When I read today about the USS Gabrielle Giffords being commissioned, I wondered how many Navy ships actually had been named after women. I know that naming civilian ships after women is common, but Navy vessels seem to have a different nomenclature (I think of all the World War II-era ships named after states, for instance).
So the history buff in me began looking at Navy history.
While there had been a handful of female-named military ships prior to the Civil War, it was the Harriet Lane to become the first armed ship in the U.S. Navy named after a woman. The steamer was named after President James Buchanan’s niece, and was first launched in 1857. She was captured by Confederate forces in 1863 in Texas.
The Navy had five transport ships during World War II, all named after women: the USS Dorothea L. Dix, the USS Elizabeth C. Stanton, the USS Florence Nightengale, the USS Lyon (named for Mary Lyon) and the USS Susan B. Anthony. There were also several harbor tugs active during the war named after Native American women: the USS Pocahontas, the USS Sacagawea, and the USS Watseka.
But it was the USS Higbee that really caught my attention. The Gearing-class destroyer was named for Lenah S. Higbee, superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps fro 1911-1922. The ship was the first combat vessel commissioned for a woman who had served in the Navy. She was commissioned in 1945, served in three wars, and was decommissioned in 1979. A newly-ordered ship, the USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, will be a Arleigh-Burke class destroyer.
In 1996, the Navy paid tribute to another of its female enlistees. The USS Hopper is named for former WAVE and computer genius Grace Murray Hopper, who remained in the Navy after World War II and helped lead it into the digital age.
Another ordered ship will pay tribute to astronaut Sally Ride.
The Giffords isn’t the only current ship named after a politician. The USS Roosevelt, a destroyed launched in 1999, is named after both former President Franklin Roosevelt and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
See the fireworks Hinges of History created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.
This is a fabulous film by Penny Marshall. If you haven’t seen it, do check out this wonderful history of women playing professional baseball during World War II.
Gawd, I love this film. Forget about Tom Hanks, who’s usually a deal killer for me. But the relationships and chemistry between the women on the team, including Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell, are just amazing. Plus directed by Penny Marshall. Bonus!
Geena Davis co-founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which advocates for gender diversity both in front of and behind the camera in film and television. So even more appropriate that the film is being shown this month.
If you’re in Indianapolis, you can see the film tonight at the Irvington branch of the public library. Or, just get your own copy from your local library or Netflix and hold your own Directed by Women viewing party!
Alice Buy-Blaché – a woman making history.
This is on my must-watch list this month. Alice Guy-Blaché is regarded as the first female director, and she created more than ONE THOUSAND films in the US and France between 1896 and 1920. According to historian Joan Simon, Guy-Blaché was the first to develop narrative filmmaking, or the idea that the film should be a story with a beginning, middle and end.
She had one of the longest careers of any of the early cinema pioneers, and she was one of the first two female filmmakers to own her own studio
All while raising two daughters.
Talk about girl power.
You can get her films on DVD, or see them September 26th at the Nighthawk Cinema in Brooklyn.
An Australian doc- screening this week, but also available for purchase. Global viewing party anyone? #DirectedbyWomen
There are films showing all over the world as part of the Directed by Women global viewing party. Click the link – they keep adding films EVERY SINGLE DAY.
But this film by Catriona McKenzie caught my eye.
Mr. Patterns is a documentary set in the 1970s at the Aboriginal settlement of Papunya in Australia’s Western Desert, where a teacher named Geoff Bardon helped start one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century by encouraging the community to paint their traditional dot designs using western materials.
It’s playing September 3rd as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art Film Series in Sydney, Australia.
Or you can buy it here.
Shirley Clark’s “The Cool World” is a worthwhile addition to the Directed by Women global screening party.
This documentary-style feature film was directed by American filmmaker Shirley Clarke in 1964. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman served as the film’s producer.
The film was based on a novel by Warren Miller and tells the story of Harlem street gangs.
The Harvard Film Archive said:
Clarke’s marginalized position as a female filmmaker afforded her an authentic, deeply felt outsider/insider view; thus, her subject matter of her films also spotlit the alienated, the oppressed, the othered. Unable to even conform to a “standard” format, Clarke instead inhabited the spaces in between art forms, in between dance and film, documentary and fiction, performance and experience.and later film and video.
Clarke died in 1997.
The Cool World screens September 1 at Fabrica in Brighton in connection with the Bijou Electric Empire Forever.
Why you should be a part of the Directed by Women film festival.
This September is the first-ever Directed by Women film festival – a global viewing party celebrating films directed by women.
Why is this important?
Well, according to the Indiewire’s Women and Hollywood project, from 2009-2013:
- 4.7% of studio films were directed by women
- 10% of independent films were directed by women
So in honor of the event, I’m going to be focusing on women-made films here on the blog, both historical and contemporary.
Check out the Directed by Women tumblr for more about the party.