The Dinner Party – Wing 2 – Part 1

This is part 2 of the series on The Dinner Party By Judy Chicago. I will be splitting this into 2 parts as it gets a bit long I noticed with the first one. Please enjoy!

I do shorten what is on the website to make it slightly more readable in our format here.

The photos and all information in this post are from the Brooklyn Museum. (Copyright © 2004–2019 the Brooklyn Museum.)

Link to Website: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/home

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Wing One blog here.

Wing Two

Christianity to the Reformation

The Dinner Party: Wing Two

 


Marcella
(b. circa 325, Rome, Italy; d. 410, Rome, Italy)Marcella was a Roman noble woman who was canonized, or declared a saint, by the Vatican for her role in founding the Christian monastic system. Monasticism dates back to Marcella’s time and is practiced today as a system in which religious devotees renounce their worldly possessions and declare their lives to God. They live together in monasteries under strict religious rules that vary according to the sect.Marcella was married at a young age, following the death of her father. She was subsequently widowed in the seventh month of her marriage. Rather than remarry, as was custom in Roman society, she declared celibacy, devoting her life to God and the study of the Bible. She owned a palace on Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills that would make up the site where Rome was built, which she turned into a refuge for other noble women wishing to devote their lives to Christianity. The women followed the model of the ascetic monks by renouncing worldly pleasures such as lavish meals, material possessions, and sexual pleasure, to attain spiritual goals.Marcella’s piety and the reputation of her Christian refuge prompted the formation of several other similar groups in Rome, which began the Roman monastic movement. Marcella ran her informal convent until the year 410, when the Goths invaded Rome. Soldiers ransacked her palace searching for the treasure Marcella was rumored to have. Though she had given away all of her fortunes to the poor, the soldiers beat her to learn the hiding place of her wealth. She managed to escape, but she died from the injuries soon after, in the arms of her favorite pupil, Principia.Despite her contributions to the founding of the monastic system, Marcella remains one of the lesser-known saints of the Roman Catholic Church. She is remembered each year on her saint’s day, January thirty-first.

Marcella at The Dinner Party:
Marcella’s place setting is decorated with the symbols of her sainthood and those of the Christian church. On the runner is an outline of the architectural plan for early Christian basilicas. Marcella’s plate rests on this plan, locating her as an important figure in the early organization of Christianity, central to its development. The front edge of the runner is made of woven camel hairs, also used to make shirts worn by early Christians like Marcella and members of the ascetic women’s convent she founded. These shirts, whose rough fibers irritated the skin, were worn under clothes in an act of penance. Another important symbol on the front of the runner, located in the first initial of Marcella’s name, is the figure of a woman praying in orans posture—her arms spread out and reaching upward.

The back of the runner contains other symbols important to the early church and to Marcella’s life. The scroll symbolizes learning, an important part of convents, as they were often the only sites of education for women in early society. Below the scroll is a composite image of a fish, staff, and triangle. The triangle was an early symbol of female genitalia, which became a symbol of the goddess and the sacred feminine, but in Christianity it also represents the Holy Trinity of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The triangle encompasses the staff, a symbol of Christ as the “Good Shepherd”; it also symbolizes the leadership and authority conferred on bishops. The fish, another early symbol of the church, was used by Christians as a secret means of denoting their faith under fear of persecution; the Greek letters that spell out the word “fish,” also start each of the words “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” These symbols identify Marcella as a “savior of women” during the early Christian period, comparable to Christ (Chicago, Embroidering Our Heritage, 109). The ship, also appears on the back of the runner, is another important symbol of early Christianity, representing the Christian church sailing through the “perilous waters” of all that is not Christian; its presence links Marcella’s life, including all of the peril she faced, with the development of the church and Christian monasteries.

 

Saint Bridget
(b. 453, Fochard, Northern Ireland; d. 523, Kildare, Ireland)Saint Bridget of Ireland was a determined, faithful Catholic who was responsible for starting convents and monasteries throughout Ireland. Also known as Bride, Bridget of Ireland, Bride of the Isles, and Mary of the Gael, she now reigns as one of the most recognized saints in Ireland; she and Saint Patrick are the only Irish saints to hold a place on the celebrated Catholic Calendar of Saints. (Bridget’s day is February 1st.)She was born to a Pagan Scottish king and his Christian slave; her mother raised her as a Christian. At a young age she was returned to her father who arranged a marriage for her, which she refused, desiring to keep her virginity. During her early life, there were no convents or religious houses for women in Ireland, and the local bishop, St. Mel of Armagh, gave St. Bridget permission to start one with seven other nuns. She established what would become known as Kildare, or “the church of the oak,” in 470 at the foot of Croghan Hill, building her own room under a large oak tree. As it was the first of its kind, it was soon filled with like-minded followers.At the invitation of bishops throughout Ireland, Bridget soon founded other convents, as well as the first double monastery, a house with separate lodgings for both nuns and monks called Kildare on the Liffey.  The lore of Bridget is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the adaptation of Celtic and Pagan beliefs to Christianity. Bridget is equated with her Pagan counterpart, Brigid, who was the Celtic goddess of poetry, healing, and metal arts. Christian hagiographers, or biographers, transformed one figure into the other by embellishing the details of Bridget’s life and stressing her virginity and community-building qualities in an effort to appeal to Celtic Pagans and to draw them into the fledgling religion. She eventually developed into the Christian saint of learning, healing, and domestic arts.

Saint Bridget at The Dinner Party:
In an early drawing for the plate, Chicago refers to Saint Bridget as a “goddess of milk and fire.” She is represented as a flame in the plate imagery; on the back of the runner, surrounding the Celtic cross; and on the runner’s front, in the illuminated letter “S” in her name. The flame is a literal translation of her Celtic name, which means “fiery arrow.” It also represents the fire that nuns kept lit in honor of Saint Bridget after her death.

The flame and plant imagery coexist on the plate, complementing each other; the leaves are not singed from the fire. The overlaying of the imagery suggests the Christian Saint Bridget emerging from the Pagan and Celtic goddess Brigid. The front border is a wooden panel carved in a Celtic knot motif popular in Northern Europe. On the back of the runner, there is a stylized wooden Christian cross, based on a Muiredach cross, a symbol of Irish Christianity. The oak used for the Celtic and Christian images and the bark-colored silk in the runner represent the first convent Bridget founded, Kildare, or “the church of the oak.”

