Courtesy of Wikipedia

1172: Alice Guy-Blaché

The First Director and Writer of Narrative Fiction Filmography

Born: 1 July 1873, Paris, France

Died: 24 March 1968, Mahwah, New Jersey, United States of America

Alice was also a special effects innovator and the first known female film director. It is believed that from 1896 to 1906, Alice was the only female film director working in the world.

She is known to have directed and produced around 600 Silent Films over the course of her career. Alice also directed, produced, or supervised around one hundred and fifty sound films for the Gaumont Film Company using Chronophone technology. The films only lasted between one and thirty minutes, so relatively short compared to the blockbusters of today, but for Alice’s time this was remarkable to say the least.

According to the Women Film Pioneers Project (article linked below):

Most notable of her Gaumont period films is La Vie du Christ (1906), a thirty-minute extravaganza that featured twenty-five sets as well as numerous exterior locations and over three hundred extras.

In 1910, while living with her husband in New York, Alice began to produce her own films under the studio name Solax. The films were created on the Gaumont film lot, and distributed through the Gaumont company, but this was still a remarkable achievement to say the least.

Solax flourished as a company for the next two years, allowing Alice, her husband, and their two children to move into a large home in New Jersey. Alice was even able to purchase a $100,000 studio lot for her company, also in New Jersey, in 1912. That same year, Alice also began to distribute her own films on a state-by-state basis throughout the United States.

Alice’s films were revolutionary for their time. She nearly always portrayed married couples as standing on an equal partnership, instead of the husband dominating his wife as was common in both films and culture as a whole at the time. Alice was also known for creating action films that starred female leads.

In 1913, Alice’s husband launched his own studio, and sadly the Solax name slowly faded away. Alice and her husband worked in tandem under the new company name. They continued to create films together—one would direct and the other would produce, flipping back and forth in their roles. The couple also produced and directed for other film companies as well throughout the 1910’s.

The couple separated in 1920, and Alice’s company filed for bankruptcy around that time as well. She spent the next thirty years back in her native France. Alice never made another film, but she did write screenplays and articles for film magazines. She also lectured on all aspects of film. Alice was awarded the Legion of Honor by her native France in 1953. Her autobiography was published posthumously in 1976. Sadly, the vast majority of her films have been lost over time, and most of the credit for her work was given to male colleagues until very recently.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Located In My Personal Library:

Backwards and in Heels: The Past, Present, and Future of Women Working in Film by Alicia Malone

The History of Cinema, a Very Short Introduction by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith


1171: Sammu-Ramat

Empress Regnant of Assyria

Born: c.850 BCE, Ancient Babylon (Present-day Iraq)

Died: c.798 BCE, Ancient Babylon (Present-day Iraq)

Also Known As: Semiramas

Reign: c811-c808 BCE or Possibly c809-c792 BCE

Sammu-Ramat was one of the first known women to rule an empire in world history. Because of this fact, her legacy has been twisted and warped through the following millennia. Today, no one knows much for sure about Sammu-Ramat, and what is known is debated.

Sammu-Ramat served as regent for her son Adad Nirari III until he grew old enough to rule on his own. She assumed the position of regent after her husband, the emperor Shamsi-Adad V died. At the time, a woman ruler anywhere in the world was astonishing, but in Assyria it was completely unprecedented. And yet, Sammu-Ramat’s reign was largely successful, to the point an obelisk was placed and inscribed in her honor in the city of Ashur.

Sammu-Ramat is said to have led military campaigns as well as initiate large-scale building projects during her reign, though this has been disputed by some.

Greek Classical Philosophers renamed her Semiramas, the name she is better known as today, and actually respected her—unlike most women from history. According to World, (article linked below):

This last designation, "Semiramis", has been the source of considerable controversy for over a century now, as scholars and historians argue over whether Sammu-Ramat was the inspiration for the myths concerning Semiramis, whether Sammu-Ramat even ruled Assyria, and whether Semiramis ever existed as an actual historical personage.

The debate has been going on for some time and is not likely to be concluded one way or the other in the near future but, still, it seems possible to suggest the likely possibility that the legends of Semiramis were, in fact, inspired by the reign of queen Sammu-Ramat and have their basis, if not in her actual deeds, then at least in the impression she made upon the people of her time.

Badges Earned:

Located In My Personal Library:

National Geographic History Article “Genesis of an Assyrian Legend, Searching for Semiramas” September/October 2017 Edition

The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser

When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney


Courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

“The most important thing is that we give them their dignity back.”

