famous women in history

Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, believed to be by Johann Zoffany.

Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (1761-1804) was the mixed-race daughter of a British aristocrat. While she was, under colonial law, born into slavery, she was given a unique position. She was educated and given lavish bedroom furnishings. Her work included multiple responsibilities, the most important being that of her uncle’s correspondence, and companion to her cousin. After her fathers death, she became an heiress as she was included into his will. While many of these facts are considered common decency today, Lindsay’s life was rather shocking to many during her time.

Engraving of Frances Harper from  William Still. The underground railroad.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) was an African-American abolitionist, suffragist, poet and author. She was also active in other types of social reform and was a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which advocated the federal government taking a role in progressive reform. 

Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomin series, was a lesbian.

Her life partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, was one of the most influential graphic artist of all time. Jansson is a celebrated author and artist, as well as a winner of the Hans Christian Andersen award for her contributions to children’s literature.

Don’t overlook the lesbian-ness of these two brilliant women in love, some of the most celebrated female artists of their time.

Faith Ringgold  – Self Portrait –  Pastel

Faith Ringgold was born in New York City in 1930. While working as an art teacher in public schools, she began a series of paintings called American People, which portrayed the civil rights movement from a female perspective. In the 1970s, she created African-style masks, painted political posters and actively sought the racial integration of the New York art world. During the 1980s, she began a series of quilts that are among her best-known works, and she later embarked on a successful career as a children’s book author and illustrator.

anonymous asked:

Is naming weapons a real life thing? All named weapons I have ever heard of are from fiction.

Yes, it’s a real thing. People named their swords, just like people name their cars. The swords whose names we remember usually came from famous warriors or men/women of history.

Charlemagne’s sword was called Joyeuse. Most of the AIs from Bungie games like Cortana are named after real swords. Named swords are rather mythic on their own though. The name attaches a provenance to the weapon. So, it’s a specific sword with a specific history that may be passed from person to person.

In Western literary tradition, named swords have mythic importance and the provenance notes the importance of the blade. These weapons are legacies, where the inheritor carries on the will of their ancestors, marks them as a rightful heir, or as a person of narrative importance. Aragorn inheriting Narsil is akin to Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake or Beowulf receiving Hrunting from Unferth (also wielding Naegling.) Often, these swords will have mythical or magical qualities. They also don’t need to carry a single weapon.

Gifted to him by the Irish God Aengus Óg, Diarmuid ap Duibhne wielded Gáe Dearg (Red Spear), from whose blow a cut would never heal and a sword Móralltach, the Great Fury (gifted to Aengus Óg by Manannán mac Lir), that left no blow unfinished. He had a spear that would make you bleed forever and a sword you couldn’t block. He also carried Gáe Buidhe (Yellow Spear) and the sword Beagalltach aka the Little Fury. These were used for lesser battles, so he didn’t accidentally kill everyone he encountered.

Usually the sword symbolizes either legitimacy or the passing of intent from one wielder to another. These swords work as literary devices, passed down from a time period when stories and legends were spoken as oral tradition. Named weapons are a way for the audience to know the hero is important because the weapon has legacy and a history that is passed on for good or ill. (In Hrunting’s case the symbolism is from the previous wielder and their failure.) However, the legends come from a real practice by real people.

At the end of the day, it’s not really any different from people naming their cars or computers.


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Toni Morrison by  Cathleen Antoine - Oil Paint and Mixed Media

Born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor and professor. 

If you want to fly, you have to give up the thing that weighs you down 

So give up the love you lost,

opportunities you missed,

give up the burden of that long time grudge,

that old fear that always breaks your spirit

and keeps you locked up in perpetual failure,

gather up air under your wings and get ready to take off,

if you strongly desire success, then you must fly,

so get up and conquer the sky. 

~Toni Morrison


LGBTQ Hero: Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a American singer, dancer and night club performer who achieved fame in Paris in the 1920s. She was also known for being a civil rights advocate and for fighting racism. What is less known is that she was also a lesbian or bisexual woman.