 

Theodora
(b. 500, Crete or Syria, exact location unknown; d. 548, Constantinople)Empress Theodora was born into the lowest classes of Byzantine society, eventually advancing to rule over the Byzantine Empire equally with her husband.She grew up on the outskirts of the Byzantine Empire with a father who was an animal trainer. After his death, Theodora took the stage as an actress to support the family. In 516, at the age of sixteen, she traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, where she discovered and adopted Monophysitism, the belief that Jesus Christ was wholly divine. Theodora converted, renouncing her former career and lifestyle.Theodora met Justinian I in 522, who was at that time heir to the throne. Justinian wanted to wed immediately, but as heir, he was forbidden to marry an actress, even one who had reformed. Justinian had this law repealed the following year, and the two were married in 525. Theodora and Justinian were known for ruling as intellectual and political equals, and Theodora was responsible for much of the reformation of Byzantium. In 528, construction began on the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, built as an imperial church on the outskirts of the Byzantine Empire. The basilica’s mosaic, completed in 548, depicts both the emperor and the empress participating in an imperial procession, signifying her equal role and importance in ruling the empire.

In 532, religious unrest plagued the region. A conflict between two political and religious groups, the Blues and the Greens, began during a chariot race at the Hippodrome and quickly grew into what is now known as the Nika Revolt. This revolt destroyed much of Constantinople, and many saw this as a chance to overthrow Justinian, who wished to flee. Instead, Theodora spoke out, preferring to die a ruler than to be removed from power, and her courage prompted Justinian to send in troops to calm the rebels. After quelling the revolt, Theodora and Justinian confronted the destruction of important monuments in Constantinople, including the original Hagia Sophia. The couple rebuilt the basilica, which was rededicated in 537. It was the largest church of the period and later became one of the greatest examples of Byzantine architecture.

During her time as empress, Theodora fought for the persecuted. She attended to the rights of prostitutes in particular by closing brothels, creating protective safe houses, and passing laws to prohibit forced prostitution. In addition, she passed laws that expanded the rights of women in divorce cases and abolished a law that had allowed women to be killed for committing adultery. Finally, she strove to protect the persecuted Monophysites, building houses of worship that served as refuges. Theodora died in 548, but her influence was apparent in Justinian’s subsequent rule. He sought to maintain the same level of freedom for women, setting a precedent for women’s equality. He also fought for the Monophysites, despite his own conflicting orthodox beliefs.

Theodora at The Dinner Party:
Empress Theodora’s place setting uses Byzantine iconography and mosaics to convey her important role in building the Byzantine Empire. The mosaic portrays Theodora and Justinian in full imperial regalia and sets the color scheme of gold, green, and purple for both the plate and the runner.

Theodora’s plate was painted to resemble mosaic tiles. The imagery is a symmetrical abstract butterfly form, each wing stretching to the edge of the plate. The extended wings represent Theodora’s ability to expand her own role in Byzantium and to create freedoms for women during her time. The symmetry of the image echoes a basilica plan, with a colonnade of Roman arches in the upper quadrants of the wings.

A mosaic-like halo is embroidered on the runner, the plate resting in its center, which references the halo in the Ravenna mosaic and associates Theodora with both her imperial reign and her religious work. Embroidered on the illuminated capital “T” is the dome from one of the most celebrated architectural monuments of Theodora’s reign, Hagia Sophia, built in 530. The back of the runner is finished with a half-shell design, referencing the imperial collars worn during Theodora’s reign.

 

Hrosvitha
(b. circa 935, possibly Lower Saxony, Germany; d. circa 1000, Gandersheim, Germany)Hrosvitha is the earliest-known woman poet in Germany, and some scholars even consider her the first dramatist, or playwright, since ancient times. During her lifetime, Hrosvitha divided her own works into three manuscripts: Book of Legends, Book of Drama, and Epics (dates uncertain). The legends and plays still exist, but the two works included in Epics are lost.Very few details are known about Hrosvitha’s life and those that are known are often disputed. We do know that she was a nun, or canoness, at the Benedictine monastery of Gandersheim in Saxony. Gandersheim was founded in 852 as a monastery for the nobility, and so it is assumed that Hrosvitha was of noble Saxon birth. She probably entered the monastery at a relatively young age although some scholars believe she spent a good portion of her childhood at the Ottonian court, based on similarities between her work and the work of writers who frequented the Ottonian court during the early part of her lifetime.Most of Hrosvitha’s writings recount the lives of martyrs, praising those who lead ascetic lives, forgoing sumptuous meals, material possessions, and sexual pleasure in the pursuit of spiritual goals. The lost Epics comprised a history on the life of Otto I, the King of the Germans and Holy Roman Emperor who lived from 912 to 973, and a history of Gandersheim Abbey as it existed between the years of 846 and 919. A woman ahead of her time, Hrosvitha’s last work was completed in 973, and not until two hundred years after her death was medieval drama again composed.

Hrosvitha at The Dinner Party:
Hrosvitha’s place setting, particularly her runner, recounts her life through imagery from medieval German abbeys. Her plate portrays a stylized version of a nun’s cap and hands clasped in prayer, in a relief that references ivory carvings of the Ottonian dynasty (early 900s–1024).

The runner pays tribute to her contribution to literature as a poet and playwright.  The roundels on the front of the runner mimic the coins frequently made by German abbesses, who had considerable power in society and counted the right of coinage among their many privileges. The four roundels portray scenes of early German history and folklore, including a scene from the household of a noble medieval family; a female servant telling Germanic tales to the lord and lady’s daughter; a princess from the warring Germanic Cimbrian tribe of the second century B.C.E. with the head of an enemy soldier; and a Valkyrie, one of the minor female deities descended from Germanic mythology, who were in charge of finding the most heroic warriors to fight alongside the chief god, Odin, in the battle at the end of the world. These roundels both illustrate the roles women undertook and the activities they engaged in; they also recount tales of courageous mythical women, who are depicted in the third and fourth scenes.

On the back of the runner are three embroidered scenes from Hrosvitha’s life that also illustrate the activities of medieval nuns. In the first, she is entering the abbey where two nuns are singing and playing music, demonstrating the types of education women received there. In the second panel, Hrosvitha is writing while her abbess looks on. In the third, she is asleep at her writing table, dreaming of a visit from a royal messenger, who would present her with a relic in recognition of her literary work.On the front of the runner, the illuminated letter “H” pays tribute to Hrosvitha’s work as a writer; an embroidered portrait depicts her holding a quill, engaged in the act of composition.

