Wonder Woman debuted in a December 1941 issue of All Star Comics, just as the attack on Pearl Harbor was drawing the US into World War II. In the comics, Wonder Woman’s origin story said that she was born to a race of Amazon women from Paradise Island, then disguised herself as the Boston career woman Diana Prince. In real life, Wonder Woman was inspired by early feminist fights for suffrage and access to contraception, and she was the brainchild of one very unique family who called Cambridge home. Wonder Woman drew as much inspiration from pinup girls in Esquire Magazine as she did from the suffragists who chained themselves to the gates of Harvard Yard and the founders of Planned Parenthood. And she was directly inspired by the women in her creator’s life. Her trademark exclamation “Suffering Sappho,” was taken from one of these women, and her looks and bulletproof “bracelets of submission” were taken from the other.
Wonder Woman’s Real Life Origin Story
- This episode is inspired by The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore
- Jill Lepore delivers a terrific address on Wonder Woman at Radcliffe.
- Below, William Moulton Marston’s FBI file, and his book Emotions of Normal People.
- Elizabeth Holloway Marston’s obituary.
- A counterpoint to the feminist Wonder Woman narrative, from The Nation.
This Week in Boston History
- The Massachusetts Provincial Congress whitesplains the Revolution to a group of Maine Indians.
- A scare in 1631, when Mohawks did NOT attack Boston.
- Read the Massachusetts SJC’s decision in Goodridge v Department of Health, which legalized same sex marriage in Massachusetts. View a vintage photo gallery of the first women to be married under the new law. And below are videos and audio of the celebrations in Cambridge and Boston. (Editor’s note: I weep.)
- Abigail Adams cuts to the quick, as always, “I would not exchange my Country for the Wealth of the Indies, or be any other than an American tho I might be Queen or Empress of any Nation upon the Globe.”
- Samuel Sewall records a bread riot in Boston..
- The Massachusetts Committee of Safety decides “that no slaves be admitted into this army.“
- The “battle” of Grape Island.