The First Asian-American Woman in the Navy

December 7, 1941, the day they bombed Pearl Harbor, is a date many of you learned in school. You’ve also heard of the anti-Asian sentiment of the time and the horrible Japanese internment camps. But have you heard of the first Asian-American Woman in the Navy? Meet Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy. Lieutenant Ahn Cuddy joined the Navy in 1942, shortly after the bombing. She wanted to help free Korea from the harsh Japanese colonial era rule. It was a time when many people didn’t believe women belonged in the service. Ahn Cuddy said that just made women try harder. Early Life In 1902, her parents immigrated to the United States, the first Korean married couple to do so. They didn’t forget their home country. Under an unequal treaty before they left, and occupied and declared a Japanese protectorate in 1905, then officially annexed in 1910. Susan, their third child and eldest daughter, was born in 1915. While growing up, her home was a haven for Korean immigrants, including Soh Jaipil, the first Korean American citizen. Her father told his children: “Do your best to be good American citizens but never forget your Korean heritage.” Throughout her childhood, her family didn’t just speak out against Japan’s repression […]

The First to Discover the Sex Chromosomes

When women rarely went to high school, Nettie Maria Stevens (1861-1912) wanted to be a research scientist. We don’t know a lot about her personal life, but she became a biologist. And though she received little credit for it during her lifetime, she was the first to discover the sex chromosomes. Before the 1900s, the link between Mendel’s genetic rules and gender were unclear. Scientists didn’t know what factors determined the sex of an offspring. Some believed external factors such as temperature and nutrition influenced gender. Very few thought chromosomal factors were responsible for the gender of offspring. Early Life Born on July 7th, 1861 in Cavendish, Vermont to Julia and Ephraim Stevens. Records of her early life are sketchy. We know her mother died relatively early in Stevens’s life but don’t know what caused her death.  Her father, a carpenter, remarried and the family moved to Westford, Massachusetts. He earned enough to send both of his daughters to high school, though it was uncommon to educate women. Stevens graduated from Westford Academy in 1880. She and her sister, Emma, were two of three women to graduate from her high school. Teacher, Librarian, and Student Stevens wanted to become a […]

Revolutionary War Hero Margaret Corbin

It’s July and fitting that this month’s history posts be about Margaret Cochran Corbin, born November 12, 1751 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, A U.S. Revolutionary War Hero, Margaret Corbin was the first woman paid a soldier’s pension by the Continental Congress. Early Life Born to Robert Cochran, an Irish immigrant, and his wife Sarah, Margaret was orphaned at the age of five. While she and her brother were away from home, Native American’s raided her home. Her father died, and they kidnapped her mother. Her mother’s brother adopted her and her brother. Married Twenty-one-year-old Margaret married John Corbin from Virginia in 1772. Presumably they moved to Pennsylvania. The Revolutionary War Her husband joined the Pennsylvania Artillery in 1775 or 1776.  A matross, an artilleryman, John served on a cannon crew. Margaret, like many other wives at the time, became a camp follower. Camp followers cooked, cleaned and repaired clothes for the soldiers to earn money. They also cared for the sick and wounded. And camp followers brought the soldiers water to drink and to cool the cannons. The soldiers called these women, Molly Pitcher. John manned one of two cannons at Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, when George Washington […]