 

Trotula
(b. unknown; d. 1097, Salerno, Italy)Trotula of Salerno was an eleventh-century Italian doctor, who is frequently regarded as the world’s first gynecologist. Her many achievements in the male-dominated specialty of gynecology both educated her contemporaries and advanced progressive ideas about women’s health care.

Trotula served as a physician and professor at the Medical School in Salerno, Italy, the first medical school in the world. Her husband and sons were also doctors at the school, which was one of the only schools in Europe to instruct and employ both men and women. Trotula distinguished her work with a specific focus on the medical needs of women. Attentive to women’s diseases and overall health, she became highly skilled at diagnosing uniquely female medical issues ranging from pregnancy-related complications to those related to female hygiene. She advocated for the use of opiates during labor, opposing the Christian belief of the time that women should experience a maximum of suffering during childbirth as punishment for Eve‘s sin. She also revolutionized the medical field by suggesting that men could also be infertile.

Long after her death, doctors throughout the medieval world relied on her medical reference work to treat female patients. Trotula Major on Gynecology, also known as Passionibus Mulierum Curandorum (The Diseases of Women), was a sixty-three chapter book first published in Latin in the 12th century; it is still regarded as the definitive sourcebook for pre-modern medical practices. The only book written to educate male doctors about the female body, it included information about menstruation and childbirth in addition to general medical advice.

During the Renaissance, some scholars began to express doubt that Trotula was a woman, and others believed she was an entirely fictional character. It was supposed that a male physician Trottus had written the complex material in Trotula Major, and that Trotula was a midwife. Though scholars today believe she did, in fact, exist, there is continued research into whether Trotula’s writings are solely hers or compiled from many authors.

Trotula at The Dinner Party:
Trotula’s place setting combines references to her role as a doctor with childbirth and caretaking. The Tree of Life image in the runner highlights Trotula’s profession as a gynecologist. Tree of Life imagery has a strong and evolving heritage, beginning in ancient times and continuing into Christianity, as a symbol of life and regeneration. In creating the runner, Chicago chose to use the trapunto technique with a quilt that can be dated back to 11th century Sicily. The white fabric of the runner is reminiscent of swaddling cloth, and the piece itself is a quilt, creating a visual link to the familiar baby blanket.

Trotula’s plate features a birthing image, as well as serpentine imagery that resembles the caduceus, a symbol for medicine and doctors that is now used as the symbol for the American Medical Association. These serpentine forms also reference the Aztec fertility goddess who served as the patron of midwives. Chicago chose the snake motif “because of its historical association with feminine wisdom and powers of healing” (Chicago, A Symbol of Our Heritage, 74).

Eleanor of Aquitaine
(b. 1122, Aquitaine, France; d. 1204, Anjou, France)Eleanor of Aquitaine served as queen of both France and England in the twelfth century, making her one of the most powerful women of the time. Eleanor and her court were also responsible for the development of courtly love, ideals and etiquette governing the courtship of knights and ladies, which became the accepted mode of behavior for the nobility throughout medieval Europe.

Upon her father’s death in 1137, she inherited Aquitaine along with seven other countries. She was placed under the guardianship of King Louis VI and married his son Louis VII at the age of fifteen. In 1146, Louis VII embarked on a crusade, in Jerusalem and Damascus; he was joined by Eleanor, her ladies in waiting, and many of their subjects, who weren’t part of the nobility. Legend suggests that during the crusade, Eleanor and her ladies dressed as Amazons, or mythical warrior women of ancient Greece, to pay tribute to women as warriors and to mark the presence of women in Louis VII’s military actions. The French armies were largely unsuccessful during the crusade, and Eleanor was partially blamed for poor strategic decisions one of her subordinates had made. This association further sullied her reputation, which was already tainted by rumors of affairs with one of her subjects as well as with her uncle, the Prince of Antioch.

Eleanor’s marriage to Louis VII was annulled in 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity, or relationship by blood or common ancestor; consanguinity was often used as the case for annulment, if the familial relationship was unknown at the time of marriage and the degree of relation was close. To protect herself and her lands from political enemies that would have taken advantage of her vulnerability as a single female ruler, Eleanor was married six weeks later to Henry II, Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy (in modern-day France), and her cousin to the same degree that Louis had been. Henry II became king of England two years after his marriage to Eleanor.

In 1173, Eleanor and Henry’s son, also named Henry, launched a revolt against the king; she instructed some of her other sons to join in. Learning of it, Henry II imprisoned his wife, first in France, and then in various locations throughout England. Her imprisonment lasted 16 years, until the day of Henry’s death in 1189. Her son Richard I became King of England, but due to his age, Eleanor ruled in his name. She outlived Richard and also became important in the reign of the next king, her youngest son, John.

At the age of seventy-seven, Eleanor traveled to Castile, France, where she chose one of her granddaughters to become a wife to Louis VIII, heir to King Philip II of France. During the return trip, their escort, a famous warrior, was slain by a rival; afterwards Eleanor fell ill from the emotional trauma of the event. She entrusted her charge to the Archbishop of Bordeaux and went to rest at Fontevrault, her castle in France, where her health remained poor. Eleanor took the veil and lived as a nun at Fontevrault until her death in 1204, having outlived nearly all of her children. She was buried at Fontevrault Abbey where her second husband, Henry II, and son Richard were also entombed.

Eleanor of Aquitaine at The Dinner Party:
Eleanor of Aquitaine is represented by a fleur-de-lis, repeated on the front and back of her runner, as well as in the illuminated letter “E” at the beginning of her name. The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of France and was commonly found in the art of the Middle Ages. It is also related to the iris, and both the iris and the fleur-de-lis are symbols of the Virgin Mary. Their deep blue color represents her fidelity; the blade-like shape of the leaves denotes her heart being pierced by sorrow for her son, which refers to Mary’s conversation with Simeon in Luke 2:35. The Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, was increasingly worshipped in the Middle Ages; the allusions to her in the runner also signify Eleanor’s power as queen.

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s runner is modeled after tapestries made by noble women to hang as decoration in feudal castles or to use during ceremonial parades. The imagery is taken from the famous Unicorn Tapestries, circa 1495–1505, in which mystical unicorns appear within the corrals. The corral on the runner surrounds Eleanor’s plate. It symbolizes Eleanor’s imprisonment by her second husband, Henry II, and compares her power as queen with that of the mystical unicorn. The flower patterns on the runner are derived from the tapestries of the Middle Ages, which were covered with mille fleurs, also seen in the Unicorn Tapestries.