1170: Dr. Ruth Pfau

German-born Nun and Medical Missionary

Born: 9 September 1929, Leipzig, Germany

Died: 10 August 2017, Karachi, Pakistan

Dr. Pfau was an advocate for Lepers in Pakistan, but oddly enough, she was never supposed to stay in Pakistan in the first place.

In 1960, Dr. Pfau’s Catholic Order had sent her to India, however, certain visa issues forced her to stay in Pakistan for a few weeks. While there, Dr. Pfau encountered leprosy patients who encouraged her to stick around. She would continue to work in Pakistan for the next fifty-seven years.

When she first arrived in Pakistan in 1960, there was one center for leprosy patients in the entire country. By 1996, the World Health Organization announced leprosy was ‘under control’ in Pakistan. By the time Dr. Pfau died, there were 157 centers for leprosy patients. The centers also focus on blindness, tuberculosis, and other diseases caused by land mines and have treated over 50,000 patients.

Quoted from the Catholic News Agency, “By 2016, the number of patients under treatment for leprosy in Pakistan had fallen to 531, down from 19,398 in the 1980s, according to the Karachi daily Dawn.”

Dr. Pfau was a member of the Society of Daughters of the Hearts of Mary. She joined the order after attending medical school in Eastern Germany in 1957 (or Western, sources differ). Her childhood home was bombed during World War II. Dr. Pfau was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988, and in 2002 she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which has been called the Asian Nobel Prize.

Because of her influence on Pakistan and her people, Dr. Pfau was granted a state funeral by the prime minister.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked


Courtesy of The Telegraph

1169: Hessy Levinsons Taft

Jewish Woman Whose Baby Portrait was Used by the Nazis in Propaganda Work

Born: 17 May 1934, Berlin, Germany

Hessy’s parents were from Latvia but had moved to Germany a few years before Hessy was born. Her parents had dreams of being opera singers, but unfortunately once it was discovered that the couple were Jewish, they were shunned from the music industry.

In 1935, Hessy was an adorable little baby and her family decided to have her photo taken by a professional photographer. A few months later, the family housekeeper noticed Hessy’s picture on the cover of the popular German magazine “Sonne ins Haus.” Evidently, Hessy’s photo had been chosen out of a hundred baby pictures from all across Germany, that had been captured by professional photographers.

The best part though? The contest had been created by Joseph Goebbel’s Propaganda Wing of the Nazi government. The premise of the contest was to show the “ideal” Aryan German baby. That’s right—an adorable little Jewish girl was now being broadcast across Germany, and eventually as far away as Lithuania, as the perfect Aryan baby. The photographer who took her picture had known Hessy was Jewish. He submitted the photo anyway because he wanted to allow himself the pleasure of the joke.

Oh sweet sweet irony, how we love you so.

While it was great of the photographic to pull such a great joke on the Nazis, he unfortunately also left Hessy in danger. Her face was the most famous baby picture, arguably in all of Germany, and so her parents could no longer take her out of the apartment and out into public. If she had been recognized, and her Jewish ancestry came out, she would have been killed.

Hessy’s family moved to France in 1938, and in 1941 escaped France through various spots in Europe, eventually making their way to Cuba. Finally in 1949, the family settled for good in the United States, despite the fact they were committed Zionists.

Hessy married in 1959 and has two children and four grandchildren. She studied chemistry at Barnard College and is a part time Chemistry teacher at St. Johns University. While Hessy’s immediate family survived the war, unfortunately large parts of her extended family in Latvia were murdered during the Shoah.

Hessy donated her copy of the magazine “Sonne ins Haus” with her photo to Yad Vashem’s collection entitled “Gathering the Fragments” which has gathered over 120,000 items from the Nazi period, to showcase all aspects of Jewish life and how people survived that time.


Courtesy of Coastal Courier

1168: First Lieutenant Rachel Washburn

Gave up Being a Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader to Join the United States Army

Born: c. 1988, Unknown (Probably somewhere in the United States)

As a child, Rachel was an army brat, meaning her father served in the armed forces. Rachel herself moved at least twelve times in her formative years, all across the country.

Rachel served two tours in Afghanistan as a member of the United States Army. She served from 2010 to 2016 and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant.

Rachel previously worked as an NFL cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2007 to 2010. She attended Drexel University through an ROTC scholarship in order to earn a bachelor’s degree in history.

She went to Iraq on a USO Tour while in college as a part of the Eagles Cheerleading Team. While there, Rachel realized her true passion lay not in cheerleading, but rather serving her country in the armed forces.

Rachel was a part of a special squad to relate to local Afghan women in a way male troops could not, called the Cultural Support Team. While serving in Afghanistan, Rachel helped deliver a baby in the middle of a snowstorm with help from Army Medical via a radio.

