Anonymous no more

By Toni Kief


By: Toni Kief


For most of history​​ anonymous​​ was a woman​​ - Virginia​​ Wolfe.​​ 

History has been​​ remiss​​ in honoring women. ​​ If men were​​ changing​​ history, it​​ can​​ be​​ guaranteed the delicate sex was​​ also there. ​​ So many names and​​ triumphs​​ have​​ vanished​​ to the​​ Mrs. ​​  ​​​​ 

Sofonisba​​ Anguissola​​ was​​ one​​ of the first women, to be allowed art lessons, only because her father was an artist. ​​ A​​ 16th-century portraitist,​​ she​​ was​​ praised for her​​ detail, warm​​ colors,​​ and expressive eyes. Michelangelo sent his drawings​​ to her for critique and copying. ​​ She was artistically​​ anonymous.

Right after the Mayflower dropped anchor in​​ Chesapeake Bay,​​ Susanna White bore a child. ​​ Her husband William White died​​ in the first year. ​​ Susanna was alone with a toddler and a newborn at the Plymouth colony. ​​ She wed Edward Winslow months later and​​ was​​ one of​​ only​​ four adult​​ women who survived​​ to the first​​ Thanksgiving. ​​ Her​​ early history​​ has been lost and her​​ personal​​ story of survival absorbed into myth. ​​ History knows of​​ her husbands, but not of Susanna. ​​ She was​​ nuptially​​ anonymous.

In 1647, Margaret Brent of Maryland colony​​ was able to vote​​ as​​ a property owner. ​​ She voted​​ twice, the​​ second time for​​ Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore.​​ Shortly​​ thereafter,​​ the governor decided​​ it was an oversight and​​ women​​ would not​​ regain​​ the​​ privilege​​ until 128years later. ​​​​ Disenfranchised anonymous.

Sybil​​ Ludington​​ rode the same night as Paul Revere. She was 15,​​ traveled twice as far,​​ fought off​​ bandits​​ and​​ didn’t fall​​ from​​ her horse. ​​ She was able to​​ muster the troops in time​​ to face the British. ​​ Since her name didn’t rhyme, Revere​​ is​​ singularly​​ credited.​​ Independently anonymous. ​​ 

Women and wives were never strangers to the battlefield.​​ ​​ Mary Ludwig Hays was at the​​ Battle of Monmouth;​​ she​​ carried pitchers of water to​​ the​​ soldiers. ​​ When​​ her husband collapsed, she took​​ over the cannon.​​ ​​ She was one of the​​ many women who became​​ Molly Pitcher. ​​ Even​​ Martha Washington​​ traveled with the Revolutionary army. Every battle George was in, she was there. ​​ Washing clothes and preparing food. ​​ Would we know her name if she wasn’t our​​ original -​​ first lady? ​​ Anonymous under fire.​​ 

Catherine Littlefield​​ Greene did the initial design​​ and​​ with the help of​​ a​​ plantation slave, whose name has disappeared,​​ and​​ a​​ handyman, Eli Whitney,​​ they​​ developed the cotton gin. ​​ She financed the​​ production and registration​​ but because women weren’t allowed to hold patents,​​ Eli is honored​​ in classrooms​​ today,​​ and no one​​ discusses​​ Catherine​​ or the slave’s involvement. ​​ Innovatively​​ anonymous. ​​ 

Annie Jump Cannon​​ was​​ the curator of astronomical photographs at Harvard Observatory. She​​ was​​ astoundingly​​ efficient​​ and was able to classify up to three stars a minute​​ and​​ Cannon cataloged several hundred thousand stars to the 11th magnitude. She discovered 300 variable stars, in addition to 5 novae.​​ Astronomically​​ anonymous. ​​ 

Born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867, the daughter of a secondary-school teacher. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father.​​ Would we remember Marie Curie if​​ ​​ Pierre​​ had​​ not​​ complained when her name was left off of the​​ first​​ Nobel Prize nomination?​​ She received a half prize for physics in 1903 with Pierre, ​​ and 1911 a solo prize in Chemistry. Impossible to ignore​​ but radio-active.

The first US Congress met in 1789.  ​​​​ One hundred and​​ twenty-eight​​ years later,​​ Janette Rankin was the first woman to represent over half of the​​ US​​ population. ​​ She was elected 3 years before she could vote.​​ Women still have not reached parity, but they are working on it. ​​ Unequally anonymous, but changing the rules.

Margaret Knight​​ was one of the most prolific​​ inventors​​ of the 20th​​ century. ​​ She started at​​ 12 with a​​ stop action​​ device for​​ industrial​​ looms. ​​ One of the machinists​​ she​​ hired​​ to complete her​​ prototype for​​ the flat bottom​​ paper bag machine​​ submitted her design for a patent.​​ After a bitter court​​ battle,​​ she was able to obtain her first patent,​​ followed by​​ 87 more. She​​ improved shoe​​ manufacturing, window frames,​​ the spit for skewering meat,​​ and​​ improvement of​​ the rotary engine. ​​ Anonymous by​​ imagination.

The moral of the​​ story-ladies​​ all together-anonymous no more! ​​​​ 

About The Author

Toni Kief, a child of the 60s, Midwestern by birth, Northwestern by choice, Toni challenges the boundaries for women of a certain age. After a long career as an insurance adjuster, she fell into writing through a challenge from a friend. She has released her first book, Old Baggage, with two others in the grinder. Toni never dated Mick Jagger, but marched for civil rights, shared bread with icons of politics and art. She is spending her retirement, gathering stories prime for embellishment. Writing has taught her inspiration without perspiration is just a good idea.