Hildegarde of Bingen
(b. 1098, Böckelheim, Germany; d. 1179, Ruperstberg, Germany)Hildegarde of Bingen, also known as St. Hildegard and the Sybil of the Rhine, was an enormously influential and spiritual woman, who paved the way for other women to succeed in a number of fields from theology to music. She was a mystic writer, who completed three books of her visions. During a time when members of the Catholic Church accorded women little respect, Hildegarde was consulted by bishops and consorted with the Pope, exerting influence over them.

The tenth child to a noble family, Hildegarde was placed under the care of a Catholic anchoress named Jutta, at the age of eight. Jutta was a recluse who set up a Benedictine community just outside of Bingen.  Although she claimed to have had supernatural visions as an infant, she hid her prophetic ability, revealing it only to Jutta, who died when Hildegarde was 38.

In 1136, Hildegarde assumed the role of Mother Superior of the convent. In 1147, she moved the convent to Rupertsberg, a town near Bingen, as urged by one of her visions. Although never formally educated and unable to write, Hildegarde quickly became a well-regarded authority and gave influential advice, relying on secretaries to transcribe her ideas onto paper. She was an idolized visionary who earned a saint-like status and name, despite her lack of official beatification.

She wrote on topics ranging from philosophy to natural healing with a critical expertise praised by both German advice-seekers and the highest-ranking figure in the Church, Pope Eugenius III. An esteemed advocate for scientific research, Hildegarde was one of the earliest promoters of the use of herbal medicine to treat ailments.

Hildegarde may be best known as a composer. Stemming from the traditional incantations of Church music, Hildegarde’s compositions took the form of a single chant-like, melodic line. These compositions are called antiphons and are a single line of music sung before and after a psalm. Hildegarde combined all of her music into a cycle called Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum, circa 1151, or The Symphony of the Harmony of the Heavenly Revelations, which reflects her belief that music was the highest praise to God. Hildegarde of Bingen stands out as an extraordinary figure in women’s history, not only as a talented musician but also as an unapologetically prodigious woman who found remarkable success by expressing her unique voice.

Hildegarde of Bingen at The Dinner Party:
Hildegarde’s place setting is based on the structure of a Gothic cathedral. Her plate is painted as a rose window, the central stained glass window in any cathedral, often considered the spiritual center of the church. When viewed from different angles, the iridescent white and yellow hues of the plate transform, playing with light and shadow, and giving the effect of rose glass.

One arch frames the plate, putting focus on the rose window. Chicago used the opus anglicanum, or “English work,” embroidery technique, which was generally used in ecclesiastical vestments. Its use in the runner associates Hildegarde with bishops and kings whose vestments would have been adorned in the same manner. The runner replicates the iridescent colors in the plate, and includes two additional stained-glass windows stitched on either side of Hildegarde’s name, completing the Gothic architectural structure.

Hildegarde herself created a drawing, or illumination, in her manuscript Scivias (Know the Ways), circa 1140–50, of her defining vision, in which the great span of the universe revealed itself to her in a trance as “round and shadowy…pointed at the top, like an egg…its outermost layer of a bright fire.” Chicago chose to duplicate that drawing on the back of the runner. The center is a deep blue, dotted with stars and faces breathing life into the universe. Bordering this blue is ring of abstracted flames in burgundy and dark orange. The outermost portion is raised gold embroidery done with the opus anglicanum technique.

By adding this illumination, the place setting displays the harmonious balance between the religious and secular aspects of Hildegarde’s life. As a woman of the church, a composer, and a pioneer of holistic medicine, she devoted herself to helping others in the physical world, while simultaneously maintaining a spiritual life.

 

A Catholic Sexologist and 10 Years of Badass Babes

Ten Episodes! Whoo! Glad your still here. Today will be a little different and Emily tried to really stretch the 10 thing and I did what has occurred in the last 10 years for women. Enjoy! ~Kelley

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Born: 1098     Died: 1179

What they did: Christian mystic, visionary, and first sexologist?

Facts:

  • In 1098, Hildegard was born as the 10th (and final) child to a noble family and therefore offered by her parents as tithe (or giving one tenth) to the church when she was 8 years old.
    • Giving your 10th child to the church was a common practice at the time. This may have also helped her parent’s politically.
  • As a child, Hildegard was sickly and experienced visions. This may have also contributed to their decision to give her to the church.
  • During her time in the church, she was taught for 10 years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta.
  • Together, Hildegard and Blessed Jutta created a close nit and growing community of women in a male dominated monastery.
  • Jutta also taught Hildegard to read and write and they would work together in the garden, recite psalms, and tend to the sick. Hildegard studied music.
  • After 10 years of instruction, at 18 years old, Hildegard became a Benedictine nun.
  • When Blessed Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected as magistra or head teacher by her fellow nuns.
  • She was also offered a position as a Prioress by the monastery’s Abbot. This would have meant she would serve under him. Instead, Hildegard, wanting more independence for herself and the other nuns, and asked that the Abbot allow them to move from the monastery to a temporary dwelling where they would live in poverty.
  • Hildegard came down with a serious illness which left her bedridden. She felt that the illness was God’s way of showing His disappointment in Hildegard not following the Abbot’s wishes.
  • The Abbot finally relented and granted the nuns their own monastery. Stubbornness and paralyzing illness for the win!
  • In 1150, Hildegard with 20 other nuns moved to the St. Rupertsberg monastery.
  • 15 years later, Hildegard founded a second monastery for nuns at Eibingen.
  • Back to her visions, she described these visions a “The Shade of the Living Light.”
  • She would experience her visions with all five senses and said she saw all things through the light of God. The only one she shared her visions with was Blessed Jutta who in turn had told Volmar (who was the priest living at her monastery now)
  • Though she experienced visions all her life, when she was 42, she experienced a vision that she felt was God telling her to write down what she saw and heard.
    • However, she was still hesitant to share her visions and became seriously ill and experienced horrific visions which caused her to suffer.
  • She confided in Volmar who alerted the archbishop. A committee was formed to authenticate her visions and a monk was appointed to help Hildegard record them.
  • The collection of writings, known as the Scivias (Sivvy-us) or “Know the Ways” held 26 visions that ranged from prophetic and apocalyptic and covered topics about the church, redemption, and the relationship between God and humanity.
  • The Scivias was split into 3 parts, reflecting the trinity and contained illustrations. She completed the 3 parts when she was in her 70s.
  • Now, beyond her holy visions, Hildegard had a great love of music and composed pieces, each with original poetic text. 70 still survive.
    • One of her better known works, the Ordo Virtutum or Play of the Virtues is a morality play comprised of 82 songs. While it addresses morality, it doesn’t celebrate the church making it the earliest known musical drama that is not attached to a liturgy.
  • Hildegard didn’t stop there. She also wrote about medicine and science. Her scientific and medicinal writings come from her experience working in the garden with Blessed Jutta and caring for the sick along with her own independent study of the monastery library texts.
  • She explored topics including psychology, physiology, and women’s sexuality, making her one of the first people to do so.
    • Though a lot of her assertions were ‘unscientific’ by today’s standards, for example, she wrote that a waxing moon is good for human conception because it was also good for sowing seeds.
    • Hildegard was hailed as an expert and counseled kings, emperors, and even the Pope which was mind-blowing at the time.
  • Hildegard was the first person to write a description of the female orgasm from the point of view of a woman. She also advocated that sex was a beautiful and passionate act.
  • SHE EVEN CREATED A MAP OF THE UNIVERSE BASED ON THE VAGINA.
  • None of this was meant to go against the church. She thought people’s passion and their sexuality was an exhibition of divinity and she worked to expand understanding of sex and its ties with religion. Because the two can have a healthy relationship.
  • Hildegard was a curious, open-minded, and compassionate person.
  • Shortly before her death, a man who had been excommunicated from the church had died and was buried at the St. Rupertsburg Monastary. The clergy wanted to remove his body from the sacred ground but Hildegard would hear none of it, saying it would be a sin to move the man’s body as he had been reconciled to the church at his time of death.
  • When Hildegard died on September 17th, 1179. Upon her death, the sisters claimed they saw two streams of light appear in the skies and cross over the room where she lay.
  • Though Hildegard was one of the first people to begin the canonization process to become a saint, it actually took many attempts as the process was so long.
    • For a long time, she was stuck in the beatification stage, where the church acknowledges someone has gotten into heaven and can intervene on behalf of those who pray to them.
    • In 2012, Hildegard was canonized on May 10th 2012 by Pope Benedict the XVI and she was named a Doctor of the Church.
    • This title signifies someone who has made significant theological contributions through research, study, or writing. This made her the 4th woman of 35 saints to receive this title.
    • Her feast day is September 17th.

