High objects of State (letters patent from Queen Victoria, each w/ Great Seal):
Author of Balfour Declaration - 1898 diplomatic credentials, for talks with Germany |
Chancellor of the Exchequer letters patent of Gladstone, 1873
The (Swedish General) Viktor Balck Olympic Games- Founding Archive
Swedish gold and bronze medals honoring Viktor Balck | Viktor Balck 1912 Stockholm Olympics book Tower and Sword collar of Viktor Balck
Civil War Gillmore Medal to Jewish officer who helped 1863 "Glory" charge toward Ft. Wagner 1863
Statesmen |Koerber - 1920s friend, then foe of Hitler |The Viktor von Koerber WWI Aviation Archive|
Presentation keys, gold medal to major U.K. statesman Award Documents to important 19th century European diplomats
The JFK and staffers convention badges etc. Archive: I.D. Badges to JFK and Secretary Ev Lincoln Mass. Labor Federation badge (major speech) 1960 Democratic Nomination campaign: aide Bob Troutman
Heroines | "Girl who defied Hitler" at 1936 Olympics: biography Inge Sorensen Archive: items First ever (gold NYC) Women's Club Medal of Honor Award Diplomas to great Jewess opera singer
The Poignant Mayer family Jewish Heroism for (in WWI) and Flight from (pre-WWII) Germany ArchivePresentation trowel etc. to president of "philanthropic" society for troubled girls
from west of
Hero of the Soviet Union Nadezhda FEDUTENKO, a "Night Witch" dive bomber squadron commander in WWII, incl. at Stalingrad; one of only 95 women to get this, the highest Soviet award
Medals, I.D. cards, etc., to women..in..the Resistance to Nazi occupation of France and Belgium:
Ruth SALWEY helped save blacks & Jews from certain death at Nazi hands. Incl. are books by her about her captivity at hands of Nazis, and about her "fanatical" Evangelical father, "The Beloved Commander".
Aside from the Enlightenment and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions (and their obvious consequences, e.g. mass prosperity and WMD's), the change of greatest human magnitude in recorded history has arguably been the emergence of women in the 20th century from their prior state of almost complete dependency upon men. Among the causes of this transformation, the precipitous drop in infant mortality in the last 100 years must rank quite high, along with various technological changes. In any case, the story of women's efforts to more fully participate in public life broadly defined, esp. within the most influential countries, is as gripping as any struggle ever recorded. This story, and particularly certain aspects thereof, are not nearly as well known as they ought to be, so this essay will attempt to begin to correct that deficiency in public awareness.
The idea of women's rights began to emerge with the flowering of the Enlightenment, as people like Abigail Adams and Tom Paine made it a public issue in their writings. Women got off to a good start, so to speak, for the 20th century when Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize in 1903; the rest of the century saw various individual women achieve various feats which are detailed in any number of media. Our purpose here is to cover a few underrated aspects of the story. The drama began to intensify in 1905, when members of the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) started the strategy of provoking arrest by the (British) authorities, so as to bring free publicity to the cause of women's suffrage; the upshot was an immense increase inmembers for the WSPU. Here was the first fairly successful implementation of what would later be known as "guerilla theater" tactics (Anarchists performed assassinations, hoping that the resulting publicity would bring support for their cause, but this hope failed to be fulfilled). Within a few years, these women were protesting the conditions of their incarceration by hunger striking; the Government's response, forcible feeding, turned an already interesting situation into a sensational one which the popular press could not resist covering to an unprecedented degree, thus insuring that the issue would, to put it mildly, become the talk of the English speaking world.
Group of documents, medals, etc., to a German Jewess, Johanna MAYER, and her sons, one of whom was killed in WWI after winning the Iron Cross (incl.). She managed to escape Nazi Germany in 1938, just before the start of WWII.
