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Women's and Gender Studies

October Highlights in U.S. Women’s History
from the National Women's History Project

  • October 3, 1904 – Mary McLeod Bethune opens her first school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida  
  • October 4, 1976 – Barbara Walters becomes the first woman co-anchor of the evening news (at ABC)  
  • October 4, 1993 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins the U.S. Supreme Court as its second woman Justice 
  • October 8, 1993 – Toni Morrison becomes the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature  
  • October 10, 1983 – Dr. Barbara McClintock receives the Nobel Prize for Medicine for her discovery in genetics about mobile genetic elements  
  • October 11, 1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first U.S. woman astronaut to “walk” in space during Challenger flight  
  • October 15, 1948 – Dr. Frances L. Willoughby is the first woman doctor in the regular U.S. Navy  
  • October 16, 1916 – Margaret Sanger opens the U.S.’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York  
  • October 23, 1910 – Blanche Stuart Scott is the first American woman pilot to make a public flight  
  • October 24, 1956 – Reverend Margaret Towner is the first woman ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church  
  • October 28, 1958 – Mary Roebling is the first woman director of a stock exchange (American Stock Exchange)   

October Birthdays

  • October 1, 1921 (1998) – Margaret Hillis, founded the Tanglewood Alumni Chorus (1950) and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, replaced Conductor Solti in directing Mahler’s Eighth Symphony (1977) 
  • October 1, 1935 – Dame Julie Andrews, versatile film and stage actress, won an academy award for “Mary Poppins” (1954) 
  • October 2, 1895 (1990) – Ruth Streeter, when Marines recruited women she became a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (1943), recruited men and women for active service 
  • October 2, 1912 (1980) – Alice Bourneuf, economist, worked on the Marshall Plan to help Europe after World War II, taught economics at Boston College (1959-77) 
  • October 2, 1919 (1997) – Shirley Clarke, filmmaker, produced avant-garde films in 1950s and 60s including “Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World,” which won an academy award for best feature documentary 
  • October 3, 1897 (1982) – Ruth Bronson, Bureau of Indian Affairs official who got loans for Indian students, National Congress of American Indians forced authorities to honor treaties (1944), wrote Indians are People, Too  
  • October 4, 1908 (1995) – Eleanor Flexner, influential author and historian, wrote Century of Struggle: The Women’s Rights Movement in the United States (1950) and Mary Wollstonecraft: A Biography (1972)     
  • October 5, 1959 – Maya Lin, artist and architect of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. (1980-82) and other public sculptures, author of Boundaries (2000) 
  • October 6, 1905 (1998) – Helen Wills Moody, dominated American women’s tennis in the 1920s and 30s with 8 Wimbledon titles and 7 U.S. singles titles   
  • October 6, 1914 (1997) – Mary Louise Smith, Republican Party committeewoman and chair (1974-77), supporter of ERA and pro-choice  
  • October 6, 1917 (1977) – Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights leader and voting rights crusader, helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964)  
  • October 7, 1913 (2005) – Elizabeth Janeway, social analyst of 20th century women’s equality drive, wrote Man’s World, Women’s Place (1971) and Powers of the Weak (1980)  
  • October 7, 1920 (1994) – Kathryn Clarenback, founding member of the National Organization for Women, executive director of the National Committee on the Observance of International Women’s Year (1977)  
  • October 8, 1881 (1981) – Esther Lape, championed U.S. participation in the Permanent Court of International Justice, which failed by 7 votes in the Senate (1935), worked for compulsory health insurance, which was supported by Presidents Truman and Eisenhower but defeated by the AMA 
  • October 9, 1823 (1893) – Mary Shadd Cary, first black woman editor in North America, “Provincial Freeman” (1853) in Windsor, Canada, helped black freed slaves know their rights 
  • October 9, 1884 (1982) – Helene Deutsch, psychoanalyst, wrote 2-volume The Psychology of Women (1944-45) with emphasis on motherhood    
  • October 9, 1892 (1992) – Abigail Eliot, founding member of the National Association for Nursery Education (1933), helped monitor quality and establish standards  
  • October 10, 1888 (1980) – Dorothy Ferebee, finally gained medical internship at Freedman’s Hospital despite rampant sexism, then built a 47-year association with Howard University hospital and the District of Columbia 
  • October 10, 1900 (1993) – Helen Hayes, actress and “First Lady of the Stage,” began in stock companies, at 17 starred as Pollyanna, in 1930s starred as Mary Queen of Scotland and Queen Victoria, won first Tony award in 1947 
  • October 11, 1884 (1962) – Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights advocate, feminist, author, world diplomat, former First Lady (1933-45)
  •  October 12, 1908 (1997) – Ann Petry, reporter for African-American newspapers in 1930s, wrote The Street, first African-American novel to sell more than a million copies (1946) 
  • October 12, 1916 (1994) – Alice Childress, actress, “Anna Lacasta” (1944), playwright, “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich” (1973)  
  • October 13, c.1754 (1832) – Mary Hays McCauley, “Molly Pitcher” of the Battle of Monmouth (1778), legendary water-carrying heroine of the American Revolution
  • October 13, 1897 (1979) – Edith Sampson, lawyer, first black American to be appointed as a United Nations delegate, first to be elected U.S. circuit judge 
  • October 14, 1893 (1993) – Lillian Gish, consummate actress, from one-reelers like “An Unseen Enemy” (1912) to “The Whales of August” (1987), wrote Lillian Gish, the Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me (1969) 
  • October 15, 1906 (1976) – Victoria Spivey, record producer, blues singer in 1920s, played a featured role in “Hallelujah”(1920), which had an all-black cast 
  • October 16, 1895 (1989) – Marguerite Rawalt, lawyer, president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women (1954-56), supporter of the ERA and entire feminist agenda, particularly including the word “sex” in Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 
  • October 16, 1925 – Angela Lansbury, actress with an 80-year career in movies from “Gaslight” (1944) to television and stage 