Highlights from the last 10 years! (condensed from the podcast)

2009

  • Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, for The Hurt Locker (2008).
  • Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, and since she was American, the first American woman to do so; she shared the prize with Oliver E. Williamson.
  • Jeanne Shaheen became the first woman to hold the offices of U.S. Senator and state Governor, being elected as governor of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2003 and U.S. senator for New Hampshire since 2009.

2010

  • Jennifer Gorovitz was the first woman to lead a large Jewish federation in America (specifically, the Jewish Community Federation, based in San Francisco).

2011

  • Angella Reid was the first female White House Chief Usher.

2012

  • United Nations passes a resolution banning female genital mutilation. The terror—and, unfortunate reality—of young girls up to the age of 15 having their genitals mutilated came to a screeching halt in 2012 (at least on paper) when the United Nations called on citizens worldwide to stop the practice, which has been most common in countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, affecting as many as 200 million girls and women. Thanks to increased awareness of this physically and emotionally scarring practice, February 6 was named International Day of Zero Tolerance.
  • Janet Wolfenbarger was the first female four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.
  • New Hampshire elects the first all-woman congressional delegation in U.S. history, with U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster.

2013

  • Danica Patrick was the first woman to win a pole in the Daytona 500 and a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race.
  • Rabbi Deborah Waxman was elected as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As the President, she is believed to have been the first woman and first lesbian to lead a Jewish congregational union, and the first female rabbi and first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary; RRC is both a congregational union and a seminary.
  • Erika Schmidt was the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
  • General Motors named Mary Barra as its first female CEO and the first female CEO of a major automaker.
  • Deborah Rutter was named as the first female president of the Kennedy Center.

2014

  • Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate as the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve.
  • The first women competed in ski jumping at the Olympics.
  • Michelle J. Howard began her assignment as the U.S. Navy’s first female and first female African-American four-star admiral on July 1, 2014.
  • Katie Higgins was the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.

2015

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Michelle K. Lee as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[283] Lee is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the USPTO.

2016

  • Hillary Clinton was formally nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016, becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
  • Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the popular vote in a United States presidential election.
  • Faith Spotted Eagle became the first Native American and second woman to receive an electoral vote for president, which she received from a faithless elector.

2017

  • Saudi Arabia lifts ban on female drivers. Imagine being a woman in this Middle Eastern country and needing a man to give you a lift for simple errands like picking up groceries at the market or visiting a friend. Last fall, the Saudi Arabian government lifted the ban on female drivers, set to take effect in June 2018.
  • India rules sex with minors illegal. A sign of the modernization of India was a Supreme Court ruling in October that deemed rape with a female under the age of 18 (even if the minor is a child bride) illegal. Further, being charged with this crime can result in a ten-year prison sentence. This ruling helps discourage the tradition of child brides and speaks to the country’s attempt to create more equal marriages.
  • Lebanon repeals law that sided with male rapists. It’s hard to believe, but until last summer, a male rapist in Lebanon could be exonerated if he married his rape victim. In August, Lebanon’s Parliament finally repealed the ancient law at the urging of women’s rights activists not only in Lebanon but around the world.

2018

  • Iceland requires fair pay for women. Some countries talk a good game about equal pay for women, but Iceland made it the law of the land. Earlier this year, Iceland became the first country in the world to make it illegal—resulting in a fine—to pay men and women in the same job differently. One major difference between this law and the Equal Pay Act in the United States is that the burden is no longer on the employee to make this claim. To support women in business, take your money to one of these 23 amazing shopping sites that support women.
  • Gina Haspel became the first woman to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Stacey Cunningham became the first female President of the New York Stock Exchange.

2019

  • Nancy Pelosi became the first women to be reelected as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

 

Top 10 Women of 21st Century

  1. Ellen DeGeneres

    220px-PortiadeRossiEllenDeGeneresHWOFSept2012

    Portia de Rossi and DeGeneres in September 2012 From – Wikipedia

Born: January 26, 1958 (age 61)

According to a poll by Variety magazine in 2015, Ellen DeGeneres did more to influence American attitudes in regard to gay rights than any other celebrity. The talk show host came out as gay in 1997.She has authored four books and started her own record company, Eleveneleven, as well as a production company, A Very Good Production. She also launched a lifestyle brand, ED Ellen DeGeneres, which comprises a collection of apparel, accessories, home, baby, and pet items.She has won 30 Emmys (29 daytime 1 prime-time), 21 People’s Choice Awards (more than any other person), and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts. Recently, on 2016, she won the Presidential medal of Freedom aka the United States’ Highest Civilian Honor which given directly by President Barack Obama.