The ultimate poignant incident seemed to flow inevitably from the preceding events: suffragette activist Emily Wilding Davison gave her life by throwing herself in front of the King's horse at the annual Derby in 1913, thus posthumously becoming a world figure, with her funeral procession shown in newsreels all over the planet. Except for the Davison tactic, the British example would be imported into the U.S. by Alice Paul, an American woman studying in Britain while the W.S.P.U. was developing its approach. Eventually the W.S.P.U. resorted to a campaign of vandalism which ceased with the outbreak of the Great War. In this conflict, British women, particularly suffragettes, seized the resulting opportunity to prove their mettle, capacity, and patriotism as nurses, etc. in the most horrifying environmemt yet produced by human effort, trench warfare; they also contributed as munitions producers, etc. Press coverage of British women's "Deeds That Thrilled the Empire" in this war broke the back of the anti-suffrage movement, first in Britain (1917) then the U.S. (1920). Additionally, German women got the vote in 1919. Of the hundreds of hunger strikers, one might cite Churchill's later quip about the Royal Airforce pilots who held off Hitler's pilots in the Battle of Britain: "Never have so many owed so much to so few."
Meanwhile, events in other parts of Europe, esp. Russia, began a process which would lead to another gripping story in women's history.
Atkinson, Diane, The Purple White and Green (Museum of London, 1992)
Rosen, Andrew, Rise Up Women! (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)
Tickner, Lisa, The Spectacle of Women (Chatto & Windus, 1987)
Heroines: Getting the Vote
The Emergence of Women, and Their Heroism,
as a Decisive Factor in 20th Century History
Medals for Valour for Hunger Strikers, for Votes for Women, pre-WWI England; some of these women were subjected to being fed by force, a very painful and dangerous ordeal, bringing death to a few.
WWI medals awarded to Nellie Hozier ROMILLY, sister in law of Winston Churchill. She volunteered to serve as a nurse on the Western Front in 1914, but was captured by the Germans, and while in captivity earned a reputation for pluck by such deeds as scribbling on a wall the following jingle:
Our good King George
is greater and wiser
than all other monarchs
including Der Kaiser
The Germans decided that this hot potato was too much for them, so they shipped her back to her brother in law, probably fearing his powerful role in the Brit. government and its possible effect on subsequent negotiations for a compromise peace. Members of the family suspected that she became pregnant by Churchill; in any case, her sons Esmond and Giles became interesting persons in their own right. Among books incl. is Rebel: A Short Life of Esmond Romilly
World Championship medals, sash etc., and Soviet parachuting competition achievement certificates, to Larissa KORICHEVA, 1982 World Champion skydiver, International Master of Sport
Heroines : Saving the World
The Russian Revolution brought to power the Reds, who, among other things, promised gender equality (a promise which, like so many others from them, was honored as much in breach as in observance, esp. once Stalin came to power). These breaches, however, bothered Adolf Hitler less than did the observances; many today are ignorant of the fact that Nazism was as explicitly anti-feminist as an ideology of the 20th Century, and that this anti-feminism was a key element in Hitler's defeat. Of all the groups whom Hitler underestimated, none more consistently provided his troops with unpleasant surprises more than did the women of the countries he attacked. Hitler's rise to power set the stage for the most titanic contest, and perhaps the finest hour of women, in history: the sacrifices and hardships that Allied, and esp. Soviet, women had to provide and endure to defeat the German Wehrmacht were of almost unimaginable magnitude. WWII was Total War, as would first be shown in the Battle of Britain, then in the struggle in France between Nazi occupiers and the Resistance, but most massively in the Soviet's Great Patriotic War to repel Hitler's invasion of Russia. The element of surprise women could bring to bear against Nazi troops made them invaluable assets in Resistance operations behind German lines, although the price such women paid, for being caught by the Nazis in the act of Resistance, was almost always the most horrible imaginable, including every sort of sexual defilement; in Russia, good medical equipment was often non-existent, so partisans wounds often had to be repaired with forks, knives, etc. In other places not occupied by the Axis, of course, women did much as they had done in WWI, as nurses, producers of war material, etc., though often under enemy aerial bombardment.
