I was listening to Insight Timer, one evening, several weeks ago and decided to have a story read to me so that I could go to sleep. Generally, I put the volume down, very low, and I drift off into slumber land. I choose the tales of young girls or older women whether old fables or new ones. On this particular evening, I saw the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I had not heard this story in a very long time and so I decided to listen. I also liked the name of the reader “Glenda Cedarleaf,” which sounded like a nice fairy tale name. Glenda is the good witch from the Wizard of Oz and leaves from a cedar tree sounded equally comforting to me. I did not turn the volume down though. Instead, I decided to turn it up and listen to the entire story. Within moments, I realized why. The story she had condensed and revised suddenly had me thinking of all the symbols and what they might mean. I knew immediately that this was a story about a narcissistic mother (queen) and her vulnerable little daughter who became her scapegoat (Snow White). I decided to contact Glenda for the story so that I could do an interpretation here for you. Thankfully, she was more than happy to allow me to do this and now I will present my thoughts here for you today.
A victim of domestic violence has a lot of anger inside toward the perpetrator. Before I escaped my ex-husband I attempted suicide because I did not know that I could escape his prison. I did not know I had choices. I could walk away, although it wasn’t easy, or I could just sit there and not take any control over my life or my son’s.
There were many times when I thought about attempting suicide and there are many things that I wrote, much of which makes no sense now, during those brief periods of depression. My writing helped me to think things through. Consequently I have many journals that I will probably burn some day.
“As a parent, I have often wondered what it would be like to raise a child.” Here I sit, 15 years later – still without my son.
My parents said they had wanted to help, “Don’t worry about anything daughter,” my dad told me, “You just take care of yourself. We will take care of the baby.”
My social worker told me “You have a choice between foster homes or a relative. In a foster home, you will never have a chance to get your son back, because he will just get lost in red tape.”
I am a huge fan of the Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones (1943). In fact, that movie changed my life spiritually. More recently, I read the non-fiction by Franz Werfel and this moved me even more – his story was included; another miracle from the Lady of Lourdes. I am also a psychotherapist for a living and if a movie is made correctly, I can figure it out from the get go. If you have ever watched the Poirot series by Agatha Christie, recall the scene where he is watching a play with his side kick, Inspector Hastings. Poirot is telling Hastings what will happen but it doesn’t and he is confused why it was written that way. That is me in a nutshell. This was written correctly (spoiler alert!) but the ending was way over the top and unnecessary. It was almost like an American film where they have to make everyone feel good. The ending closed up character plot lines but this could have been done in a dialogue – perhaps with his wife. She needed her husband back!
A memoir published but now archived from 2002. It is about domestic violence, abuse and the loss of a child.
As someone who has been through trauma and survived it, I find this form of treatment [Cognitive Processing Therapy or CPT] to be the best and most healing of those that are out there for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This is a way of being involved in the treatment process – directly. It is a technique that helps one to look at their beliefs, through the help of a psychotherapist and re-examine them in a non-traumatic setting. It is not re-traumatizing (but your symptoms can elevate at first) and you are doing all the work. There are other techniques for working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you should find the one that fits best for you.
I have put off writing about Annie Oakley (born August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926 Leo/Artemis) for some time now because I wanted to feature other Ohio Women in History that most people did not know about. Annie was one of the first superstars or famous actresses of her time. I read about her in a short biography by Chuck Wills for DK Biographies, so that it is more of a children’s reader. I’d love to find something more about her life but it appears that this was not her priority until after retirement and writing just wasn’t in her. She was only able to pen a few pages. Also, being a celebrity, more fiction was written about her than non-fiction.
Thank you to everyone who came out and supported Ohio Women’s History Project this year at the conference! If you wished to have a receipt, don’t forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your name and how many shirts or prints that you paid for and I can send this back to you. If you still wanted to purchase a shirt, you can click on the store at the top of this page.
Ohio Local History Alliance held an amazing conference and I think we all learned a great deal from these presentations. We now have good ideas about how to take our museums, non-profits and new businesses forward in the years ahead. Below are some of the workshops I attended and information that I learned. I have included some links so that you might be able to research this more on your own.