  1.  Ai-jen Poo

    220px-Ai_Jen_Poo_2012_Shankbone_2

    Poo at the 2012 Time 100 gala From – Wikipedia

1974 (age 45 years)

Ai-jen Poo was a driving force behind the worker-led movement Domestic Workers United (a city-wide, multiracial organization of domestic workers) in New York City. The organization’s campaigns led to better conditions for domestic workers, raised awareness of economic contributions that domestic workers provide, helped get legal representation for abused workers, and crafted a framework of legal standards for workers. Ai-jen is a 2014 MacArthur “genius” Fellow, TIME 100 alumna and has been featured at United State of Women Summit, Aspen Ideas Festival, Obama Foundation Summit and the Women’s Convention. She is author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America as well.

  1. Malala Yousafzai

    1024px-Malala_Yousafzai_2015

    Yousafzai in October 2015 From – Wikipedia

July 12, 1997 (age 21 years)

Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for women’s education rights, won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17, making her the youngest recipient ever. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. She started her activism for the first time on September 2008 when she was 12, when her father took her to Peshawar, to a local press club in which she gave a speech titled “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right To Education” . This caused the Taliban issued a death threat because of her activism. On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in the Swat District, after taking an exam, Yousafzai and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled the scene. Yousafzai was hit in the head with a bullet and remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but her condition later improved enough for her to be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The attempt on her life sparked an international outpouring of support for Yousafzai and on her 16th birthday on 2013, she gave speech for the United Nations to call for worldwide access education and even the United Nations called the event “Malala Day”.

  1. Oprah Winfrey

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    Winfrey at the White House for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors From – Wikipedia

January 29, 1954 (age 65 years)

Oprah Winfrey, the first African-American female billionaire, has had a significant influence on American culture since her time as a television talk show host. She played a key role in the emergence of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate and continues to be politically active.

 

 

 

  1. Judith Butler

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    Butler in March 2012 From – Wikipedia

February 24, 1956 (age 63 years

Judith Butler is a philosopher and gender theorist who has written influential books on feminist and gay topics. Her books, such as “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity” and “Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex,” challenge conventions about gender.

 

 

 

 

  1. Beyonce

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    Beyoncé performing during The Beyoncé Experience tour (2007) From – Wikipedia

September 4, 1981 (age 37 years)

Beyonce has more Grammy nominations, 66, than any other female performer, and she has won 22 times. She is an icon for feminism and for African American culture. She dipped her toe into politics at Super Bowl 50, when she had her backup singers dress in black with black berets and afros to protest racial injustice.

 

 

 

 

  1. J.K. Rowling

    J._K._Rowling_2010

    Rowling at the White House, April 2010 From – Wikipedia

July 31, 1965 (age 53 years)

J.K. Rowling emerged from relative poverty in the United Kingdom to become the world’s first billionaire author as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy book series. Her influence was such that she was the runner-up as Time magazine’s person of the year in 2007 because her books had been such an inspiration for her fans. Aside from her literary work, Rowling has established and contributed to charitable organizations to fight poverty and social inequality throughout the world. Since becoming so wealthy, Rowling has donated funds to several different charities, especially in the areas of poverty and multiple sclerosis (the disease from which her mother died). Her contributions, as well as her volunteer work, have been an example to millions of young readers.

  1. Yoani María Sánchez Cordero

    IRedes_2013_(7)

    From Wikipedia

September 4, 1975 (age 43 years)

Yoani María Sánchez Cordero is a Cuban journalist and entrepreneur who gained notoriety and fans such as President Barack Obama for writing critically about Cuban daily life. She depicts life on the island nation through her blog “Generacion Y” that is translated into 17 languages. Sánchez Cordero overcomes censorship by emailing her blog to friends living outside Cuba, who then post them online.

  1. Laverne Cox

    220px-Laverne_Cox_by_Sachyn_Mital_cropped

    Cox in July 2014 From – Wikipedia

May 29, 1972 (age 46 years

Laverne Cox is one of the highest-profile figures in the transgender community. She plays a transgender character on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and does much advocacy work on behalf of her community. Cox has played other transgender characters on television, appearing in 2008 on the VH1 show “I Want to Work for Diddy.” She is the first transgender woman of color to appear on a reality TV show. She is the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time magazine. In May 2016, Cox was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School in New York City for her progressive work in the fight for gender equality.

 

 

  1. Michelle Obama

    Michelle_Obama_at_National_Craft_Museum,_Delhi,_2010

    Obama with children in Delhi, November 8, 2010. From – Wikipedia

January 17, 1964 (age 55 years)

Michelle Obama is a lawyer and writer who was First Lady of The United States from 2009-2017. She is married to the 44th President of United States, Barack Obama. She is also an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating. Her political and activism works as First Lady are really inspiring, some initiatives of First Lady Michelle Obama include advocating on behalf of military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, and promoting the arts and arts education. On May 2014, she joined the campaign to bring back school girls who had been kidnapped in Nigeria. In 2010, Obama undertook her first lead role in an administration-wide initiative, which she named “Let’s Move!,” to make progress in reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity. She’s also supports the LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

  1. Women and girls everywhere. “Unnamed and often unrecognized, many women and girls put their bodies and their lives at risk every day, fighting for social justice in small and big ways, to make the lives of other women and girls better, along with a more just world for us all. Any list of the most influential women must include all of those who remain unnamed.” – Mary Ebeling, PhD
    Everyone is capable of enacting change. We are the future and are in control of what we want the future to look like. As Amelia Earhart once said, “the most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

A Fleeing Physicist & The Cinderella of Science

Hedwig Kohn

Born: April 5, 1887          Died: November 26, 1964

What they did: Physicist

Facts:

