By Andrea Nadeau
With Women’s History Month upon us, we must look back to the women that shaped and inspired us—specifically, the women of Minnesota.
A woman who deserves some recognition this month is Toni Stone, the first woman to ever join a men’s professional baseball team. She lived from 1921-1996 and was born in St. Paul. From the age of 10 she knew she wanted to play baseball. Though her parents disapproved, she received support from others. When she moved to San Francisco in 1942, she was broke and lied about her age so she could join a baseball team. Her talent was recognized and she was signed in 1953 with the Indianapolis Clowns. After baseball, Stone became a nurse. She was finally inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in New York in 1993.
Judy Garland was a magnificent singer and actress, scoring her first movie contract at the age of 13. She lived from 1922-1969 and was born in Grand Rapids, MN. She and her sisters, Susie and Jimmie, moved their parents to California in 1926, and soon their mother became their manager. They formed a singing group that performed at fairs and theaters. When Garland turned 13 she went solo and signed the contract with MGM. Most of us know her as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She starred in many more movies, one of them A Star Is Born, which spurred her singing career in the 1950s.
A woman who fought for women through literature and in court was Catherine A. McKinnon. She was born in Minneapolis in 1946. She earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1977. After publishing a book on the sexual harassment of working women, the Supreme Court agreed with her that sexual harassment is sexual discrimination and ruled with her in 1986. McKinnon went on to get her doctorate degree in political science, and has published nine books, many journal articles and other literary pieces. As a writer and lawyer for women and equality, she is also a great role model for all women in general.
From Toni to Judy to Catherine, Minnesota has had some great female role models. But it doesn’t stop there: Winona Ryder, Jessica Biel, and Jessica Lange were all born in Minnesota and went on to have great acting careers. Lindsey Vonn, a female athlete, was born in St. Paul and won a gold medal at the Olympics for alpine skiing. Tippi Hendren, another actress and also an animal rights activist, was born in New Ulm, MN.
There are many more women to be inspired by from all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about the women from Minnesota, sites online and books at the library have several from all walks of life. Enjoy Women’s History Month and remember the women who have inspired you.