Home About the Programs About Elaine Partnow About Turner Browne The Women Shopping Resources

The Quotable Woman Speaks

Living History Portraits of Amazing Women



818.200-9050 * 818.644-9090

Elaine Partnow  © 2017. Website created by Turnart

SAINT TERESA OF AVILA One of the great Catholic mystics--and certainly the outstanding woman of her epoch, between 1562 and 1577 she established and nurtured 17 convents, reformed the Carmelite order, and became co-patron saint of Spain with Saint James (Santiago). She wrote a good deal of poetry on religious themes. Born in Spain in 1515,her name at birth was Teresa de Cepeda & Ahumada, also seen as Theresa. Teresa suffered ill health a great deal and on one occasion was pronounced dead, wax placed on her eyes and her grave prepared. Just when the nuns came for her body, she sat up, asked for food and drink, and began to tell of what she had seen and felt during her trance. Her life was dedicated to good works and the advice she so graciously offered young novitiates did not go unheeded. She died in 1582.

SOJOURNER TRUTH Probably born in 1797 in Ulster, New York, her legal name, a slave name, was Isabella Van Wagener--she made up her own name in 1843. After she was freed in 1827, she supported herself by doing domestic work, and managed to rescue one of her children who had been illegally sold. She never learned to read or write, but she'd always had visions and heard voices speaking to her: she believed it was God who spoke to her, and she was a passionate evangelist who worked and preached in the streets of New York City. In addition to her missionary work, she also spoke out for black people and for women's rights. By then she supported herself by selling The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, her life's story, which she told to friends in the suffrage movement who wrote it down for her. She helped integrate street cars in Washington D.C. and was received at the White House by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. She died in Battle Creek, Michigan on November 26, 1883.

SOPHIE TUCKER Singer and entertainer, born Sophie Abuza in Russia in 1884 and brought to the U.S.A. as a child, she first performed in vaudeville in blackface, singing ragtime melodies. She almost stole the show in the Ziegfield Follies of 1909. She helped popularize songs of black composers such as Eubie Blake and was also known for racy lyrics. She appeared in several stage and movie musicals, but was especially known as a nightclub torch singer. A unionist, she served as president of the American Federation of Actors in 1938. "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas," as she billed herself in later years, died in 1966.

LOTUS WEINSTOCK.  The performance artist-comedian described her humor as a mix between her California cosmic right brain and her Philadelphia Jewish left brain. Born Marlena Weinstock in Philadelphia in 1943, she started performing under the name Maurey Haydn in Greenwich Village in the mid-Sixties. After the 1966 death of her boyfriend, famed comic Lenny Bruce, she reclaimed the name Weinstock, but traded in "Marlena" for "Lotus". Her heyday was at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store in the mid-70s. She died of a malignant brain tumor in August 1997 at 54. Her daughter, Lili Hayden, is a classically trained pop violinist. (Entertainment; Jewish)

MAE WEST America's original sex goddess, Mae West, made her stage debut in vaudeville at the age of five. The daughter of a former prize-fighter and Bavarian-immigrant mother, West grew up in the tough neighborhood of turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. Before West began officially writing her own material, her reputation grew from her outrageous ad-libs in shows like A la Broadway and Hello, Paris. Her uninhibited sexuality made her an immediate hit. In 1926 West's first original play opened. Sex. Even though newspapers refused to carry advertisements for the play, it ran for forty-one weeks until the Society for the Suppression of Vice forced its premature closure. Sex was gloriously scandalous, and West was eventually jailed for ten days on an obscenity charge! Of course, a criminal record could do nothing to silence Mae West. By 1928 West's reputation was known internationally, and she soon launched her successful film career. The author of sixteen plays and screenplays, as well as several novels and an autobiography, West continued to play her signature roles well into her seventies and eighties. An authentic American original, she nearly single-handedly opened the locked doors of bedrooms everywhere, flaunting the view for all to see.