  • Hedwig was born in Breslau, Germany (modern day Wroclaw, Poland) to Jewish parents Georg and Helene.
  • When she was 20, Hedwig entered Breslau University as an auditor, a year before women were actually allowed to attend, and earned her doctorate in physics in 1913, becoming the second woman to do so.
  • In 1914, she as appointed as an assistant by her advisor, Otto Lummer, a physicist known for precision radiation measurements that contributed to Planck’s law.
  • Her career would focus on radiation and spectroscopy.
  • Throughout World War I, Hedwig taught and advised doctoral students, despite only being in her 20s.
  • Her efforts were recognized and she received a medal after the war.
  • In 1930, Hedwig earned Habilitation. This means she was now qualified to conduct teaching on her own and is a key step towards full professorship. During this time, she guided the work of eight doctoral students.
  • In 1933, Hedwig was forced out of her position at the University for being Jewish.
    • Due to a new Nazi law, “The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” which prevented Jews from government service.
  • Hedwig continued working in a small back room in the Physics Institute, fulfilling contracts for applied research.
  • In 1935, Hedwig was able to work for 3 months in the Licht-Klimatisches Observatorium in Arosa, Switzerland where she measured ultra-violet light intensity from the sun. Unfortunately, this didn’t result in a permanent position.
  • By 1938, Hedwig was without work or financial resources.
  • With the growing violence and political hostility towards Jews, Hedwig realized that she needed to escape quickly. However, without a job or money, she was trapped.
  • There were a lot of barriers to finding a job and escaping Nazi Germany for Hedwig.
    • Lack of University jobs due to the Great Depression
    • She was a well-respected physicist in Germany and was not she internationally known or a professor
    • The fact she was foreign
    • The fact she was German
    • She was Jewish
    • She was a woman
  • Something else that made it impossible to obtain a U.S. visa was that the United States required applicants to have held a teaching job within the last two years and have held that position for two years.
  • Finally, in 1938, physicist Rudolf Walter Ladenburg began working to help Hedwig immigrate to the U.S. Rudolf had been a lecturer at Breslau University and helped direct Hedwig’s doctoral research.
  • Rudolf worked with the International Federation of University Women and the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning to secure Hedwig a job at Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1939.
  • Unfortunately, before she could flee, war broke out and England immediately canceled all visas for “enemy aliens.”
  • After this, there was an exchange of 70 letters between Hedwig, Rudolf, other prominent physicists, representatives of the American Association of University Women, and more as they tried to secure Hedwig another way out of Nazi Germany.
  • Together, they were finally able to secure Hedwig 3 consecutive one-year positions at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, Sweetbriar College in Virginia, and Wellesley College in Massachussetts.
  • This allowed her to secure a U.S. visa by way of a visa to Sweden in July of 1940.
  • Though out of Nazi Germany, Hedwig’s troubles were not over. She still had to get from Stockholm Sweden to Greensboro, North Carolina. The only thing separating her from the U.S. was a war torn Atlantic Ocean.
  • After a two month journey, Hedwig was finally able to make it to the United States in January of 1941.
  • She started teaching at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and stayed there for a year and a half.
  • She was described as having a persistent optimism and good humor.
  • She moved to the next University, Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
  • There, she established a research laboratory for flame spectroscopy.
  • She was well regarded at Wellesley and even won a college research
    award.
  • She ended up staying at Wellesley until her retirement in 1952.
  • After her retirement, she was awarded a pension and the title of professor emerita by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • This is a title given to female professors who retire with honorable standing and they get to maintain the title of professor even after retirement.
  • After she retired, for the next 12 years, she pursued independent research as a Research Associate at Duke University.
  • While at Duke, Hedwig established a research laboratory, guided two graduate students to their doctorates, and recruited two post-doctoral fellows to assist with her study of flame spectroscopy.
  • This work led to a breakthrough in the framework of combustion science and plasma physics.
  • She continued this work until shortly before her death in 1964, when she was 77 years old.

Legacy

  • Early in her career, Hedwig wrote 270 pages of a leading textbook called “Mueller-Pouillets Lehrbuch
    der Physik” (Mueller-Pouillets Physics Textbook) and received one patent.
  • Her doctoral thesis was still being cited through the 1970s.
  • She was most recently commemorated with the Google Doodle on April 5 th , 2019, which would have been her 132nd birthday.

Caroline Herschel

Born: March 16, 1750     Died: 1848

What they did: Cinderella of Science

Facts:

