bengali society and culture over the last two decades which have direct bearings on women’s lives: divorce and the breakup of the joint family, education, increasing Westernization, and the erosion of traditional religious practices. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” Reference & Research Book News, 01/01/ 1993

Evans, Harriet. The Subject of Gender: Daughters and Mothers in Urban China. Asian Voices Ser. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated, Dec. 2007. (Call number, HQ1767 .E83 2008)


“Through analysis of interviews conducted with 31 women spanning several generations, Evans (Chinese cultural studies, Univ. of Westminster) illustrates the impacts of political discourses, popular culture, and economic reforms on women’s female subjectivities and relationships with the most significant women in their lives–their mothers and daughters. This focus on the mother-daughter relationship constitutes a significant shift in China studies away from the family as exclusive patriline toward an inclusive understanding of women’s identities within the context of their female relationships.

Using Foucault’s notion of the discursive subject, Bourdieu’s understanding of embodied patriarchy, and Butler’s theory of gender as performance to analyze her interviewees’ narratives, Evans demonstrates that these women used their language and actions to both respond to and actively shape the gender discourses of their respective eras, simultaneously subscribing to and contesting patriarchy. Evans structures her work around eight recurrent themes in her interviewees’ narratives: separation, communication, reciprocity, private and public worlds, independence and difference, male privilege, filiality, and maternal authority. Her multigenerational approach historicizes motherhood and illustrates shifts in female subjectivity from the 1950s through the present. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers; all levels. N. E. Barnes University of California, Irvine” Choice, 20080901

Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Gender and American Culture)

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,  1988. (Call Number, HQ1438.A13 F69 1988)


“In her rich and rewarding book, Fox-Genovese challenges many of the conventions about women’s history, which has been largely extrapolated from the experiences of northeastern women. Southern women black and white were southerners, bound by a rural world built on human bondage and race and dominated by men. These women were not passive or victims, but resourceful and resistant. Still, Fox-Genovese rejects the now fashionable view that planters’ wives harbored antislavery or feminist sentiments. She places slave women at the center of opposition to slavery. Fox-Genovese has given black and white Southern women voices. Eloquent and powerful; for university and public libraries.Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph’s Univ., Philadelphia” Library Journal, 12/01/1988

Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan

Wolf, Margery. Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, June 1972.          (Call number, HQ1740.5 .W65)


“…Women and the Family presents a stimulating new perspective on Chinese rural society because it focuses on the largely neglected role of women… The author maintains that this androcentricity has partially distorted our vision of Chinese society, that “really” looks quite different from the woman’s point of view…The author also maintains that the women’s community functions as a conservative force in the village and that the women, especially the older ones, are suspicious of any change that threatens their traditional way of life. If this is true for other parts of China, it might be time to reexamine the role that peasant women played in the Chinese Communist revolution. Were peasant women part of the revolutionary vanguard during the early 1950s, as some Western feminist have argued, or were they reluctant participants in a social movement dominated by men? The problem is not easily resolved, of course, but Wolf’s analysis of the women’s community is a good example of the kind of insight that the fieldworking anthropologist can provide for an understanding of social change in post-revolutionary China… Wolf writes with great clarity and never loses track of her general audience. Women and the Family is highly recommended for specialists as well as non-specialists.” Watson, James L. Rev. of Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan, by Margery Wolf. The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 34, No. 4 (Aug., 1975): 1039-41.

Lebra, Joyce. Women in Changing Japan. Special Studies on China and East Asia Ser. Boulder: Westview Press, May 1976.                    (Call number, HQ1762 .W65)


“There has long been a need felt for a good book on the roles of women in modern Japan…The authors of the 13 articles in this book come from a wide range of academic backgrounds, ranging from anthropology to German and political science, although all are American and all are women. Most of the authors reply heavily on interviews of women in specific roles in modern Japanese society and quote extensively from their informants, even including 15 pages of autobiography of one key informant. These first-person data are excellent and often more valuable than the analyses that accompany them… I would recommend that this volume be on the shelf of everyone interested in contemporary social structure in Japan or in comparative women’s roles in society.” Johnson, Thomas W. Rev. of Women in Changing Japan, by Joyce Lebra. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 80, No. 2  (Jun., 1978): 445.

Websites about Women’s History

American Women’s History: A Research Guide

American Women’s History provides citations to print and Internet reference sources, as well as to selected large primary source collections. The guide also provides information about the tools researchers can use to find additional books, articles, dissertations, and primary sources.” This site was compiled by a librarian at Middle Tennessee State University Library, and specializes in American women’s history.


Library of Congress Celebrates Women’s History Month

“The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.”


National Women’s History Project

“The National Women’s History Project, founded in 1980, is an educational nonprofit organization. Our mission is to recognize and celebrate the diverse and historic accomplishments of women by providing information and educational materials and programs.”