Through Gifts She Made a Difference

Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage (1828-1918), known as Olivia Sage, experienced extreme poverty and immense wealth. And she became “one of the greatest female philanthropists our world has ever known.” Through gifts, she made a difference. Early Life The daughter of Margaret Pierson and Joseph Slocum, Olivia grew up in Syracuse, New York. Her wealthy and devoutly religious family were members of the First Presbyterian Church. They opposed reform movements like those involving women’s rights and abolition of slavery.  After the Panic of 1837, her father’s businesses and warehouses failed. He lost his fortune before she reached her teenage years. Sponsored by a wealthy uncle, she attended the prestigious Troy Female Seminary (now Emma Willard School). An academically rigorous school, it quietly advocated for women’s financial independence through education. This influenced Olivia greatly. She considered its headmistress her mentor. She graduated in 1847. Career Olivia became a teacher (one of the few acceptable female professions at the time). She experienced firsthand the limited opportunities, underpaid, and overworked difficulties common for the 19th century woman. The year 1948 sparked Olivia’s interest in women’s rights. It was the year of the “Declaration of Sentiments” in Seneca Falls. In 1852, the Third National Women’s […]

Four Women First to Enlist

Before 1914 it was a man’s world. Men ran the country, worked for a living, and fought the wars. A woman fighting beside men was unimaginable. Then on July 28, 1914, Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. That assassination set off a chain of events that escalated beyond their borders and into what we call World War I. And by the end of the war on November 11, 1918, more than 200,000 women were in uniform and serving their countries. On Veteran’s Day, we salute four women first to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.  U.S. Army The Army has not officially stated who was the first woman to enlist. However, historians credit Deborah Sampson (1760-1827) as the first woman who served in the Army. An indentured servant, Sampson disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtleff. Her story isn’t clear, but she enlisted in 1781 or 1782. She was twenty-one. Wounded several times in battle, her physician eventually discovered her gender and kept it a secret. But her physician’s niece became enamored of the young battle-scarred soldier. Not wanting to lead her on, Sampson wrote the girl a letter which ended up being […]

How Many Indigenous People Do You Think America Has?

We’re coming up on Indigenous Peoples Day here in the States. It’s a day to honor the people who were in America long before Columbus crossed the ocean. But did you learn about these people in school? Or did you learn what you know on cowboy shows? The shows that told you about the Souix and the Apache omitted many more tribes. How many indigenous people do you think America has today? How Many Indigenous People? There are over five million Native Americans in the United States today. (1.6% of the total population) Approximately 78% of Native Americans live outside reservations. As of February 19, 2020, 574 Indian tribes were legally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of the United States. But federally recognized tribes do not include all Native Americans. The Definitions We often use the terms Native American, American Indian, and Indigenous American synonymously. Yet, there are federal definitions that are inclusive and exclusive. In the 2010 census the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) used this definition: “American Indian or Alaska Native” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. The American […]