She later also trained in intelligence and paratrooper training and left the army in 2016. During her time in the service, Rachel received the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat, Airborne and Air Assault Badges (according to the Philadelphia Eagles website). Rachel then began working for Academy Securities as of 2017.

According to her Military Wiki article, in 2019, Rachel married a fellow soldier. Very little other information is readily available for her online, and most articles are from 2013 when she first joined the army. Rachel’s Instagram account also pulls up as a result on Google, but she has not updated or posted on the account in a very long time.


Courtesy of Wikipedia

1167: Nellie Tayloe Ross

The First Female Governor to be Inaugurated in the United States

Born: 29 November 1876, St. Joseph, Missouri, United States of America

Died: 19 December 1977, Washington DC, United States of America

Nellie was the fourteenth governor of Wyoming (and obviously the first woman to serve in such a capacity). She was also the first female Director of the United States Mint for twenty years, from 1933 to 1953, and served as Vice President of the Democratic National Convention.

Nellie was educated in private and public schools in her formative years. She originally lived with her family on a farm in Missouri, but when hard times hit the family moved to Kansas, where her father owned a grocery store. When Nellie was thirteen, her mother died.

After graduation, Nellie worked as a kindergarten teacher for the Omaha public school district. Her various life experiences growing up with her father and then as a teacher were preparing her for a life in government and politics, she just didn’t know it yet.

In 1902, Nellie married a young lawyer named William Ross, who also had political ambitions of his own as a populist democrat. The couple would have four sons, though one died when he was only ten months old.

Nellie began her political career as First Lady of Wyoming when her husband was governor. She also acted as an advisor to him but was constantly stressed over money. The governor’s salary was $6,000 a year, and yet Nellie’s husband kept borrowing money in order to keep up appearances and live a far more lavish lifestyle than they could afford.

When Nellie’s husband died partway through his term as governor, Nellie was left with a choice: either run in the race as the Democrat candidate to finish her husband’s term, or step aside and try to find some other way to support her sons and pay off her husband’s debt. Forty-five minutes before the deadline, Nellie finally accepted the Democrat nomination to run for governor.

Nellie easily won the election, with 8,000 more votes in her favor than her Republican opponent (and only 79,000 votes were cast in total!). Nellie had officially become the first female governor, not just in Wyoming, but in the entire United States (although it should be noted that Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was inaugurated as governor of Texas only fifteen or sixteen days later [sources differ on the number of days]).

According to Wyoming History (article linked below), “It was a tough time to take office. Drought, farm and ranch failures and especially bank failures were spreading hardship across the state. Many people lost their property and their life savings. The oil boom was leveling off. Deadly mine explosions in western Wyoming at Kemmerer in 1923 killed 100 miners, and reminded the state that coal mining remained as dangerous as ever.”

Unfortunately, Nellie was a Democrat trying to keep her head up in a sea of Republicans, and so she did not manage to get as much accomplished in her term as she had hoped. Of the eleven reforms Nellie had wanted to get passed through the state legislature, only five succeeded. Despite these setbacks, Nellie was famous across the country. She rode in President Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural parade, as well as giving a speech before the Women’s National Democratic Club.

Nellie continued to travel, to Chicago, Maine, and more. She gave speeches and discussed various issues, including water rights for western states. Newspaper accounts praised her successes, as well as showing their confusion and surprise that a woman politician was doing so well at her job.

In 1926, Nellie ran for re-election. Newspapers were vicious in their coverage of her. To some, she had not done enough to lower taxes or do anything worthwhile to help the people of Wyoming. To others, Nellie had betrayed her gender by not hiring any women to fill positions previously held by men in the government. It was a lose-lose situation, and Nellie could not make anyone happy (other than her close circle of supporters). Nellie, never one to just lie down and quit, drove all over the state in a jam-packed schedule, campaigning and giving as many speeches as she could.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and Nellie lost. Republicans took all five of the highest seats in the Wyoming state government. Nellie’s race was the closest of the bunch—she lost by just over 1,000 of the 70,000 votes cast.

After losing the election, Nellie continued to travel across the United States, campaigning for various other Democrats. It was also during this time that she became director of the US Mint and worked for the Democratic National Convention.