  • October 17, 1918 (1987) – Rita Hayworth, actress, began movies as dancing partner of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, made “Gilda” (1946), became femme fatale name for the atomic bomb on the Bikini atoll 
  • October 17, 1943 – Vilma Socorro Martinez, lawyer, first female U.S. Ambassador to Argentina (2009), civil rights crusader, one of first women on the board of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • October 18, 1889 (1968) – Fannie Hurst, author, wrote 17 novels and 9 volumes of short stories over 50 years, left approximately one million dollars each to Brandeis and Washington Universities for professorships in creative literature 
  • October c.18, 1890 (1986) – Pauline Newman, labor leader who emigrated from Lithuania (1901), aided uprising of the 20,000 in New York, hailed by Coalition of Labor Union Women as a foremother of the liberation movement 
  • October 18, 1898 (1981) – Lotte Lenya, singer and actress, interpreted and promoted Kurt Weill’s music, especially “The Threepenny Opera” 
  • October 18, 1917 (1983) – Mamie Clark, psychologist, established the Northside Center for Child Development (1946) with husband, Dr. Kenneth Clark, for the mental hygiene of the whole child 
  • October 18, 1947 (1997) – Laura Nyro, popular singer and songwriter, melded R&B, pop, doo-wop, jazz and Broadway 
  • October 18, 1951 – Terry McMillan, author of 13 novels including her first, Mama (1987), and most popular, Waiting to Exhale (1992) 
  • October 18, 1956 – Martina Navratilova, tennis champion, 9 time Wimbledon singles winner  
  • October 19, 1891 (1984) – Lois Meek Stolz, first president of Education of Young Children, (1929-31), urged Works Progress Administration to establish nursery schools 
  • October 22, 1834 (1915) – Abigail Scott Duniway, early western author and Pacific Northwest suffrage leader, (1871-1915), succeeded in winning woman suffrage in Oregon (1912), wrote Path Breaking (1914)  
  • October 22, 1919 – Doris Lessing, author, born in Iran, Nobel Laureate in 2007 
  • October 23, 1866 (1954) – Ethel Dummer, provided funds to establish the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute in Chicago (1909) to study juvenile offenders 
  • October 23, 1889 (1957) – Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, major pioneer using therapeutic relationships in treating mental illness at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland (1935-57) 
  • October 23, 1906 (1996) – Miriam Gideon, composer of approximately 70 works including “The Hound of Heaven” (1945), developed more atonal pieces for voice and instruments after beginning with a more conservative tonal style 
  • October 23, 1906 (2003) – Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim the English Channel (1926)  
  • October 23, 1911 (1999) – Martha Roundtree, creator and first moderator (1945-54) of televised show of unrehearsed panel interviews, “Meet the Press” 
  • October 24, 1830 (1917) – Belva Lockwood, attorney, first woman admitted to practice law before Supreme Court (1879), ran for U.S. President in 1884 and 1888
  • October 24, 1896 (1994) – Marjorie Joyner, helped develop and manage more than 200 Madam C. J. Walker beauty schools by 1919, added professional status to the occupation, worked with Eleanor Roosevelt and other leaders in civil rights struggles
  •  October 24, 1915 (1976) – Letitia Woods Brown, pioneer in researching and teaching African-American history, completed Ph.D. at Harvard in 1966, primary consultant for the Schlesinger Library’s Black Women Oral History Project, co-authored Washington from Banneker to Douglass 1791-1870  
  • October 24, 1923 (1997) – Denise Levertov, poet, her anti-Vietnam war poems included themes of destruction by greed, racism, and sexism in the 1970s, her later poetry recovered from despair 
  • October 25, 1894 (1985) – Marjorie Phillips, artist, embraced techniques of Van Gogh and Cezanne, introduced modern art to the Phillips Gallery as associate director of her husband’s Washington D.C. museum  
  • October 25, 1912 (1996) – Minnie Pearl, Southern vaudeville circuit performer, joined “The Grand Ole Opry” in 1940 and stayed for 50 years 
  • October 26, 1911 (1972) – Mahalia Jackson, internationally acclaimed gospel singer, sang at the 1963 March on Washington  
  • October 26, 1947 – Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State (2009-13), Senator from New York (2001-09), former First Lady (1993-2001) 
  • October 27, 1908 (1954) – Lee Krasner, artist, the Works Progress Federal Art Project in 1930s and 40s enabled her to exhibit her paintings and collages in New York and London, also aided the art and career of her husband, Jackson Pollock 
  • October 27, 1940 – Maxine Hong Kingston, award-winning author of The Woman Warrior, an autobiography about the Chinese-American female experience
  • October 28, 1842 (1932) – Anna Dickinson, orator, early champion of the rights of women and blacks, supported interracial marriage, attacked the double standard of morality 
  • October 28, 1897 (1981) – Edith Head, Hollywood costume designer, first successes were Clara Bow and Mae West, won academy awards for “The Heiress,” “Delilah,” and “The Sting” (1973) 
  • October 29, 1908 (1996) – Louise Bates Ames, child psychologist, researched and stressed normal steps in development, wrote popular newspaper advice column in 1960s 
  • October 30, 1864 (1953) – Elizabeth Coolidge, endowed first pension fund for Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1916), funded Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s Bureau of Educational Experiments, established a foundation at the Library of Congress (1925) that provided for the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Auditorium because ” music must be brought to life in performance” 
  • October 30, 1896 (1985) – Ruth Gordon, actor, one of the Lost Boys in “Peter Pan,” with Garson Kanin wrote comedies for Hepburn and Tracy movies, starred as Dolly Levi in “The Matchmaker” (1954) 
  • October 31, 1860 (1927) – Juliette Low, founder and first president of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. 
  • October 31, 1896 (1977) – Ethel Waters, singer, recorded more than 250 sides after debut (1921), unsurpassed vocalist and stylist with perfect pitch 
  • October 31, 1896 (1984) – Lutah Riggs, architect of both country estates and modest homes, advocate of preserving historic buildings
  • October 31, 1906 (1996) – Louise Talma, composer, first American woman to receive the Sibelius Medal, taught music theory and musicianship at Hunter College for 51 years  