SARAH WINNEMUCCA Born around 1844, she was a member of the Paiute Indian tribe and was raised in what is now the state of Nevada. Her Indian name was Thoc-me-tony, which means Shell-Flower. Sarah learned English and Spanish while working on a ranch in the San Joaquin Valley; she also knew three Indian tongues. This enabled her to become an interpreter for Indian agents and for the military. She also worked as a guide, a scout and a teacher. Her tribe was treated very badly and was moved from one reservation to another. Finally, they were exiled to the Yakima Reservation in Washington Territory. Sarah became an eloquent speaker and toured the country, fighting for the welfare of her people. She wrote a book called Life among the Paiutes. Although she became a Christian, she never lost her beliefs in the great "Spirit Father" of her tribal people. She spent her last years in Montana, where she died of consumption before her fiftieth year. White men often called her "the Princess," and the Paiutes, "Mother"; at her death she was called "the most famous Indian woman of the Pacific Coast".

LOTUS WEINSTOCK The performance artist-comedian describes her humor as a mix between her California cosmic right brain and her Philadelphia Jewish left brain. Born Marlena Weinstock in Philadelphia in 1943, she started performing under the name Maurey Haydn in Greenwich Village in the mid-Sixties. After the 1966 death of her boyfriend, famed comic Lenny Bruce, she reclaimed the name Weinstock, but traded in "Marlena" for "Lotus". Her heyday was at Los Angeles' Comedy Store in the mid-70s. She died of a malignant brain tumor in August 1997 at 54. Her daughter, Lili Hayden, is a classically trained pop violinist.

ROSALYN YALOW Born Rosalyn Sussman in 1921, she was raised and lives in New York City. By seventh grade, Rosalyn was committed to mathematics. She graduated Hunter College with honors and degrees in chemistry and physics. Yalow overcame great odds and discrimination by being the only woman among four hundred men at the University of Illinois College of Engineering Physics Department. She got her Ph.D. in nuclear physics. Beginning in 1950, she worked at the Bronx Veterans' Hospital laboratory with Dr. Sol Bernson. They discovered how to measure small amounts of hormones in the human body by using radioisotopes. The method is called RIA and it is vital to determining the amount of foreign material in the blood. Yalow was first woman to receive the Albert Lasker Award (1976) and the second woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine (1977).

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Born October 11, 1884 in New York City, she has been one of the most widely admired women in the world today. Not only did she serve as First Lady in the White House during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's twelve years in office, but as a United Nations diplomat and an international humanitarian. Her uncle was President Theodore Roosevelt; Franklin, whom she married in 1905, was her distant cousin. While at the White House she instituted press conferences for women correspondents for the first time. She had a regular radio show and wrote a daily newspaper column, "My Day". Politically active even before moving into the White House, she resumed that role after her husband's death in 1945. She traveled the world many times over and met with most of its leaders. Her pet causes were equal rights for everyone and child welfare. (American)

RITA RUDNER (1953- ). One of today’s popular female comics, Rudner has made numerous appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman. She won the 1990 American Comedy Award as Best Female Stand-Up, had her own comedy variety series in England–she’s married to an Englishman-- and did a special for HBO, Born To Be Mild. A native of Miami, Rudner left home at age 15 to seek fame and fortune on the Broadway stage. Now she lives on the West Coast. When she’s not performing, she writes screenplays and books. One of them, Tickled Pink, tickled my funny bone. One of the reasons I like Rita Rudner so much is she makes me laugh without ever resorting to being dirty. (Jewish; Entertainment)

MARGARET SANGER (1883-1966) is regarded as the mother of the American reproductive rights movement. A trained nurse, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in New York City; it was staffed by women doctors. A subsequent clinic she opened in Harlem was staffed by African-American’s. She was motivated to do so for two reasons: to prevent the horrors of back-alley abortions and to grant women the freedom to control their own destinies. She was arrested for distributing information on birth control. She founded the American Birth Control League in 1921; it evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1929, she formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, which served as the focal point of her lobbying efforts to legalize contraception in the United States. From 1952 to 1959, Sanger served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. (Healing Arts)

