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Feminist Chronicles - 1960

Events

Four Black freshmen from North Carolina's Agricultural and Technical College were refused service at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro. Within weeks the tactic of sit-ins had been taken up by 50,000 people across the South. The sit-ins and picketing resulted in riots in some major cities and in numerous arrests. (02/01/60)

The U-2, an American spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down by the Soviet Union, disrupting a Big Four Summit Conference. (05/26/60)

John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in one of the closest Presidential elections in U.S. history. It was also the first election in which television played a crucial role in the form of four nationwide debates between the candidates. Kennedy was the youngest President elected and the first Roman Catholic. (11/09/60)


Lifestyles

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the contraceptive pill (Enovid and Norlutin) for use. The pills were expected to be on the market early the next year and a month's supply was estimated to cost $10 to $15. (05/11/60)

The U.S.'s grande dame of etiquette, Mrs. Emily Post, died in New York at the age of 86. Actually a proponent of common sense in manners, her first best-seller, Etiquette, was published in 1922. (09/25/60)


Education

New York University presented its 1960-61 "outstanding alumna" Gallatin Award to Florence Ellinwood Allen (1884-1966). She was the first woman on the U.S. Court of Appeals (1934) and the first female to serve on a general court (1920). She won the office of common appeals court judge against nine male opponents in 1920 and was the first woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1922. (1960)

Over 53% of female college graduates held jobs and both husband and wife worked in over 10 million homes, an increase of 333% over 1940. The proportion of wives at work had doubled from 15% in 1940 to 30% in 1960. Mothers of children under 18 comprised almost a third of all women workers; 40% of all women over 16 held a job. Female employment was increasing at a rate four times faster than that of men. However, women's average earnings in 1960 were less than 60% of men's, as compared with 65% in 1950. And in the sales field, women's wages were only 40% of salesmen's, while female clerks made 44% of their male counterparts. (1960)

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed by a group of Southern Black college students. Their goal was to end segregation in the South through voter registration drives, sit-ins and marches. College students in the North also began to organize and picketed stores whose Southern branches had segregated facilities. The young women who went South to work alongside men in the fight for Black civil rights slowly became aware that they were second-class citizens in a movement to wipe out discrimination. (1960)


Economic

According to a report in the official Soviet newspaper, Izvestia, while women were only 45% of the labor force, the majority of Soviet Union's professionals were women. There were 110,000 women scientists, 233,000 women engineers and 300,000 women physicians. Some 85% of all medical personnel were women. (01/60)


Religion

Contraception was practiced as often by Catholics as by couples of Jewish and Protestant faiths, according to a Texas survey. (06/21/60)


Media

Award-winning radio-TV journalist Pauline Frederick was the first woman to act as a radio network anchor for a Presidential convention. (1960)

Margaret Leech (1893-1974) won the Pulitzer Prize for history for In the Days of (U.S. President William) McKinley, making her the first woman to win the history Pulitzer twice; her first win in 1942 was for a Civil War book, Reveille in Washington. (1960)

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird, a moving saga about Southern bigotry, became a best-seller and won a Pulitzer Prize. A Broadway dramatization (retitled All the Way Home) of Ms. Lee's book later won another Pulitzer for drama in 1961. (1960)


Political

As the legislative representative for the Industrial Union Division of the AFL-CIO, Esther Peterson headed an alliance to prevent the Democratic convention from endorsing the Equal Rights Amendment in its 1960 platform. Testifying before the Platform committee on behalf of 24 national organizations, Peterson said that real equality required measures that distinguished between women and men and that "specific bills for specific ills" would be the better approach to remedying discrimination on the basis of sex. (07/06/60)

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was sworn in as Prime Minister of Ceylon (now the Republic of Sri Lanka), the first woman premier of a modern parliamentary government. She also served as Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense. The socialist Sri Lanka Freedom Party that she led to an overwhelming victory in the polls had been led by her husband, who was assassinated in 1959. (07/26/60)

Senator Margaret Chase Smith and Lucia Marie Cormier, a six-term member of the Maine House of Representatives, participated in the first all-female race for the U.S. Senate. Republican incumbent Smith won. (11/09/60)


The Backlash

Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) was founded. Alumni of YAF include William F. Buckley, a founder; Richard Viguerie, right-wing direct mail guru; Howard K. Philips, head of the Conservative Caucus; and John T. (Terry) Dolan, who headed the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). (1960)

According to the first synod, or diocesan ecclesiastical council convened in Rome by Pope John XXIII, women in Rome with bare arms or wearing male clothing would be denied the sacraments. (01/24/60)

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