Keystone State She-roes II

Keystone State She-roes II
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My recent trip to Philadelphia triggered the thought that I should find out why Pennsylvania is called the Keystone State. I learned that the keystone is the central wedge-shaped stone in an arch that holds all of the other stones in the arch together. Pennsylvania was the middle colony of the original 13; many important documents (including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) were written there; and it was important economically, politically, and socially in the development of the United States. In this blog, I profile some of the many amazing women with ties to Pennsylvania. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Credited with sewing the first American flag after being asked to do so by a secret committee that included George Washington.

____ 2. Her muckraking journalism led to the breakup of Standard Oil Company.

____ 3. An artist and portraitist who received the Chi Omega fraternity’s gold medal for “the American woman who has made the greatest contribution to the culture of the world.”

____ 4. A writer and art collector, one of her most famous quotations is “A rose is a rose is a rose.”

____ 5. Committed to writing, the publication of her novel Little Women (1869-1870) was a commercial success.

____ 6. She administered the province of Pennsylvania for 14 years and was later named an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

A. Hannah Callowhill Penn

B. Betsy Ross

C. Cecilia Beaux

D. Louisa May Alcott

E. Ida Tarbell

F. Gertrude Stein

The second wife of William Penn, Hannah Callowhill Penn administered the province of Pennsylvania for six years while her husband suffered from debilitating illness and in the eight years after his death. Born in England, she married Penn when he was 52 and she was 25. She bore him eight children, although one did not live long enough to be named, and visited Pennsylvania for a period of 23 months in 1699-1701. She is one of very few individuals and the first woman to be named an Honorary Citizen of the United States (1984).

Usually credited with making the first American flag, Betsy Ross was born and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ross claimed that three men, including George Washington, called upon her in May 1776 and asked her to sew the flag. Such a request would not have been unusual, as she was in the upholstery business. She completed the flag in either late May or early June 1776.

Novelist Louisa May Alcott, best known for her novel, Little Women, was born in Philadelphia. Although she worked as a nurse during the Civil War, she had begun publishing poems, short stories, and other forms of writing as early as 1851 (under a pseudonym). After documenting her Civil War experience, she became determined to embark on a career as a writer and began to use her own name. Little Women (1869-1870) made her famous and financially secure. She continued writing for the rest of her life. Alcott has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Artist Cecilia Beaux was born in Philadelphia. By age 18, she was earning her living as a commercial artist. Her first portrait was completed in 1884. Beaux became renowned for her portraits and painted writers, politicians and other artists. Her pictures were exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and she taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt presented her with Chi Omega fraternity’s gold medal for “the American woman who has made the greatest contribution to the culture of the world.”

Born in Amity Township, Ida Tarbell, like Louisa May Alcott, was also a writer. An investigative journalist, Tarbell has also been termed a “muckraker” – referring to journalists who were reform-minded and who exposed corruption in politics and business. The only woman in her graduating class at Allegheny College in 1880, Tarbell became famous for her exposure of Standard Oil Company’s business practices that led to the breakup of its monopoly holdings in 1911, determined to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Tarbell has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and she has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp.

Born in Pittsburgh, author and art collector Gertrude Stein is best known for her salon in Paris in the 1920s. She and her brother positively influenced the careers of artists including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. During World War I, she and her lifelong companion Alice B. Toklas served as ambulance drivers. She lectured and wrote opera librettos and other forms of literature. She strongly influenced modern literature and one of her most famous quotations is based on words she wrote in the poem Sacred Emily: “A Rose is a rose is a rose.”

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women with ties to the Keystone State are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and to write them back into history.

(Answers 1-B, 2-E, 3-C, 4-F, 5-D, 6-A)

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