Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Girls Who Wear Pearls

Mom always said, “A girl should never be without pearls.” Mom was right. Pearls are grounded and classic, a reminder of a girl’s dignity and gender. Nobody knew this better than Dickey Chapelle, a pioneer female photojournalist and war correspondent who followed the troops into war zones, foxholes, and front lines during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. You never saw Dickey without her trademark Leica camera, and wearing her everpresent anti-combat-ready pearl stud earrings.

Several years ago, I stumbled across a documentary about Dickey Chapelle while flipping through the TV channels in a motel room. Totally enchanted by her story, I jumped on and found a biography about her, Fire in the Wind: The Life of Dickey Chapelle, a great read by Roberta Ostroff. As a biographer myself, I was impressed by this seriously researched and well-crafted life story of a fascinating character and female pioneer journalist. After Dickey fought her way into military war zones before women did that sort of thing, she exercised her craft with precision and compassion. When she was captured and imprisoned during the Hungarian revolution, she dealt with it. Dickey was no angel, but she was courageous and dedicated, and would do just about anything for a story. She met her end in 1965, the first war correspondent killed in Viet Nam, when she stepped on a land mine. At age 46, she was also the first American woman reporter killed in action.

During Women’s History Month in March, I am wearing pearl stud earrings in honor of Dickey Chapelle. The truth is that I wear them often anyway. They go with everything, and after all, Mom said that is the way to go. My camera is a Panasonic Lumix … no surprise that it has a Leica lens.

Happy Women’s History Month! — Joyce


Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Writing Life


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Forever Young

1900 Census

As Women’s History Month winds down, census records are on my mind. They are a blessing and a curse to the biographer. Once again, I am researching a Victorian Colorado woman who was fashionably demure about revealing her age and birthdate. Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor was born in 1854. I am not sure of the exact date, because I have encountered negative evidence in that regard. She attained the age of six by the 1860 census. If my math is correct,  she would have been 46 years old in 1900. The newly widowed Baby Doe figured it out differently. In 1900, her birthdate is shown as 1861 and her age as 38, thus not breaking the dreaded 40 barrier.

Baby Doe was not unusual. Literally every woman I have researched during the Victorian Age lied about her age and birth year on census records. The age is never higher. Male pioneers rarely deviate from their birthdate. What does all this mean? Perhaps women back then felt a need to work harder to maintain a youthful demeanor and appearance for a variety of reasons. It could strictly be a case of feminine vanity. As a result, I work harder to prove my facts, and I usually discover more insights along the way. So it goes.

This subject was on my mind recently as I filled in my 2010 census form. Thinking ahead, would my children’s children some day find some interesting data as a result of my entry? In spite of their flaws, or possibly because of them, census records reveal interesting facts and perceptions about those who precede us.

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/28/10

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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Denver history, Family history


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Women in Western History

MB face

Mrs. J.J. Brown from Denver Post, 10-28-1932.

This week in Colorado, Women’s History Month will be celebrated at an event called “Meet the Women in Denver’s History”. On Wednesday, March 24, 5-7 p.m., at Denver’s Molly Brown House Museum, docents will dress as historic characters while visitors enjoy an open house. I have the privilege of meeting and greeting patrons in the carriage house gift shop, and to sign copies of my biographies. Characters from my books who will be portrayed are Margaret Tobin Brown, Justina Ford, and Emily Griffith, and Augusta Tabor from an upcoming project. Debra Faulkner will also be signing her books about Emily Griffith and Mary Elitch Long. Hope to see Denver history buffs there!

To learn more about Women’s History Month, visit the National Women’s History Project at The focus of their project is writing women back into history. Also, visit the Women Writing the West blog for more observations about Women’s History Month. .

As stated on my web site, my mission is to preserve and share the stories of pioneers from Western history through books, articles and presentations. My objectives and endeavors are not gender specific. Many of my female characters enjoy strong and productive relationships with their significant others without which they would not be able to achieve the magnitude of their goals and aspirations. We often learn about women through the work of their partners, thus allowing them the opportunity to step forward for their own well deserved recognition. Teamwork often creates an inspiring dynamic and role for others to follow. Those who forge ahead as individuals are no less inspiring, and often exhibit astounding courage, strength and intelligence. We have so much to learn by letting all of their voices be heard.

Joyce Lohse – 3/22/10


Posted by on March 22, 2010 in Denver history, Western history


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