Today marks the 90th anniversary of the first time the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress in 1923. Both Gerald and Betty Ford were strong supporters of this constitutional amendment that stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
When the ERA was again introduced in the early 1970s, Congressman Ford voted in favor of it. Just over 30 states had ratified the amendment by the time he entered the White House. As President, Ford urged “those States who have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to give serious consideration to its ratification and the upholding of our Nation’s heritage.” He hoped that the requisite goal of ratification by 38 states would be reached in the Bicentennial year of 1976.
First Lady Betty Ford staunchly and vocally supported the ERA. “It is my personal opinion that ratification of the ERA is the single most important step that our nation can take to extend equal opportunity to all Americans,” she said.
Here is one of her statements explaining why she was firmly in favor of this amendment.
I think there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.
Madeleine Albright, 2006
On this day in history — December 5, 1996 — Madeleine Albright was nominated for U.S. Secretary of State by President Bill Clinton. She was the first woman to hold the post.
Today in history: 32 years ago, Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman to be sworn in as Supreme Court Justice.
President Ronald Reagan had nominated O’Connor to the Court one month earlier on August 19, 1981.
Photo: Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Her husband John O’Connor looks on. 9/25/81. U.S. Supreme Court.
-from the Reagan Library
"…affirming the right of girls to play Little League baseball."
Located in President Gerald R. Ford’s legislation case files is a recommendation to approve the bill H.R. 8864 and amend the Federal charter of Little League Baseball, allowing girls to play.
Did you know JFK had a formal White House visit with a troll? It’s true! Pictured, President Kennedy meets pilot Betty Miller (who completed the first solo flight by a woman across the Pacific Ocean) and “Dammit,” the troll doll who joined her for the trip!
Mrs. Miller received the Federal Aviation Agency’s Decoration for Exceptional Service from the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, Najeeb Halaby (right). (Credit: Abbie Rowe/JFK Library)
"That we have the vote means nothing. That we use it in the right way means everything. Our political work has only begun when we have the ballot. And that work should be carried out exactly as our college work is — as any good work which we undertake is — it must be thoughtful, idealistic, clean, effective."
-Lou Henry Hoover, April 10, 1920
Before she was First Lady, Lou Henry Hoover spoke at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. At the time of her speech, the 19th Amendment had been passed by Congress. On August 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified, guaranteeing American women the right to vote.
-from the Hoover Library
The American Red Cross was founded on this day — May 21, 1881.
On the founding anniversary of the American Red Cross, here’s Kathleen Kennedy in her A.R.C. uniform from World War II. The photo was taken in London, circa 1943.
Kathleen was the second daughter and fourth child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy.
While in college, Kathleen Kennedy began volunteering for the Red Cross in New York in the summer of 1940. After working for the Times-Herald newspaper, she rejoined the war effort by volunteering again for the Red Cross, this time in London. Read More
-From the JFK Library
Our gratitude goes out to all the volunteers and relief workers of the Red Cross in Oklahoma today, and across the world everyday.
Bill to Break the Sound Barrier
If you were the first woman to break the sound barrier, who would you pick to fly the chase plane behind you?
Jacqueline Cochran tapped her friend, Colonel Chuck Yeager for the task for her May 18, 1953 flight. A logical decision, since he was the first pilot to break the barrier in 1947.
Here is his final bill for his expenses, including the replacement of dead chickens that stampeded when her low-flying Sabre jet flew over a ranch.
-from the Eisenhower Library