The first workshop that I attended was given by Megan Woods, Cultural Resources
Division Director at the Ohio History Connection. Her workshop was “Ohio Women’s Suffrage Centennial.” Megan discussed how to be included on their event page on the Ohio Suffrage Centennial website. The Ohio Suffrage Centennial Commission was passed on May 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine. There is currently a travelling exhibit of banners and a trading card project going on in Northwest Ohio by the Trumbull County Historical Society. There are also book discussion groups and you can get a list of books to read for your own groups through the Ohio League of Women Voters. In August of 2020 there will be a huge celebration that is in the planning stages at this time. Akron is working on a statue to honor Sojourner Truth. Case Western Reserve is hoping to get a play produced entitled the “Taming of the Anti.” All these and more can be found on their website above.
She spoke about three women in particular from Ohio, Harriett Taylor Upton who started in Ravenna and ended up in Warren. She brought the National Women’s Suffrage Association to Warren. She became the Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee and was a part of the D.A.R. (Daughter’s of the American Revolution).
She also shared about Florence Allen who was the first female judge in Ohio but began her career first as a musician and journalist. She had left Ohio for New York to study law and then returned to eventually receive a nomination to the Ohio Supreme Court. Later she would be nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Federal Supreme Court. Florence also wrote several books about the law.
The third woman was Haley Quinn Brown who was a black woman that eventually came to Wilberforce, Ohio. She was the Dean of Tuskeegee Institute, an International Public Speaker and the President of the Colored Women’s League. She was very involved in the temperance movement as well.
We listened to various people in the audience talk about their projects. One of which is that the Girl Scouts of Ohio are working on a badge to commemorate being a good citizen and learning about the voting process.
I then attended a Grant Management Basics workshop with Jennifer Souers-Chevraux who is the owner of Illumine Creative Solutions, LLC. Jennifer taught us about ways to be organized in a fashion that would help guarantee success with the grant already received. She also gave us several non-profit organizations to help with your business.
Tracy Lawson, the author of a historical book entitled “Pride of the Valley,” engaged
with Mt. Healthy school in Springfield, to help kids become interested in their ancestry through family trees. Two young ladies came to report on their findings. These future female historians were Savannah Homa and Keilah Israel. There were a total of eight boys and girls involved in this project.
These young girls were very bright and had amazing insight into what they had discovered on this project. I was very impressed with their advanced level of thinking.
At lunch time, on Friday, we listened to Nekole Alligood from the Delaware Nation speak on re-patriating native American remains that might be found in a family member’s home. There is an organization called NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) which handles this type of service in a culturally appropriate way so as to bring peace to the departed. When such an event occurs it needs to be a sacred event with no press invited to the ceremony. Nekole also made us aware of the fact that there are 44 federally recognized tribes that stem from Ohio. I wondered how many there were that were not recognized. We also learned that native American’s were not recognized or given U.S. citizenship until 1924. Even today, the issue of young women kidnapped from reservations, (which are often isolated locations with people living far from others) for purposes of human trafficking. The issue of rape was brought up many years ago in an article written for Amnesty International that I recall reading. I believe this took place in Alaska. It is interesting to note that girls are kidnapped from reservations but not outside of the reservation (i.e., non-natives). This is a huge concern because the reservations are meant to be protected lands – so why are the people on them not protected?
Another workshop I attended was on the “Women of King Records.” King Records was a recording studio, manufacturer and shipping warehouse run by Syd Nathan between 1943-1971, in the Cincinnati area. Christine Anderson, a professor from Xavier University in Cincinnati and Sue Plummer an Ohio History Service Corps Alumni, have been conducting research to uncover the women who produced music during that time. They shared a spreadsheet with their findings which held 2,054 recordings of various genres including hillbilly, Doo-Wop, funk and soul. They gave us access to this spreadsheet which includes links to YouTube videos if they were available. I am not sure whether or not it is acceptable to share this link so I will keep that to myself. You can however access this website which appears to be linked to Xavier University.
As you can imagined I had a wonderful time at this conference but I feel safe in saying most people seemed to be having a good time. There were smiles on these eager faces, as they walked about and the people I talked with all agreed that they enjoyed attending.
Remember #olhaempowers to follow on Instagram or Twitter.
This time I am not giving you an account of an Ohio Woman in History but a female writer from Ohio who writes children’s books. I chose her book, “Uprising” which is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire which occurred on March 25, 1911. This tragedy occurred in New York and claimed the lives of 146 people (123 women and 23 men). The majority of the victims were between the ages of 14-23 years old. Ms. Haddix chose to do a historical fiction to discuss this terrible incident by focusing her story around three women who might have been involved. She carefully researched her book in great detail (which she tells you in an author’s note at the end).
This included a strike that occurred between the months of 1909-1910. This strike demanded many things, hoping to make working conditions fairer and safer. The union caved too quickly and did not even secure a “closed” shop which would have meant that Triangle could not hire non-union workers. Shortly after sending the strikers back to work, the “promises” quickly faded. It is odd that the union wasn’t called to the mat in court, as well as the owners of Triangle Shirtwaist Company, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris. Had the union succeeded in securing rights for the worker’s this horrible event would not have happened.
The story which unfolds is beautifully told. Ms. Haddix breaks the story up by the three girl’s names, so that we hear each of their voices. One is a Russian Jew, Yetta; then there is Bella an Italian that had recently arrived and finally there is Jane, a wealthy young American woman ripe on the heels of the suffragist’s movement. At first none of them even know each other but through various events are brought together. At the end, only one of them will survive and this is not a secret as you are told this at the beginning of the book. And, like with “The Nightingale,” by Kristen Hannah (another historical novel but about German occupied France) the ending is a surprise.
The story has romance, it is of course ripe with suspense and the characters all have self-reflection. In the end, the writer tells us how she knows what happened to the other two characters. This is Ms. Haddix’s way of answering all of the reader’s questions. The most significant is “How could she possibly know.”
Naturally, I knew about this piece of history and as it happened, it came up at least twice, prior to reading this, while I was judging National History Day. Since I had purchased the book a year prior, at Ohioana, I knew I needed to sit down and pour over the pages which were now begging to be read. While reading this book, another issue kept gnawing at me that always has since our factories were signed over to China under the Clinton regime. What a waste! For years since the trade agreement was signed and our small towns (quite a few in Ohio, including Middletown which you read about in “Hillbilly Elegy” by another Ohioan, J.D. Vance) have been turned into meth labs and are screaming for answers to bring back a dwindling economy stolen from them 20+ years ago. All the work that these men and women went through, several decades ago, to create: fair wage laws, equal employment, age limits and humane working conditions; completely lost by the stroke of a President’s hand. Now, American factories are in communist countries, third world environments that have none of these rights at hand.
When I read this book and I hope many of you will as well, I think particularly of 146 workers who died in vain. What would Yetta think if she saw that what the striker’s worked for only became a temporary fix? What has happened to unions that were there to protect the worker’s jobs? I keep wondering if the unions had caved just like they did at the end of the shirtwaist worker’s strike. Max and Isaac, the owners of Triangle Shirtwaist Company are just two CEO’s not unlike those of our big corporations today. These multimillion dollar companies, today, are no more interested in their employees or even their customers. Perhaps we have better laws now to protect employees from a fire breaking out in a building but there are just different issues at hand in this generation. As I am a therapist in my day job, I often hear employees talking about how 1. They can’t talk to Human Resources anymore because they are in another country or state (different time zones). 2. They are expected to work off the clock (or on salary) and take text messages and phone calls 24/7 in some cases. That is to say, whenever the boss has a question. Meanwhile, as a customer, when was the last time you called a corporation and actually spoke to a receptionist? Likewise, how often did you get the right person on the phone or had to call back several times. How long was it between the time you first called the company, till the time you got your answer?
Serious questions that politicians always fight about to get votes but never really solve.
Mildred Wirt Benson (aka Carolyn Keene, Alice B. Emerson, Frances K. Judd, Joan Clark, Mildred A. Wirt, and Ann Wirt) lived 96 years (July 10, 1905 – May 28, 2002, Cancer/Hera) and wrote 79 books, including the first 23 in the Nancy Drew series. She was married twice, the first husband Asa Wirt, brought her to Cleveland and this is where the Nancy Drew series began. Several years after Asa died, she met the editor of the Toledo Blade, George Benson, where she had begun to work as a journalist.
Growing up in Ohio, the books for teens to read in the 1970’s included the Nancy Drew series. They were either a Christmas or birthday present, I don’t know which but I devoured them. This series showed an independent young woman solving mysteries. Her dad respected her. Her friends looked up to her and she was beautiful and smart. It was as if there was nothing she couldn’t do.
What I did not know is that Nancy Drew was conceived of in 1929, the outline was created by a man, Edward Stratemeyer. This was a man who made his fortunes creating “dime store” novels with ghostwriters who took on various nom de plumes that he thought up as well. Nancy Drew was first released in 1930, at the beginning of the Depression but because they sold for 50 cents apiece and even during these bleak times, people found a way to get two quarters. Entertainment was what helped people get through these dark years. It gave them hope, something to dream about. Post World War I, women were beginning to have careers, living on their own and making their own decisions (rebelling against parent’s wishes).
Mildred, was a lot like Nancy Drew. She was born and raised in Ladora, Iowa and as a young woman went right to college, in 1922, without even considering a husband. Her parents were not pushing this either. Mom might have wished she wouldn’t leave though and wrote this really touching poem to her daughter.
So now your room is silent.
The whole house seems silent too;
Every object which confronts me
Seems incomplete without you.
Yes, your silent room, it haunts me
Every garment left behind
Have memories from which bring a tear
For the loved one I cannot find.
Lillian Augustine, “Mildred’s Room.”
In college, Mildred became a member and excelled on the swim team. Having already begun to write and win contests she majored in journalism. Naturally, she joined her colleagues and became a part of what is still the top college newspaper entitled “Daily Iowan.” This newspaper was the springboard for her future success with other papers and books. Mildred’s parents respected her lifestyle, just as Carson Drew respected Nancy. Being raised by parents who respect their daughter, this lead her to find partners who looked up to her and respected her as well. Again, a lot like Ned Nickerson, Nancy Drew’s boyfriend, both nurtured her profession and supported her achievements. Mildred did other odd feats for women at the time, also like Nancy Drew. She became an accomplished pilot too but not until she was in her fifties. Like Nancy Drew she had so much energy to burn and couldn’t sit still and be idle. Whenever obstacles hit her, she got involved in a hobby or book series and threw her attention into this.
The book I read was “Missing Millie Benson,” by Julie K. Rubini (2015, Ohio University Press) which is actually written for young readers – apropos to this woman’s life. Mildred had a daughter, Peggy Wirt and Ms. Rubini mentioned they had a challenging relationship. I notice her name is not acknowledged in the credits as to one of the people providing insight and wisdom for this book. Peggy, one would guess, took a back seat to Mildred’s life. Unfortunately, as successful as Mildred was, apparently she was unsuccessful in balancing motherhood with all the other amazing feats she accomplished. I am not surprised at this. Generally when women are like this, they have no children or if they do, their children suffer in the attachment process. I have seen this time and time again in my profession. You can’t do everything without something or someone suffering.
Some of the other books that Mildred was known for writing, none of which have merited the success today that Nancy Drew has, though they were well known in their time include: Ruth Fielding and her Great Scenario, the Dana Girls series, the Penny Parker series, Kay Tracy series, Penny Nichols series and more. It is interesting to note that most of these girls lived with their father because their mother had died. Why this was the case remains a mystery because neither Edward Stratemeyer nor Mildred lost their mother’s at an early age from what I have read. Mr. Stratemeyer developed the storylines and so my only thoughts on this are that 1. Mr. Stratemeyer did not have a close relationship with his mother or 2. Felt that a mother character in these novels would get in the way of the female characters development – a girl would subsequently strengthen as a woman by losing a mother because she would have to become the mother herself. We were such a naïve society back in the days prior to the sixties when college was more prevalent for both men and women and feminism had become an epidemic. While we do continue to pay money to see regurgitated stories in American pop theater culture, I believe readers are a lot more intelligent than this and demand much more. Not only did these series not have a mother, they were all independent young women who solved mysteries and had spunky attitudes.
Carolyn Keene’s identity ended up being three women toward the end of “her” career. This was not exposed until the 1980’s when two publishers were fighting to retain the rights of the Nancy Drew series. Mildred’s fame began at this time, because after appearing in court to prove her existence and how the stories came about, people suddenly became interested in her. Unfortunately the bigger publishing house won and as is typical in our society, instead of creating a new storyline they have turned Nancy Drew into a website and I suppose an “app” and re-did the stories to appeal to today’s culture. Nonetheless, the Nancy Drew series from the 1970’s can be found in many antique stores here in Ohio that I have been too. I haven’t purchased the set yet but I do intend to so that hopefully my granddaughter will be a fan of the story as well. I’d prefer she reads the original story rather than the modern version because I think it is more important to read it as it was written.
Of course I did watch the actress Pamela Sue Martin, in the TV series from 1977-1979 and the only reason I watched the Hardy Boys is that I was a great fan of Shaun Cassidy back then. From reading the book, I learned that the earliest version of Nancy Drew in the film world was in 1939 (both parts available on YouTube). As I look over this post, I wonder if I am writing about Mildred Wirt Benson or Nancy Drew. How can we possibly think of an artist without seeing their creations in our head?