When Nellie retired in 1953, she was finally rich thanks to various real estate investments, and had plenty of time to travel and play with her grandchildren. Nellie lived to be one hundred and one years old. She was born during the Presidency of Ulysses S Grant and died during the Jimmy Carter administration. The country changed in a multitude of ways during her lifetime, and Nellie made her mark on history to say the least.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Located In My Personal Library:

Roses of the West by Anna Seagraves

No Place for a Woman: The Struggle for Suffrage in the Wild West by Chris Enss

America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins

A Fun Update...(June 2021):

In late June of 2021, my mother and I took a road trip around some of the closer states to where we live. Along that journey, we were able to stop at the Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne, WY, where Nellie and her husband are laid to rest for all eternity, and I was able to snap this photo while we were there.

nellie ross grave
Courtesy of the Rose Tree Museum

1166: Ethel Robertson Macia

The First Lady of Tombstone, Arizona

Born: 16 August 1881, Tombstone, Arizona Territory, USA (Present-day Tombstone, Arizona, United States of America)

Died: 6 August 1964, Tombstone, Arizona, United States of America

Ethel was the oldest of five children. Sadly, her mother died when Ethel was fourteen, soon after giving birth to Ethel’s youngest sibling Olive. Four years later, Ethel’s father died, leaving Ethel in charge of her younger siblings. She had attended one year of college at the University of Arizona but had to drop out after her father’s murder.

Sadly, Ethel and all of her siblings were technically underage, and so they became wards of the state. Ethel and her sister were put to work to help support the family in any way they could. Because of their neat and legible handwriting, Ethel and sister Edith became the first women employed at the Cochise County Courthouse, in Cochise County, Arizona.

A few years later, when Ethel was twenty-one, she was officially made the head of household over her younger brothers and sisters. The following year, Ethel married a man who worked for one of Tombstone’s mining companies. The couple would have three children together.

Ethel and her husband purchased the Arcade Hotel in Tombstone, which quickly became one of the most sought-after attractions in the city. A white rose bush (specifically of the Lady Banksia variety) had been planted at the hotel in 1885, and by 1936 Ripley’s Believe it Or Not claimed the bush was the world’s largest rose tree. Ethel renamed the hotel the Rose Tree Inn to celebrate the beautiful blooms she had surrounding the building. The rose tree is still growing as of 2022.

Ethel was very active in the community and was dubbed the First Lady of Tombstone thanks to her work with various organizations and charities. She was also an avid historian of the Tombstone area and was dubbed the Queen of Helldorado in 1953 after helping create the annual Helldorado festival in 1929.

In 2021, the Lady Banksia Daughters of the American Revolution chapter was organized in Tombstone and was named for the rose bush planted at Ethel’s hotel.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked


Courtesy of Kelly Barnhill (WordPress Site)

1165: Urraca of Zamora

Infanta of Zamora

Born: c.1033, Present-day León, Spain

Died: c.1101, Present-day León, Spain

Urraca was one of five siblings who split their father (Ferdinand the Great)’s empire after his death. Urraca was bequeathed the city of Zamora and ruled with palatine authority over the walled city.

Urraca’s eldest brother tried to take over their father’s entire empire, but Urraca stood up to him and allegedly killed him before going back to her castle and ruling peacefully for the rest of her life; possibly retiring to a convent near the end.

And that’s about all that is known of Urraca, which isn’t surprising given that she lived right around a thousand years ago.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked


Courtesy of Wikipedia

1164: Elizabeth Tabor

One of The Most Dramatic Rags to Riches Then Back to Rags Story

Born: 1854 (Exact date is in dispute), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States of America

Died: 5 March 1935, Leadville, Colorado, United States of America

Also Known As: Baby Doe Tabor or The Silver Queen of Colorado

Elizabeth was born fifth of fourteen children into sort-of middle class in an Irish-Catholic family. Her father owned a clothing store that catered specifically to the local lumber workers, however, several fires burned down his store in quick succession and depleted what wealth the family had. Elizabeth’s mother refused to let her do hard labor in order to preserve her beauty and hopefully marry a wealthy husband.

Her first husband was named William Doe, hence her nickname, Baby Doe. Together they moved to Colorado in order to oversee the Doe Family’s mining investments. Despite the rough and tumble nature of the Old West, Baby Doe thrived in her new environment. Elizabeth’s marriage to William lasted only three years, and she filed for divorce in 1880.

She next married silver mining baron Horace Tabor, with whom she would have three children. Technically when the pair wed in 1882, Elizabeth’s divorce had yet to be publicly recorded, and Horace’s divorce from his first wife Augusta was still in the process of being finalized. This meant Elizabeth and Horace were technically bigamists, but they loved each other dearly. Unfortunately, the fact that Horace was one of the wealthiest men in the country also meant the scandal of his divorce and remarriage to a woman half his age (Elizabeth was twenty-five and he forty-nine when they met) would damage both of their reputations for the rest of their lives. Sadly, Elizabeth and Horace’s son would die soon after birth, but their two daughters survived to adulthood (named Elizabeth Bonduel Lily Tabor and Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar Tabor respectively).