In the Soviet Union, however, women's war participation had an unprecedented intensity and magnitude, befitting the intensity and magnitude of this ideological and "racial" contest itself. The best way to describe this war may very well be to paraphrase Churchill: "Never have so many striven so intensely for such high stakes"; conservative estimates put Soviet deaths in this war at over twenty million, other estimates are of double that figure. The Soviets performed the unprecedented feat of moving whole factories from the path of the Nazi advance to the safety of Siberia, but such was the dire need for war material, that these factories were put into operation immediately after reassembly, ie. before walls could be constructed to protect the females on the assembly lines from the blasts of Siberian wind. Had Hitler defeated Russia, he could scarcely have lost WWII, with unimaginablely dire consequences for humanity. His intent was to wipe whole Soviet cities, eg. Moscow and Leningrad, off of the face of the earth, and to reduce those Soviets who he did not exterminate to chattel slavery; people in those areas which he did conquer learned of this intent first hand. He assumed that he could achieve this conquest without making Aryan women leave their traditional role of "Kinder, Kuche, Kirche."
Soviet women did leave their traditional role, and their performance, including in combat roles, showed the folly of Hitler's anti-feminism. The best known women in such roles were the aviators, some of whom earned from German troops the curse "night witches", since these women made Nazi troops miserable by disturbing their sleep with night bombing attacks on barracks, etc., starting with late 1942 in the decisive Battle of Stalingrad. Some of the Soviet women were so skilled at maneuvering their aircraft in battle that captured Nazi pilots insisted that they were not dogfighting against women until incontestable evidence to this effect was presented. Another important group of Soviet women were the over 100,000 trained as snipers, who between them eliminated almost 20,000 key Nazi personnel. Thousands of women also served as machine gun and mortar operators, and even in tanks. Finally, hundreds of thousands more served as doctors, Resistance troops, etc.; all told over 800,00 wore the Soviet uniform in WWII, accounting for as much as 8% of Soviet personnel. Some 200,000 women were decorated for military prowess, ninety being granted a place in the pantheon of Heroes of the Soviet Union.
Hitler's refusal to allow German women similar roles did much to contribute to his forces' plight of being decisively outnumbered at critical times in the critical sectors of the front. Particularly when historians consider that Western experts expected Hitler's Wehrmacht to defeat the Soviets in six to twelve weeks, the Soviets' ability to avoid defeat altogether, much less their eventual destruction of the Third Reich, is ranked as one of the great achievements of history; U.S. Arm Chief of Staff Gen. Marshall, (later a Nobel laureate) when asked for the military lessons of WWII, summarized: "Don't invade Russia, don't invade China." Soviet women's role in this achievement was such that this episode ranks as one of the most impressive in the history of women.
see Clark, Alan, Barbarossa
Cottam, Kazimiera, Women in War and Resistance
Overy, Richard, Why the Allies Won
Pennington, Reina, Wings, Women, and War
Werth, Alexander, Russia at War 1941-1945
U.S. Army Commendation Medal, w/ 2nd award leaf, & other awards, citations, etc., to Maj. Iolanda CICERCHIA, a nurse in the Pacific theater (New Caledonia etc.) in WWII, and in the Vietnam War
Pressure from the Red Cross saved Simone Ernest ROBINSON..from execution by the Nazis for her leading efforts to save Allied airmen shot down over Europe; she later was President of Belgian Resistance veterans' societies
... and Heroines
from east of the Rhine:
Award Diploma for
WWI British "trio" & Belgian Medal of Princess Elizabeth, given to Countess Vera Mary "Tommy" ROSSLYN , who served with an ambulance unit on the Western Front, and who later became the mistress of Robert Bruce Lockhart, converting him to Catholicism and inspiring his move into writing such classics as British Agent, which in turn inspired his son Robin to write Reilly, Ace of Spies.
