Category Archives: Women in History

Pratt Institute and Groundbreaking Women

Pratt Institute and groundbreaking women. It sounds like right from it’s inception in 1887, Pratt  was a school that encouraged women to fulfill their dreams. I feel sometimes that we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that until recently, women didn’t have our own independent, vital, creative, interesting lives outside of our role as wife and mother.  If not the latter role, then we were cast as spinsters.  As I’ve told you, Mom was seemingly unusual for her time.  Born in 1914, she had a successful career as a fashion illustrator.  Mom attended Pratt  Class of ’33.  I decided to see who else attended there in those days.  In general, I found a lot of famous attendees, if not graduates – actor Robert Redford, playwright Harvey Firestein, fashion designer Norman Norell, painters Milton Resnick and Ellsworth Kelly and even Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame.  The list goes on and on.  Those were the men.   The women blew me away.  Some I had heard of and some not, but reading about their lives reinforced my belief that there have always been  women doing outstanding work in a so called “man’s world”.  Here is a brief overview of 4 fascinating women, all born in the 1800’s.

THE WOMEN OF PRATT INSTITUTE

Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes Attended Pratt in 1912

1892-1992. Attended Pratt in 1912

Djuna Barnes was an American poet, playwright, journalist, visual artist and short story writer best know for her novel “Nightwood”.   For more, see here.

Gertrude Käsebier

Gertrude Kasebier attended Pratt in 1889

1852-1934. Attended Pratt in 1889

“Gertrude Käsebier  was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century. She was known for her evocative images of motherhood, her powerful portraits of Native Americans and her promotion of photography as a career for women.” ~Wikipedia. For more, go here

Pamela Colman Smith

Pamela Coleman Smith attended Pratt in 1893

1878-1951. Attended Pratt in 1893

Pamela Colman Smith (16 February 1878 – 18 September 1951), also nicknamed Pixie, was an English American artist, illustrator, and writer. She is best known for designing the Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards. For more, go here

Sara Louise Delany

Sara Louise Delany attended Pratt in 1916

1889-1999. Attended Pratt in 1916

“Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany (September 19, 1889 – January 25, 1999) was an African-American educator and civil rights pioneer who was the subject, along with her younger sister Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, of the New York Times bestselling oral history, Having Our Say, by journalist Amy Hill Hearth. Sadie was the first Black person permitted to teach domestic science at the high-school level in the New York public schools, and became famous, with the publication of the book, at the age of 103.” ~ Wikipedia  For more, go here

Mom was in good company.  I’m sure there are scores more stories to tell.  If any of you can add one, please post in the comments. The world needs to hear!