The next few years were wealthy and prosperous for the Tabor family. Elizabeth worked with the Colorado Women’s Suffrage movement while Horace oversaw the mines.

The Tabors lost their money thanks to the repeal of Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which led to the Panic of 1893. The family watched all of their vast fortune disappear in a puff of smoke, but Elizabeth refused to give up. She spent the next few years overseeing the family’s business dealings in Denver while Horace worked as a muckraker in one of the mines before becoming the postmaster in Denver in 1898.

Horace died destitute not long after, in 1899, leaving Elizabeth alone to raise their daughters.

Elizabeth spent the last thirty years of her life living in a shack besides the Matchless Mine (which used to be owned by her husband). Debates rage as to whether or not she believed the mine would be prosperous again or not. Elizabeth most likely worked odd jobs here and there and sold artifacts from her past life in order to earn enough money to keep the family going.

Elizabeth’s youngest daughter (Silver Dollar) was found scalded to death in Chicago, either the victim of suicide, a bizarre accident, or murder—depending on which account you believe. Her oldest daughter (Lily) refused to be known as Baby Doe’s daughter and moved to Wisconsin to get away from the drama and scandal her parents had created. Neither girl had children, and so Elizabeth and Horace’s family line died with the girls.

Elizabeth was eventually found frozen to death in her cabin. She had spent the last years of her life living off scraps of bread, writing extensively in her journals the dreams, visions, and memories she had trapped in her head. Some of those writings have survived until today.

Elizabeth was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Located In My Personal Library:

Augusta Tabor: Her Side of the Scandal by Caroline Bancroft

Haunted West: Legendary Tales From the Frontier (Magazine Published by Centennial Today, Fall 2020)

No Place for a Woman: The Struggle for Suffrage in the Wild West by Chris Enss

Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

Silver Queen: The Fabulous Story of Baby Doe Tabor by Caroline Bancroft

A Fun Update...(June 2021):

In late June of 2021, my mother and I took a road trip around some of the closer states to where we live. Along that journey, we were able to stop at the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where Elizabeth and her husband Horace are laid to rest for all eternity, and I was able to snap this photo while we were there.

Elizabeth Tabor Grave
Courtesy of All That's Interesting

“It’s got to be blue and it’s got to be new! I never bought anything used—except husbands!”

1163: Bessie Stringfield

First African American Woman to Motorcycle Drive Across the United States Solo (in 1930)

Born: c.1911, Kingston, Jamaica*

Died: 16 February 1993, Opa-locka, Florida, United States of America

Bessie was dubbed the “Motorcycle Queen of Miami.”

Bessie was orphaned at the age of five soon after her family moved to the United States. Her parents died of smallpox, but luckily soon after Bessie was adopted by a Catholic family (although it should be noted in some accounts that Bessie’s father didn’t die—instead he just abandoned his family). Bessie also had at least two sisters but probably had more siblings, full and half, that have not been identified in any of the sources.

Bessie was given her first motorcycle at the age of sixteen (a 1928 Indian Scout--though she would soon switch to Harley Davidson) and spent the next several years earning money by performing tricks at various carnivals. Because she was of African descent, Bessie was often denied sleeping accommodations in hotels or hostels, and often had to sleep on her bike at gas stations.

She was a Motorcycle Dispatch Rider for the United States Army in World War II, though she technically worked as a civilian. Bessie was the only woman in her unit and encountered even more racial prejudice while on the road. One time, a man driving a pickup truck went so far as to drive her off the road, knocking her to the ground.

During the 1930s and 1940s, she made eight solo long-distance rides across the United States. She traversed all of the lower forty-eight states on her bike throughout the years.

After the war, Bessie earned her LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) certificate and founded a motorcycle club. One time, Bessie won a flat track race and was then denied the prize money after she removed her helmet and the race organizers realized she was a woman.

Bessie was posthumously inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002. She passed away from complications of an enlarged heart. According to Blackpast, she had been married and divorced six times throughout her life and suffered the loss of three children with her first husband. She owned twenty-seven motorcycles throughout her life (per Rejected Princesses).

*Some sources state her birthplace as North Carolina, however an official biography written on Bessie by a woman who knew her before she died states Bessie was born in Kingston, Jamaica, so that is the birthplace I have chosen to list here. However, it should be noted that The New York Times states her birthplace was North Carolina, and that Bessie lied and said she was born in Jamaica in order to make her life story a little more outrageous.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Rejected Princess