On that day in history, Congress passed the 19th Amendment! It was a milestone in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The U.S. Senate passed the 19th Amendment 56-25 granted women the right to vote. It passed by two votes over the required two-thirds majority. In the U.S. House of Representatives the vote had passed about two weeks earlier on May 21st. There “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” passed the House 304 to 89, a full 42 votes above the required two-thirds majority. The final step was to send the amendment to the states for ratification. (which took over a year.)
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (1832-1888)
is remembered for her endearing story of “Little Women.” But her first successful work was “Hospital Sketches” where she describes her experiences for six weeks of nursing in a Union hospital during the Civil War. The hard work ruined her health and she contracted typhoid fever and was treated with mercury. She survived but remarked, “I was never ill before this time and never well afterward.”
Like nurses today, CLARA BARTON (1821-1912,) of North Oxford, MA, risked her own life to save others. Known as “the angel of the battlefield,” she left her job and went to distribute relief supplies to wounded soldiers during the Civil War. After the war, she identified some 12,000 graves of the Union dead at Andersonville Prison and wrote letters to their families. She was a founder of the American Red Cross, organized hospitals and advocated for humane treatment of the wounded. Barton provided disaster relief at the Florida yellow fever epidemic, Russian famine, Armenian massacre, the Galveston flood and more.
During the Holocaust, Nazis performed painful and debilitating experiments on women in the camps. Nazi doctors studied what happens to the human body when drugs or bacteria are injected and foreign objects (wood, metal and glass) are inserted. Some of these victims, called “Lapins”or rabbits, who survived the war lived in excruciating pain. A New York City actress, CAROLINE WOOLSEY FARRIDAY (1902-1990,) who lived in Bethlehem, Connecticut, used her money and her influence to help some of these Polish women by having U.S. doctors attempt reconstructive surgeries and remove foreign objects (implanted by the Nazis.) Ferriday was a true humanitarian.
America’s first woman dentist was from Connecticut. EMELINE ROBERTS JONES (1836-1916) married a dentist who suppressed her interest in the field because he thought women were unfit with their “frail and clumsy fingers.” So Emeline studied in secret and practiced on teeth her husband had extracted. After her husband died, Emeline continued his Danielsonville practice and traveled with a portable dental chair. Later, Emeline Jones opened a practice in New Haven and was joined by her son educated at Harvard and Yale. Emeline Jones’ career in dentistry spanned six decades.
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820-1910) is “The Lady with the Lamp.” Perhaps no single individual did more to make nursing the sanitary and scientific procedure it is today. She was born May 12, 1820, in the Italian city for which she is named. She studied nursing at various institutions. During the Crimean War she supervised British army hospitals and the nursing staff caring for 10,000 sick and wounded men. With her efforts the death rate fell from forty-two per cent to two per cent. She opened the Nightingale Nurse’s Training Home to teach modern practices.