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MAY

May 1, 1950

Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, named Library of Congress’s Consultant in Poetry (later called Poet Laureate) in 1985

May 1, 1852

Calamity Jane, legendary American frontierswoman and professional scout, is born (d. 1903)


May 2, 1729

Birth of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, first as wife of Peter III, then in her own right from July 1762 until November 1796 (d. 1796). She was a canny military leader, seizing power from her husband and wrote numerous books, pamphlets and educational materials aimed at improving Russia’s education system. She was also a champion of the arts, keeping up a lifelong correspondence with Voltaire and other prominent minds of the era, creating one of the world’s most impressive art collections in St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace, even trying her hand at composing opera.


May 4, 1979

Margaret Thatcher takes office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, becoming the first woman to do so.


May 9, 1960

Food and Drug Administration approves 1st pill for contraceptive use in birth control, called Envoid, now used by more than 100 million women worldwide.


May 10, 1774

Marie Antoinette becomes Queen of France, with her husband Louis XVI, of course.

May 10, 1872

Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States as the Equal Rights Party candidate.


May 14, 1925

Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway is published.


May 15, 1869

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.

May 15, 1900

West Australian women win the vote in WA elections with Queen Victoria’s assent to the Bill passed by the WA parliament on 15 December 1899

May 15, 2010

Jessica Watson unofficially becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo.


May 19, 1536

Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, is executed.


May 20, 1932

Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin her solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, the first by a female pilot. She is successful and lands in Ireland the next day.


May 29, 1943

“Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell appears on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post