Sunday, September 29, 2013

History Bitches Fieldtrip #5: Mary Surratt's Boardinghouse and Mount Olivet Cemetery

Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt, c. 1850
This Saturday, my friend George (of Bricktop podcast and Eater DC fame) and I drove out to Mount Olivet Cemetery; I wanted to photograph Mary Surratt’s grave. On July 7, 1865, Mary was bestowed the unlucky distinction of becoming the first woman executed by the U.S. government. She received this “honor” for her reputed participation in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Black Queen

Detail of Allan Ramsay’s
Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1761-1762)
Researching Dido Elizabeth Belle, I stumbled across a tantalizing historical debate regarding Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Charlotte was Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and subsequently Queen of the United Kingdom and Hanover, through her marriage to “mad” King George III. The controversy relates to Charlotte’s heritage and speculations she had black ancestry. Mario de Valdes y Cocom, historian of the African diaspora, is the chief, modern-day proponent of this theory. He contends the German-born Charlotte’s lineage can be traced to Portugal’s King Afonso III and his possibly Moorish lover, Madragana. Valdes y Cocom clarified in The Sunday Times exposé, “Revealed: the Queen's black ancestors”:
Although she is chronologically distant from Afonso III and his mistress, there is a surprising genealogical proximity between the two women and six lines of descent can be traced between them. What also contributed to the perceptibility of her African heritage was the highly inbred pattern of princely German marriage alliances.
There are contemporary references to Charlotte’s African-like features, too; for example, Christian Friedrich, Baron Stockmar wrote she possessed a “true mulatto face.” These characteristics are clearly noticeable in portraits by Allan Ramsay, a prominent abolitionist, and, by marriage, the uncle of Dido Elizabeth Belle.

Can't Hardly Wait!

Amma Asante’s (hooray lady directors!!) feature film “Belle,” about History Bitch Dido Elizabeth Belle recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here are some reviews:

TIFF 2013 Review: 'Belle' Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Belle: Toronto 2013 - first look review

The U.S. release date is May 2, 2014!

Remembering the "Four Little Girls"

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing. The “four little girls” who perished, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, were recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

For more information check-out:

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections

'Four Little Girls' Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Myth of Dido

Dido Elizabeth Belle (L) and half-cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (R).
This picture currently resides at Scone Palace in Perth, Scotland.

Seeing her picture for the first time, I assumed she was a servant. Lucky for us, her status at Kenwood House, London was vastly more remarkable. Her name was Dido Elizabeth Belle, the charge and great-niece of William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield.

Dido’s father was British Navy officer, 
Sir John Lindsay
The year of Dido’s birth is alternately cited as 1761 and 1763. The daughter of rear admiral Sir John Lindsay and a possibly enslaved African woman, she was taken by her father to Kenwood. Kenwood was home to William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield and his wife Lady Elizabeth Finch. As Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, Lord Mansfield presided over numerous cases regarding enslaved Africans. The Murrays had no children and besides fostering Dido, a second great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray resided there, too.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Bitch with the Dragon Tattoo

Fantastic! Just when I’d accepted I could never be as cool as Mary Bowser, Dita Von Teese informs me I’m as not cool as Maud Wagner either. Who the heck is that?

Wait…that’s her? Crap-definitely not as cool!  So, who’s Maud Wagner, and what makes this History Bitch so freaky fresh? Frustratingly, there’s not much information regarding her life. The only facts I could locate come from non-academic sources, so take everything with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock!

Since yesterday was our first day of school, it seemed the perfect time for a post about some of history’s most celebrated women teachers. Just so you know, I refrained from including myself.

Hypatia (350 or 370 – 415 or 416)
A citizen of Alexandria, Egypt, a cultural and educational center of the Roman and Byzantine world, Hypatia was a philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer. Besides directing the Neo-Platonist school of philosophy, she taught and became a popular lecturer. Regrettably, Hypatia is famous not just for being one of the first women to study and teach philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy, but her barbarous death. Accused of spreading heresy and provoking conflict, she was murdered by a swarm of zealous Christians.
Source 1, 2

Monday, September 2, 2013

This Is My Jam!

In 1942, Rosie the Riveter made her debut in Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb's song, "Rosie the Riveter." Check it out below. 

Making History, Working for Victory

Happy Labor Day, Bitches!

Inspired by i09’s post, “SciFi and Fantasy Ladies Pose as Rosie the Riveter for Labor Day,” I decided to write a quick post about the celebrated World War II and feminist icon.

So, here are some of the 5 best facts I discovered about Rosie: