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Susanna Hall (Shakespeare's eldest daughter)

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  Susanna Hall was the eldest child of William Shakespeare. She was baptized on 26th May 1583 at Holy Trinity church in Stratford upon Avon. She had two younger siblings –   twins Hamnet and Judith – and was raised in the family home owned on Henley Street, owned by her grandfather, John Shakespeare. It was a crowded house when she was little, containing both her paternal grandparents, her mother and siblings, and several of her father’s younger siblings as well. While it is unlikely she had any formal education, which was reserved for male children at the time, Susanna did learn to read and write, possibly taught by her parents or by one of her younger uncles who were not too far from her in age. In 1607, at the age of 24, Susanna married a newcomer to Stratford, the 32-year-old physician and Puritan, John Hall. They had one child, Elizabeth, born in 1608. John Hall had a successful practice, ministering to the local gentry. Some of his case notes were published after his death in

Sirma voivode - A woman warrior who led a mountain gang while dressed as a man

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  Sirma voivode - a warrior who led her own mountain gang, while dressed as a man Sirma Strezova Krasteva was born in a small village in the Shar mountain, which was terrorized by Albanian outlaws. One day, the outlaws kidnapped her best friend Ruzha to bring her to their leader - Hamza Bei. Fed up with their cruelty, Sirma decided to strike the outlaws back. She dressed up like a man and joined the Haiduks - a gang of Slavic peasants aiming to protect their villages from assaults. Once there, she not only earned the respect of her comrades, but they also choose her by vote to be their gang leader. Thus, she turned into Sirma voivode (voivode means leader). And she was only 18. For 24 years her gang roamed the mountain, protecting the defenseless mountain villages and waging war on Hamza Bei and his underlings. With time, Sirma's group reached 72 loyal comrades, and it took a long time until they realized she was a woman. Living in the mountain wilderness was tough, especially when

Sarah Bordetsky - Forget Russia

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    Many families have an unlikely hero—someone who quietly saves the family, so quietly that perhaps most in the family don’t even know the story of her courage.  Sarah Bordetsky, born in 1906, in the small Jewish shtetl of Gornostaypol, Ukraine, was one such person.  She suffered tragedy at a young age—when she was around fourteen years old her mother Zlata was raped and murdered in a pogrom in 1921.  The Ukraine was an extremely unstable place to be after the 1917 Revolution since the Civil War was fought there.  For a while the Bolsheviks lost control of the Ukraine and warring factions of Ukrainian Nationalists and other factions opposed to the Bolsheviks vied for power and control.  In 1921, when the Bolsheviks were able to vanquish the White army and its many factions, the defeated armies, as they retreated went into the Jewish shtetls, murdering and pillaging anyone they could find. Sarah’s mother, Zlata Oushomirsky, lost her life during one of these pogroms.  Sarah’s father, L

Mary Perkins Olmstead - Landscape of a Marriage

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Mary Perkins Olmsted was born on March 26, 1830. Orphaned at the age of eight, she was raised by her grandparents on Staten Island. As a young girl, she loved to play the piano and sing. When she was 21, she married Dr. John Olmsted. They honeymooned in Italy and over the next five years, she gave birth to three children while living in Europe. John died at the age of 32 from complications from tuberculosis and Mary returned to New York with her children. A year later, she agreed to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted in order to provide a secure future for her family.   Her new husband was involved in a plan to turn 800 acres of Manhattan swamp land into a public park. Tempted to quit a number of times, it was Mary’s wise counsel and support that kept him focused on their joint goal ‘to create a beating green heart in every urban space’. Fred and Mary had four more children, only two of whom survived infancy. Fred’s career as a landscape architect took him away from the fam

Boudicca - Rage Against the Dying Light

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Boudicca was born in around 25 A.C.E. The only known writings about her are the following. We have The Annals of Tacitus written about fifty years after her death which covers in a few paragraphs her uprising and battles against the Roman invaders of her beloved British isle. She is also mentioned in a history of Rome written one hundred years after her death by Cassius Dio. Both are accounts written only about her battles against the Roman invaders. Those accounts also include the battles between Venutius a foster prince of a Celtic tribe and Cartimandua, the vicious queen of a large Celtic tribe who married Venutius and then betrayed him. Both were her contemporaries. Both accounts are written from the Roman point of view. Boudicca was married to Prasutagus a much older king of a large and wealthy British Celtic tribe the Iceni in a politically matched marriage. When Romans invaded Briton Prasutagus made a pact with the Romans to lay down all tribal arms and only use them in defense

Martha Graham's Cold War

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Martha Graham, sometimes referred to as the “Picasso of modern dance”, was the first dancer to perform at the White House in 1937 and travel abroad as an officially launched Cold War cultural ambassador. Representing every seated president from Dwight D. Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan, Graham performed politics in the global field for over thirty years during the Cold War, through to the fall of the Berlin Wall with a planned tour to the USSR under George H.W. Bush, which was never completed. Her contributions to US cultural diplomacy efforts and ability to forge human connections make her a fascinating figure in both political history and dance history. Although Graham worked with the men in the White House, she relied on the power of the women in the wings. Starting with Eleanor Roosevelt, who invited Graham to perform for her husband and their guests and then wrote about Graham for her nationally syndicated column, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Ladybird Johnson, Betty Ford and Ba

The Aloha Spirit - The Life of Carmen Dolores Jaime Medeiros Rodrigues

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My husband’s grandmother, featured in my new novel THE ALOHA SPIRIT ,   was an amazing woman. She loved to laugh, and she loved family. Her home was always open to anyone who wanted to be there. I know that if I ever arrived for dinner with ten strangers, she would make room at the table for all of them. That spirit of giving and loving has always embodied the aloha spirit for me, especially after learning of her early life. Carmen was born on Kauai in 1915. All that remains of her birthplace now is the U.S. Post Office in Mekaweli. Her parents had emigrated from Spain. In Hawaii, Carmen’s father was a dairyman. She had an older brother, but her mother passed away in childbirth with her third child. When Carmen was still small, her father moved the family to Honolulu. Sometime after that, he decided to take his son and go to the mainland to look for work. He left Carmen with a large Hawaiian family. Her children and grandchildren were never told much about her time with this family,