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Articles Categorized Women’s History

It’s Administrative Professionals Week: From Secretary to Administrative Professional

In 1957, Time Magazine observed a national shortage of secretaries.  With over 21 million women in the workforce, only 2 million were employed as secretaries which meant that every day there were 250,000 unfilled secretarial positions. To make matters worse, employers were caught in a dilemma. Women over age 35 were considered to set in

First Ladies Move into a Post-War World

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office on March 4, 1933, unemployment was 25 percent; homes and farms were lost to foreclosure, and people were hungry. Hobos rode the rails looking for work. Farmers from the Great Plains migrated to California, a journey described by John Steinbeck in the Grapes of Wrath.  Incumbent

First Ladies in the “Roaring Twenties”

For various reasons, we are more aware of some First Ladies than others. Last week, I skipped over Edith Roosevelt and Helen Taft in favor of closing the blog with Edith Wilson. This week, I intended to begin with Lou Hoover, but I started thinking about 1920 as a pivotal year.  The United States had

First Ladies in Unusual Circumstances

After the civil war, American First Ladies were women with direct experience in the social movements of their time. As young women, none had any expectation of the office they would hold, but their role as presidential spouses continued to bring change to the White House. The Election of 1876 After eight years in the

First Ladies: Expanding the Role

During the course of the nineteenth century, First Ladies emerged from behind their husband’s careers to become separate personalities. Though these women were still identified most broadly as wives and mothers, social expectations changed. This second installment in my series about First Ladies profiles a selection of nineteenth century First Ladies who caught my interest:

Lillian Gilbreth & The Modern American Kitchen

This is a story about Lillian Gilbreth and how she applied principles of scientific management developed by Frederick Taylor to modernize American kitchens.  Taylor believed there was one best way to accomplish any task. The trick is to find it. Once the method is discovered, tools and work methods can be standardized to increase efficient

West v.West:The Salem Scandal of 1806,Part 3

On November 19, 1806, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts declared the matrimonial bonds of Elizabeth Derby West and Nathaniel West to be dissolved on grounds of Nathaniel’s adulterous activities. Elizabeth charged these acts took place both before and after the new divorce law passed on March 7, 1806. The court disagreed, ruling that evidence

West v.West:The Salem Scandal of 1806, Part 2

On May 23, 1783, Elizabeth Derby married Nathaniel West. As noted in last week’s blog, Betsey, as she was known, was the eldest daughter of the richest man in Salem, Massachusetts. Betsey was 21 years old, free to marry the man of her choice. Nathaniel West, five years older than his bride, had been sailing

West v. West:The Salem Scandal of 1806, Part I

In 1761 Elias Hasket Derby, age 22,  married Elizabeth Crowninshield, age 26. When they married, Elias’ father built them a brick house on Salem’s waterfront. Elizabeth’s father provided household items, including furniture, linen, brass kettles, and looking glasses. Elias acquired a new beaver hat to mark the occasion.  The couple were well-suited. The Derby family

VICTORY OVER SMALL POX

While spending time sheltering-in-place at home, I, like many other people, considered previous pandemics. Many media stories compare COVID-19 to the 1918 H1N1 virus pandemic. But that event is one of many throughout history, including small pox, also known as the speckled monster, a virulent viral disease once endemic in Europe, Asia, and Arabia. It