Maria Tallchief: Osage Prima Ballerina

“Onstage, she looks as regal and exotic as a Russian princess; offstage, she is as American as wampum and apple pie,” cheered TIME magazine about prima ballerina Maria Tallchief in 1951. One of the most celebrated Native American women of the 20th century, Tallchief was the first American dancer in the history of ballet to earn […]

American Women’s Declaration of Independence: Newspaper coverage, 1848

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…” On July 20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, the first Woman’s Rights Convention approved a Declaration of Sentiments, which had been drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and modeled after the Declaration of Independence in its commitment to secure women’s […]

Gladys Pyle: American Trailblazer & “Ultra Modern” Woman

This is a guest post by Valerie Haeder, a reference librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division. South Dakota’s Gladys Pyle was the first woman elected to the South Dakota House and South Dakota’s first female U.S. Senator.  But she wouldn’t have cared about such distinctions as much as she did about getting things […]

Radium Girls: Living Dead Women

Catherine Wolfe Donohue is not a well-known name, but in the late 1930s newspapers featured her as she lay dying. She was among the women who painted luminous numbers on watch, clock, and instrument dials using radium-laced paint in factories in New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut. Dubbed “Radium Girls” and “Living Dead,” they suffered radium […]

Happy International Women’s Day!

This Friday, March 8, 2019, is International Women’s Day and today we return to our historical newspaper archives for stories featuring change-making women in newspapers searchable in Chronicling America, the Library’s freely available database that provides access to historic United States newspapers published between 1789 and 1963. As the Library’s digital collection grows to 15 […]

Sissieretta Jones: World-Famous Black Soprano

Sissieretta Jones sang for kings, presidents, and to audiences around the world, becoming the highest paid African-American entertainer of the late 19th century. She headlined at Carnegie Hall and was hailed as one of the greatest sopranos of her time, yet she never performed on the operatic stage. She was born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner in […]

Hello Girls Answer Uncle Sam’s Call

Coined as the Hello Girls as early as the late 19th century, female telephone switchboard operators were widely known as having gentle and polite voices regardless of demanding and impatient callers. During World War I, French-speaking Hello Girls were enlisted to improve wartime communication, transmitting crucial information over a battlefield phone system to troops on […]

The Unsolved Mystery of Aaron Burr’s Daughter

Theodosia Burr Alston, the beloved daughter of disgraced vice president Aaron Burr, left the port of Georgetown, South Carolina on the schooner Patriot in 1812 and was never seen again. Throughout the 19th century, newspapers titillated readers with lurid stories of her alleged fate, including captivity, murder, and deathbed confessions of former pirates. Yet her […]