WILMA SCOTT-HEIDE (1926-1985). Heide was a teacher and the director of nursing education at Pennsylvania State University (1957-1967); she was also a research assistant and project director for the American Institutes for Research (1967-1971), behavioral scientist and human resources and education consultant (1970-1985), and professor of women's studies and innovative and experimental studies and director of women's studies at Sangamon State University (1980-1982). She served as the third president of NOW, 1971-1974 and, in 1973, helped form the Women's Coalition for the Third Century, serving as the organization's vice president. Heide was instrumental in the 1973 Supreme Court case Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations Pittsburgh Press, which resulted in ending the practice of listing separate help wanted ads for men and women. (Healing Arts)

HANNAH SENESH One of Zionism and modern Judaism's heroes, Senesh (or Szenes) was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1921. Her father was a playwright and journalist who died when she was six. At the time of Kristallnacht, Senesh volunteered for the Haganah (underground Jewish self-defense army). In June 1944, she parachuted into Yugoslavia near the Hungarian border, was captured, brutally imprisoned, then murdered by a firing squad at the age of 23. Her poems, made famous in part because of her tragic death, reveal a woman imbued with hope even in the face of adverse circumstances. (Jewish)

ELIZABETH CADY STANTON Born November 12, 1815 in the state of New York, she led the way in formulating the first organized demands for woman's suffrage in 1848. Her father was a U.S. congressman and later a judge, and she studied law in his office. That's where she learned of the discriminatory laws under which women lived. It was she who helped obtain property rights for married women in her home state. She began her association with Susan B. Anthony, who managed the business affairs of the movement, in 1850; Elizabeth did most of the writing. Together they edited a women's rights newspaper, The Revolution, and, with Matilda Gage, the first three volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage. She finished an excellent autobiography, Eighty Years and More, before she died in 1902 on October 26 in New York.

GERTRUDE STEIN The ground breaking writings experiments of Stein reflect her genius for toying with language and its meanings. She hails from Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where she was born in 1874, the seventh child of German immigrants. By age seventeen both her parents had died. She earned a B.A. magna cum laude at the Harvard Annex (later Radcliffe College), then studied briefly at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In 1903 she and her brother Leo left for Paris and the art world. The close relationship folded upon Leo's awareness of his sister's lesbianism. Alice B. Toklas became Gertrude's lifelong companion, and their home became a hub for some of the greatest artists and writers of the modern era. In addition to her many books, like The Making of Americans, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Everybody's Autobiography, she wrote over seventy-six operas and plays, winning an Obie in 1964 for Four Saints in Three Acts. She died in 1946.

GLORIA STEINEM Born March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio, the young Steinem was left to care for both herself and her mentally ill mother after her parents' divorce. Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Smith College in 1956, she spent two years in India where she became involved with the nonviolent protest movement. She returned to the States with a new awareness of social and political issues. Starting out as a freelance journalist, in 1968 she joined the founding staff of New York magazine, writing the column "City Politic." In the late '60s she became one of feminism's most articulate and outspoken leaders. She helped form the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971 and, the following year, launched Ms. magazine, serving as its editor for the next 15 years. She's written several books, notably Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Revolution From Within, and has lectured worldwide. In September 2000, Steinem was married for the first time, at the age of 66, to David Bale, a South African-born entrepreneur who died in 2003.

HENRIETTA SZOLD One of the first Americans to work actively for a return of the Jewish homeland in Palestine, Szold, who was born in Baltimore on December 21, 1860, defined a new identity for American Jewish women as a community leaders and as providers of health care and social services in the land of Israel.  Among her many contributions were the founding of Hadassah: the National Women’s Zionist Organization of America (1912), and the directing of Youth Aliya, whose goal was to bring young Jews to Eretz Yisrael.  Through her accomplishments, Szold achieved international prominence as an educator, social reformer, and Zionist.  She moved to Jerusalem in 1920.  Although childless herself, she was “mother” to the thousands of young refugees from Nazi Germany saved from the Holocasut.  She died on February 14, 1945. (Jewish)

A-Ha      Ho-Ri      Ro-Z

Back to top