Josephine Baker’s Lady Lovers:

Josephine Baker was about 13 when she started dancing. She began dancing in night clubs and giving street performances and by 1919 she was touring the US with on the Black vaudeville circuit. While on tour she became the protegee of star blues singer Clara Smith. Or in the lingo of the time she was Smith’s “lady lover.“ 

In the biography of Josephine Baker, The Hungry Heart, Author Jean Claude mentions six of Josephine’s women lovers by name:

  • Clara Smith, an American classic female blues singer. Before Josephine met Smith, she went by Freda Baker. Smith convinced her to use Josephine Baker as her stage name.
  • Evelyn Sheppard, Bessie Allison, and Mildred Smallwood—all African-American women Josephine met while performing.
  • American black expatriate Ada “Bricktop” Smith. She was also a dancer, singer, vaudevillian and self-described saloon-keeper.
  • Colette, a French novelist and performer. A controversial figure throughout her life, Colette flaunted her lesbian affairs.

While not listed in the book, Josephine’s affair with Frida Kahlo was later confirmed. And while Frida was openly bisexual, Josephine was rather secretive about her affairs with women, denying her bisexuality to a point of homophobia.

A Life in Paris:

Josephine Baker was an instant hit in Paris when she performed there in 1925.

She performed in a show called La Folie du Jour wearing just a skirt made of 16 bananas. The show was wildly popular with Parisian audiences and Baker was soon among the most popular and highest-paid performers in Europe. This is when she earned nicknames The Black Venus and The Black Pearl.

Josephine Baker and The French Resistance:

Josephine Baker married a French man and earned her French citizenship. When World War II broke out, she worked for the Red Cross. She entertained troops in Africa and the Middle East and worked for the French Resistance, sneaking messages in her music box. She was awarded two of France’s highest military honors for her efforts.

Josephine Baker and the Civil Rights Movement:

Josephine Baker was active in the US Civil Rights movement and visited the US often during the 1950s to lend support to the movement. She participated in demonstrations and walked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington. During her career she was often outspoken about racism and when she returned to the US to perform in she insisted on only playing integrated venues. Because of her, many performance halls changed their policies about integration.

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe:

Josephine Baker had several husbands, but her last was Jo Bouillon, a French jazz bandleader. Together they adopted 12 children from around the world.

Their relationship was not harmonious, however. In fact, Bouillon was gay and had many male lovers that he flaunted and the two would have public shouting matches about their various affairs with the same sex.

Josephine Baker and Her Gay Fans:

Josephine Baker had a big gay following, perhaps because her show was flamboyant and campy. Her audience also connected with her vulnerability and her willingness to share her pain. Although she had many gay friends, Josephine Baker was not always a friend to the gays. She had her moments of homophobic outbursts and certainly was never out about any of her affairs with women while she was alive. Her biographer says that she sent one of her children to go live with his father when she caught him having sex with another young man, so as not to “contaminate” the other children.

So while it is clear that Josephine Baker did have female lovers and would most likely be considered bisexual by today’s standards, she didn’t wholly embrace that side of herself.

Josephine Baker died of cerebral hemorrhage in Paris on April 10, 1975.


[image description]

[Ethel Smyth, a dapper and butch-presenting woman, as a younger and an older woman.

Annie Kenney, shown as a young woman.

Edith Craig, posed with a thoughtful hand to her jaw and looking rather like a Byronic hero.

(From left) Edith Craig with her partners Clare “Tony” Atwood and Christabel Marshall St. John.

Rosa May Billinghurst, depicted at the center of two crowd scenes. In the first, she is wearing an overcoat and sitting in an old-fashioned wheelchair;  in the second, she has a rather grand hat and is in her famous adaptive tricycle. ]

For @disabilityfest this year, I wanted to continue what I started last year, making posts about historical figures who were disabled. It’s been really important to me to know that my forebears existed, survived, and in some cases thrived. In the historical record, disability erasure is a huge issue: many historical figures’ disabilities aren’t talked about, or the individuals are forgotten entirely.

As an autistic bisexual woman, I’m very aware that sexuality is also subject to historical erasure, often in much the same way. So I’ve decided to focus especially on disabled historical figures who were also gay or bisexual. For me, finding out about and researching historical people who represent those important intersections in my identity has been very powerful, and I hope my information can also benefit some of you.

Today’s post is about disabled suffragettes! (trigger warning for brief mentions of police brutality).

Keep reading

historical women: agrippina the younger

great-granddaughter of emperor augustus, niece of emperor tiberius, sister to emperor caligula, mother to emperor nero, and later, empress, made her the most influential woman in the whole of roman history. famed as ruthless and ambitious, there are accounts of her murdering her husband, the emperor claudius, with a plate of poisoned mushrooms in order to make her son emperor. her efforts were not repaid, however, as nero had her murdered. it is told that when the assassin came, she bared her chest and said ‘smite my womb’, for she wished for the part of her that had given birth to nero to be destroyed.