    From the National Women's History Project



The Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Program is committed to and supports and promotes equality and equal access and opportunities for all, in all areas of society, including those that are political, social, cultural, economic, educational, personal, career and global.

We recognize that education is the foundation of success and accept the responsibility to create challenging and encouraging intellectual environments in our classrooms.

The WGS Program is also dedicated to encouraging students to claim their access and their right to equality and to providing opportunities that support such action and endeavors, both in and outside of the classroom.

We empower students to recognize their ability to change their lives, and we reach out into the community and invite the community into our program in a rich exchange of events and discussions.

Lastly, the WGS Program believes in working toward change that helps to make such equality and opportunity possible for all.

We accept the responsibility for the work we do, hold it to a high standard, and we are ready to adapt to the diverse needs of our students as they change with the times. 


The Women's and Gender Studies Program offers courses about women and gender for both women and men.

The program is designed to explore the experiences and contributions of women to their cultures.

Informed by feminist theory, Women's Studies courses:

  • challenge false assumptions and theories about women, race, and class
  • encourage rigorous critical thinking
  • raise issues of gender bias and the subjective nature of knowledge
  • support women's development as individuals and as participating members of their larger communities
  • expand women's and men's options beyond the limits of traditional gender roles.

These writing-intensive courses help students consider the difference that gender makes in family relationships, friendships, education, and work. They are comfortable settings for delving into feminist scholarship and theory.

In addition to the interdisciplinary introductory course on women's and gender studies, courses in the programinclude: women's history, literature, sociology, psychology, physical education, and women's health.

Honors modules are available for some classes. Service learning and internship opportunities are frequently offered. Opportunities to pursue independent study projects are also available.



Germantown Campus Coordinator

Professor Joanne Bagshaw
20200 Observation Dr.
Germantown, MD 20876

(240) 567-1977

Collegewide and Rockville
Collegewide Women's and Gender Studies Program Director

Professor Genevieve Carminati
51 Mannakee Street
Rockville, MD 20850
(240) 567-7446

Om Rusten, Admin Aide, 240-567-4100

Takoma Park/Silver Spring Coordinator

Professor Bess Vincent

7600 Takoma Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912

(240) 567-1397

Nancy Nyland, Webmaster, (240) 567-7854

W&GS Home page last updated September 26, 2015


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