Women's History Month with USPS FCU

In celebration of Women's History Month, U.S. Postal Service Federal Credit Union is honored to highlight contributions of women who helped push the country forward. The contributions made by each woman represented in this article are grand enough in scale for them to have earned the honor of receiving official USPS stamps in their likeness.

Juliette Gordon Low & the Girl Scouts

Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) founded the Girl Scouts of U.S.A., an organization that has inspired and taught countless girls for almost a century. After working as a Girl Guide leader in the United Kingdom, Juliette returned to the United States and formed the first American Girl Guides (later renamed Girl Scouts) troop in 1912. The first troop registered 18 girls; today the organization has over 3.7 million members. Girl Scouts uses a variety of activities to help girls learn skills for the future and to provide service to others. Through their programs they promote confidence, courage and camaraderie among young women and girls. Juliette was deeply committed to the group, always wearing her Girl Scout uniform and recruiting girls wherever she went. Her legacy was honored in 1979 when she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was an educator who inspired many with her social activism. Born in South Carolina to former slaves, Mary valued the education she received and began to give back. In 1904 she founded a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, which eventually became the Bethune-Cookman College. Mary served as its president for over 40 years, working to ensure a high standard of education and proper funding. She founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 and served as the vice-president of the NAACP for 15 years. Her work was noticed by President Franklin Roosevelt, to whom she served as a counselor on child welfare and as an advisor regarding issues facing African Americans.

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” -Bethune

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters (1896-1977) is one of the most outstanding African American popular artists of her time. Like many artists, Waters began her career on the vaudeville stage before she achieved national fame in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s she made Broadway history by becoming the first African American to receive equal wages with her white co-stars for her role in As Thousands Cheer. Waters continued to have a successful career into the 1940’s, and in 1949 received an Academy Award nomination for her role in Pinky. Because of her immense success during her career, Ethel Waters has remained an important figure of popular music throughout the twentieth century.

Dorothea Dix

Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) worked ardently for prison reform and to aid the mentally ill. She had been teaching for 20 years when she fell ill and traveled to Europe to recuperate. During her time in England she met people working to reform prisons and improve care for the mentally ill. At that time, prisons housed both criminals and the mentally ill who could not function in society. Upon returning to the United States Dorothea witnessed the pitiable conditions of the prisons in America. She immediately took action, gathering clothes for inmates, recording conditions at jails and helping several states pass legislation for the mentally ill. Dorothea eventually founded 32 mental hospitals and 15 schools for children with learning disabilities, as well as schools for the blind and nursing schools.

Ida M. Tarbell

Although she originally began her writing career at McClure’s, Ida M. Tarbell (1857-1944) changed the world of investigative journalism in 1904 when she wrote, "The History of the Standard Oil Company." Her story exposed the corruption of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, and largely contributed to the Supreme Court case that ultimately decided to destroy the Standard Oil monopoly.

Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan

Helen Keller (1880-1968) suffered from an illness as a small child that left her deaf and blind. Due to her condition, she had difficulty communicating with the world. In 1886, Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) became Helen’s governess and lifelong companion. Anne had suffered from blindness as a child and was able to work with Helen through a language of hand communication. With Anne’s help, Helen showed the world that people with disabilities can lead full, productive lives. Helen graduated from Radcliff College in 1904 and dedicated her life to working on behalf of the disabled and on issues such as gender and racial equality. Together, Anne and Helen worked for the American Foundation for the Blind, serving as advisors and advocates for the rest of their lives.

Source: Smithsonian National Postal Museum by postalmuseum.si.edu | Special thanks to the National Postal Museum to providing this information.

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