  • Born Caroline Lucretia Herschel in Germany on March 16, 1750.
    • She was the eighth child and fourth daughter of Isaac Herschel, a self-taught oboist, and his wife, Anna Ilse Moritzen.
    • Her father who encouraged her education but a mother who wanted to keep her as a lifelong servant.
  • When she was three years old, smallpox left her face scarred. Then, at age 10, typhus stunted her growth at 130 centimeters (4’3″) tall.
  • Her family assumed that she would never marry and her mother felt it was best for her to train to be a house servant rather than becoming educated in accordance with her father’s wishes.
  • Her father sometimes took advantage of her mother’s absence by tutoring her individually, or including her in her brother’s lessons, such as violin.
  • Caroline was briefly allowed to learn dress-making.
    • To prevent her from becoming a governess and earning her independence that way, she was forbidden from learning French or more advanced needlework than what she could pick up from neighbors.
  • When she was 22, following her Father’s death her brothers William and Alexander rescued her, inviting her to live with them in Bath, England.
  • Caroline did not blend in with the local society and made few friends, but was finally able to indulge her desire to learn, and took regular singing, English, and arithmetic lessons from her brother, and dance lessons from a local teacher.
  • Eventually she became an integral part in William’s musical performances at small gatherings. She became the principal singer at his oratorio concerts, and acquired a reputation as a vocalist.
  • She was offered an engagement for the Birmingham festival after a performance of Handel’s Messiah in April 1778, where she was the first soloist.
    • She declined to sing for any conductor but William, and after that performance, her career as a singer began to decline.
    • Caroline was subsequently replaced as a performer by distinguished soloists from outside the area because William wished to spend less time in rehearsals to focus on astronomy.
  • When William became increasingly interested in astronomy, transforming himself from a musician to an astronomer, Caroline again supported his efforts.
  • She said somewhat bitterly, in her Memoir, “I did nothing for my brother but what a well-trained puppy dog would have done, that is to say, I did what he commanded me.”
  • In the 1770s, William started to build his own telescopes from lenses he had ground, unhappy with the quality of lenses he was able to purchase.
  • Caroline would feed him and read to him as he worked, despite her desire to burnish her career as a professional singer.
  • Caroline spent many hours polishing mirrors and mounting telescopes in order to maximize the amount of light captured.
  • She learned to copy astronomical catalogs and other publications that William had borrowed.
  • She also learned to record, reduce, and organize her brother’s astronomical observations. She recognized that this work demanded speed, precision and accuracy.
  • She became a significant astronomer in her own right as a result of her collaboration with him.
  • Caroline and William gave their last musical performance in 1782, when her brother accepted the private office of court astronomer to King George III.
  • Caroline was asked to move from the high culture of Bath to the relative backwater of Datchet in 1782, a small town near Windsor Castle where William would be on hand to entertain royal guests.
  • He presumed that Caroline would become his assistant, a role she did not initially accept.
  • While William worked on a catalogue of 3,000 stars, studied double stars, and attempted to discover the cause of Mira’s and Algol’s variability, Caroline was asked to “sweep” the sky, meticulously moving through the sky in strips to search for interesting objects.
  • On 28 August 1782 Caroline initiated her first record book. She inscribed the first three opening pages: “This is what I call the Bills & Rec.ds of my Comets”, “Comets and Letters”, and “Books of Observations”. This, along with two subsequent books, currently belong to the Herschel trove at the Royal Astronomical Society in London.
  • On 26 February 1783, Caroline made her first discovery: she had found a nebula that was not included in the Messier catalog.
  • That same night, she independently discovered Messier 110 (NGC 205), the second companion of the Andromeda Galaxy.
  • Caroline was relegated to a ladder on William’s 20-foot reflector, attempting impossible measurements of double stars.
  • William quickly realized his method of searching for nebulae was inefficient and he required an assistant to keep records.
  • Naturally, he turned to Caroline.
  • In the summer of 1783, William finished building a comet-searching telescope for Caroline, which she began to use immediately.
  • Beginning in October 1783, the Herschels used a 20-foot reflecting telescope to search for nebulae.
  • Initially, William attempted to both observe and record objects, but this too was inefficient and again turned to Caroline.
  • She sat by a window inside, William shouted his observations, and Caroline recorded.
  • This was not a simple clerical task, however, because she would have to use John Flamsteed’s catalogue to identify the star William used as a reference point for the nebulae. Because Flamsteed’s catalogue was organized by constellation, it was less useful to the Herschels, so Caroline created her own catalogue organized by north polar distance.
  • The following morning, Caroline would go over her notes and write up formal observations, which she called “minding the heavens.”
  • She discovered her first comet  on 1 August 1786.
  • Five of her comets were published in Philosophical Transactions. A packet of paper bearing the superscription, “This is what I call the Bills and Receipts of my Comets” contains some data connected with the discovery of each of these objects.
  • William was summoned to Windsor Castle to demonstrate Caroline’s comet to the royal family. William recorded this phenomenon, himself, terming it “My Sister’s Comet.”
  • Caroline Herschel is often credited as the first woman to discover a comet; however, Maria Kirch discovered a comet in the early 1700s, but is often overlooked because at the time, the discovery was attributed to her husband, Gottfried Kirch.
  • In 1787, she was granted an annual salary of £50 (equivalent to £6,200 in 2019) by George III for her work as William’s assistant.
    • Caroline’s appointment made her the first woman in England honored with an official government position, and the first woman to be paid for her work in astronomy—at a time when even men rarely received wages for scientific enterprises.
    • It was the first money that Caroline had ever earned in her own right.
  • She wrote a letter to the Astronomer Royal to announce the discovery of her second comet. The third comet was discovered on 7 January 1790, and the fourth one on 17 April 1790. All  of these were discovered with her 1783 telescope.
  • In 1791, Caroline began to use a 9-inch telescope for her comet-searching, and discovered three more comets with this instrument.
  • Her last comet was discovered on 6 August 1797, the only comet she discovered without optical aid.
  • In 1797 William’s observations had shown that there were a great many discrepancies in the star catalog published by John Flamsteed, which was difficult to use because it had been published as two volumes, the catalog proper and a volume of original observations, and contained many errors.
  • William realized that he needed a proper cross-index to properly explore these differences but was reluctant to devote time to it at the expense of his more interesting astronomical activities.
    • He therefore recommended to Caroline that she undertake the task, which ultimately took 20 months.
  • The resulting Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars was published by the Royal Society in 1798 and contained an index of every observation of every star made by Flamsteed, a list of errata, and a list of more than 560 stars that had not been included.
  • In 1802, the Royal Society published Caroline’s catalogue in its Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A under William’s name. This listed around 500 new nebulae and clusters to the already known 2000.
  • After her brother died in 1822, Caroline was grief-stricken and moved back to Hanover, Germany, continuing her astronomical studies to verify and confirm William’s findings.
    • However, her observations were hampered by the architecture in Hanover, and she spent most of her time working on a catalog.
  • She arranged two-and-a-half thousand nebulae and star clusters into zones of similar polar distances so that her nephew, John Herschel, could re-examine them systematically.
  • The list was eventually enlarged and renamed the New General Catalogue. Many non-stellar objects are still identified by their NGC number.
  • Caroline added her final entry to her observing book on 31 January 1824 about the Great Comet of 1832, which had already been discovered on 29 December 1823.
  • Throughout the twilight of her life, Caroline remained physically active and healthy, and regularly socialized with other scientific luminaries.
  • She spent her last years writing her memoirs and lamenting her body’s limitations, which kept her from making any more original discoveries.
  • In 1846, at the age of 96, she was awarded a Gold Medal for Science by the King of Prussia, conveyed to her by Alexander von Humboldt, “in recognition of the valuable services rendered to Astronomy by you, as the fellow-worker of your immortal brother, Sir William Herschel, by discoveries, observations, and laborious calculations”.
  • Caroline Herschel died peacefully in Hanover on 9 January 1848, she was 98 years old.
    • Her tombstone inscription reads, “The eyes of her who is glorified here below turned to the starry heavens.”

Legacy

  • In 1828 the Royal Astronomical Society presented her with their Gold Medal for this work – no woman would be awarded it again until Vera Rubin in 1996.
  • The asteroid 281 Lucretia (discovered 1888) was named after Caroline’s second given name, and the crater C. Herschel on the Moon is named after her.
  • Adrienne Rich’s 1968 poem “Planetarium” celebrates Caroline Herschel’s life and scientific achievements.
  • The artwork The Dinner Party, which celebrates historical women who have made extraordinary contributions, features a place setting for Caroline Herschel.
  • Google honored her with a Google Doodle on her 266th birthday (16 March 2016).
  • The gold medal from the Astronomical Society was awarded to her in 1828 “for her recent reduction, to January, 1800, of the [2,500] Nebula discovered by her illustrious brother, which may be considered as the completion of a series of exertions probably unparalleled either in magnitude or importance in the annals of astronomical labor.”
  • The Royal Astronomical Society elected her an Honorary Member in 1835, along with Mary Somerville; they were the first women members.
  • She was also elected as an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin in 1838.