Monday, January 9, 2012


Some of you may remember the two Sheroes posts I wrote last year about Amelia Earhart and Lucille Ball. Well I've been wanting to continue writing more posts about inspiring women in history and have finally felt motivated to start again! 

I found an amazing issue of LIFE magazine at my grandma's house a few months ago. The entire issue is devoted to remarkable American women from 1776-1976. I've been pouring over it, reading about the amazing lives of many women I've never even heard of before. Discovering that magazine is what really inspired me to continue featuring Sheroes on my blog! To add a creative element, I am also painting a portrait to pair with a short history lesson of each noteworthy woman.

When deciding who to paint first, I went back to Amelia Earhart (You can read about her history here. ) I haven't done much watercolor painting in a long time and haven't drawn people since I was in college, so this is definitely a challenging, fun new project! 
For my next featured woman, I chose Julia Ward Howe

Born in 1819, the daughter of a well-to-do banker from New York City. At that time, the education of women was very limited. As a child she taught herself, reading from the library her brother sent from Europe during his travels. In 1843 she married Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, a physician and reformer who founded the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. He frowned upon Julia's literary ambitions and forbade her from working outside of the home or being anything more than a traditional housewife. After 20 years of marriage, Julia confided in her diary: "I have never known my husband to approve any act of mine which I myself valued."

Despite her husband's rigid opinions, Julia became one of the most celebrated women in America. In 1861, she was inspired to write, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after she and her husband visited Washington D.C. While watching Union troops singing the song, "John Brown's Body" a friend urged her to write new words for the old tune. Her new song, Battle Hymn of the Republic lifted the hearts of many and transformed her into a permanent symbol of patriotism.

After the war, Julia focused her activities on pacifism and women's suffrage. In 1870, she was the first to proclaim Mother's Day. She was also a co-editor and writer for The Women's Journal, which lobbied for suffrage and human rights. After her husband's death in 1876, she founded the Association of American Women, a group which advocated for women's education. In addition to her reform work, she also wrote travel books, children's fiction and music.

Resources: Wikipedia,, Remarkable American Women, Life Magazine, 1976.

I love reading stories of women who are strong enough to stay true to themselves despite living in a society where their efforts are strongly discouraged. The courage to rise up above the norm, accomplish great things that spark change in our world is in my opinion, inspiring.


kara rane said...

I am so happy you brought 'Sheroes' back to life...fascinating leaders. Your watercolors are a perfect compliment, I look forward to seeing more of these portraits..very good idea*!

surfy birdy said...

happy 2012! these watercolors portraits are amazing. you are very talented. the story and the art really is inspiring.
ps. i changed my link it's now i also updated my blog button link if you'd like to swap it. thank you <3
peace & love!

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone!

Rachel- I have updated your blog button with your new URL :)

Anonymous said...

Rachel!! How cute is your Lady Lindy!? Love it. :)

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