During an era more associated with the Wild West, a group of women in Cambridge made historic advances in the field of astronomy, discovering new stars and fundamental principles about how our universe works. In the beginning, they were treated as menial clerical workers and paid a fraction of what their male counterparts got. Only decades later did they win academic respect, earning advanced degrees and finally the title Professor. They were the Human Computers of the Harvard University Observatory.
This week’s show profiles Angela and Ezra Heywood: writers, activists, free-love advocates, suffragists, socialists, labor reformers, and abolitionists who shocked the sensibilities of Victorian Boston.
In March 1870, forty-two women marched into their polling place in Hyde Park and illegally cast ballots in the local election. They were led by local residents and radical activists Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The Grimké sisters were born into a slave owning family in South Carolina, but then spent their lives fighting for abolition, suffrage, and equal rights. Listen to their remarkable story!
Boston in the 1600s was a theocracy, where the Puritan church ruled, and women were seen in many ways as the property of their husbands or fathers. Against that backdrop, a woman named Katherine Nanny Naylor stands out. She was able to win a divorce against her abusive and unfaithful husband, then spent the next 30 years as an entrepreneur. She provided herself and her family with a prosperous lifestyle, while living her life independently. Listen to this week’s episode, and celebrate Boston’s original nasty woman!