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Awards of Outstanding International Importance to Statesmen and Heroines
(Highest) Soviet Order of Lenin, gold, platinum and enamel, awarded 1942 to Polina MIKHAILENKO, senior surgeon of the Partisans in the Crimea, loved for her dedication to her patients, saving hundreds of lives via complicated operations in the face of Nazi SS efforts to hunt down and destroy her and her comrades
Stalin Prize 1st Class gold medal and impressive diploma, given in 1946 to Agrippina VAGANOVA, who is regarded as one of the greatest ballet theoreticians and teachers ever. Her pre-WWII book on ballet technique is continually reprinted and is available at most large US bookstores.
New York City Federation of Women's Clubs, (first of only eight awarded) solid gold (& enamel, great workmanship ) Medal of Honor, the design of which was clearly based on the Congressional Medal of Honor. This was given in 1917 to Dame Leila PAGET, whose leadership of a Serbian Relief Fund in WWI made her a world figure. She caught typhus in Serbia, and was given up for dead, but recovered and still managed to save thousands of Bulgars, Serbs, etc. Incl. are official Reports filed by this Relief Fund, and books about nursing in WWI Serbia.
Set includes full length biographies of her, in English and Russian.) The regimen of the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg is emulated in Vaganova Schools around the world. Her international reputation was such that she survived the Stalin purges although (or because?) she never joined the Communist Party.
US WWII certificate for service in the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) to Patricia THOMAS (Gladney), 1st winner of Amelia Earhart Scholarship, whose 50-year aviation career logged more than 20,000 flying hours; certificate is signed by Gen. ‘Hap’ Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces.
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Arthur MAYER and his Iron Cross; Nazi passport
of his mother Johanna, with red "J" for "Jew".
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German etc. award diplomas given to opera great Lilli LEHMAN, who, despite her Jewish heritage, was considered for adoption by the renowned anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner, in whose operas she performed to a "legendary" level.
People’s Performance Artist of the USSR, medal and award booklet awarded 1952 to Elizaveta CHAVDAR (1925-1989), who was a soloist at the Ukrainian Theater of Opera and Ballet. In 1968 she joined the teaching staff of the Kiev Conservatory, and became a professor there in 1979.
Chavdar’s singing was called melodious, and her articulation had "great purity and expressiveness. Her voice is strong and beautiful in timbre. She is a virtuoso with vivid individuality and refined taste." She is called in "the line of the best lyrico-coloratura sopranos of the world musical history."
There also was a title of People’s Visual Artist of the USSR; just over 1000 persons received one or the other of these titles.
1934 Harmon Trophy for aeronautics (for flying a spherical balloon) awarded to Jeanette PICCARD.
Her flight on October 23, 1934, reached nearly 11 miles (18 km) up into the stratosphere; this set the women's altitude record, which held for 29 years, when Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 became the first woman in space.
She held the women's altitude record for nearly three decades, and according to several contemporaneous accounts was regarded as the first woman in space. She worked as a consultant to the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center for several years, talking to the public about NASA's work, and was posthumously inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1998.
She was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal Church in 1971, and in 1974 became one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained priests—though the ordinations were regarded as irregular, performed by bishops who had retired or resigned. In 1976 the church voted to allow women into the priesthood, and Jeannette served as a priest in Saint Paul, Minnesota, until she died in 1986.
The Balloon Federation of America renamed its award the Piccard Memorial Trophy. Pat Donohue wrote Solo Flight, a one-woman play about Jeannette's life.
Soviet Komsomol badge and diploma to Lyudmila KONDRATIEVA, winner of the 1980 Olympic gold medal for the women's 100 meter race; she pulled her hamstring at the finish, thus missing her chance for other victories in the 200 meters and the 100 meter Relay. She would later win a Bronze in the 1988 Games, as part of the Soviet foursome in the 100 meter Relay.