Lucy Hicks Anderson

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[A photograph of Lucy Hicks Anderson looking fantastic, year unknown]

Lucy Hicks Anderson was a Black trans*woman born in Waddy, Kentucky in 1886. She, like many of the people featured on this blog, does not appear in high school history textbooks, or even in most university textbooks either. Instead, her story comes to us through the work of people outside of the academy who work tirelessly to ensure that the histories of their own marginalized communities continue to be remembered and (re)told.

At a very young age, Lucy began wearing dresses and other items of clothing gendered as “women’s clothing” or “feminine clothing.” According to blogger and activist Monica Roberts (aka the TransGriot), an African-American transwoman, “[s]ince the transgender definition hadn’t been coined at that time to diagnose what was going on in [Lucy’s life], her mother took her to a physician who advised her to raise young Lucy as a girl” (Roberts, 2011). Lucy left high school at age fifteen and began working as a domestic worker, eventually leaving Kentucky for Texas. After working for a decade in a hotel, she met her first husband Clarence Hicks, whom she was married to from 1920 until their divorce in 1929.

After her first marriage, Lucy went on to own and operate a brothel, and eventually met her second husband Reuben Anderson. They married in 1944, but unfortunately it was this second marriage that caused her to encounter various legal problems. When it was discovered by a District Attorney that Lucy was not born “biologically female,” she was prosecuted for perjury based on there being no legal objections to the marriage, with the transantagonistic implication that her being a trans*woman “should” have caused there to be a legal objection.

Lucy, in response to this obvious pile of hateful garbage, told reporters that she “def[ied] any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.” After this initial set of legal problems, Lucy and her husband were convicted of fraud in 1946, as she had received allotment cheques from the American military as the wife of a U.S. soldier i.e., as the wife of Reuben Anderson. Unfortunately, Lucy and Reuben were tried and found guilty, with both being sent to prison. Once Lucy was released from prison, she went on to live in Los Angeles (because she was barred from returning to her previous home by the police commissioner) until her death in 1954.

Today’s post is dedicated to all of the QTPOC who lost their lives in the targeted hate crime shooting that took place in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. Lucy’s story is emblematic of the ways in which trans* and gender non-conforming people have been legally and extra-legally persecuted in the United States, and of how despite this, they continue to resist, thrive, and survive.

~ M

Bibliography

Black Past [Kevin Leonard]. “Anderson, Lucy Hicks [Tobias Lawson] (1886-1954).” http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/anderson-lucy-hicks-1886-1954. Accessed June 25, 2016.

Roberts, Monica. “Black Trans History: Lucy Hicks Anderson.” The TransGriot. http://transgriot.blogspot.ca/2011/08/black-trans-history-lucy-hicks-anderson.html. August 2011. Accessed June 24, 2016.

 

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Lucy Hicks Anderson

Glikl bas Judah Leib

 

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[Bertha Pappenheim (one of Glikl’s descendants and translators) dressed as Glikl bas Judah Leib. Leopold Pilichowski (1869–1933). {{PD-art}} Uploaded to de.wikipedia 16:05, 26. Jan 2006. This image is in the public domain due to its age.]

This week’s hottie is Glikl bas Judah Leib (1645-1724), a Jewish business woman and rigorous diarist who is better known by the retroactively Germanicised name, Glückel von Hameln.* Glikl’s Yiddish diary is nothing short of a gift: the rich 7-book diary encompasses all manner of themes, shedding light on her family life and business affairs, personal devotion to Judaism and the goings on of the local Jewish community and society more broadly. Glikl’s diary seems largely to have been intended for her children; however, thanks to her years of effort in keeping it, we have a better understanding of how a Jewish woman, albeit one from an affluent background, experienced life in late 17th– and early 18th-century German society.

At 14, Glikl was married and moved from Hamburg to Hameln, the home of her new husband, a merchant. Glikl became more than a merchant’s wife: her diary indicates that her role in her husband’s business was crucial. Her husband seems to have respected her business acumen and treated her as a partner. But Glikl is not simply a hottie because she had serious business savvy. On the contrary, none of this should diminish the important roles she played as wife and mother. Glikl had 12 children who survived into adulthood and she was just as active in their rearing as she was in business. She managed a large family home, educated her children and planned their eventual marriages.

Glikl was widowed by her first husband in 1689. She then assumed full control of her husband’s business, which he fully entrusted to her before his death. Unfortunately for Glikl, her second marriage was financially ruinous. Glikl entrusted all of the money that she had spent her first marriage and widowhood accruing to her new husband, who lost it all and ended up bankrupt. When he died in 1711, Glikl thus found herself destitute and living with one of her children for her remaining 13 years—the very fate her diary reveals she had worked for years to avoid.

Glikl’s diary is an invaluable source for Jewish and women’s/gender history and the intersections thereof. Her active role in both family life and business outside of the home complicates common assumptions about where and how women historically operated. Moreover, Glikl’s daily activities among her family and community can alert us, if we let them, to the very real and multi-faceted value of traditionally feminised labour, including the emotional labour so often undertaken by spouses and parents (in contemporaneous Eurasian societies, typically wives and mothers) that remains today egregiously undervalued or flat out ignored.

~S

*According to Natalie Zemon Davis, Glikl’s name was first Germanicised in this way in 1896 in the first published translation of her diary. It is noteworthy that the addition “von Hameln” denotes aristocracy while also linking Glikl to her husband‘s natal town of Hameln.[1]

 

Bibliography

Davis, Natalie Zemon. “Glikl Bas Judah Leib: Arguing with God” in Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives. Cambridge: University of Harvard Press, 1995.

Turniansky, Chava. “Glueckel of Hameln.” Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women’s Archive. (Viewed on June 17, 2016) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/glueckel-of-hameln&gt;.

 

[1] Davis, 8.

Glikl bas Judah Leib

Joan Nestle

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[A wonderful photograph of Joan Nestle, found on her website http://www.joannestle.com/]

Born in May 1940, Joan Nestle is a Jewish working class lesbian icon of the twentieth century. Nestle grew up in the Bronx, New York City, with her mother Regina working as a seamstress in the Garment District to support her family.

Nestle, in her seventy-five years, has been an activist, a writer, an historian, an archivist. She is a self-described “queer, pre-Stonewall fem [sic]” for whom “sex and politics are inseparable,” each informing “the other; passions spilling over into social visions; social visions carried on every entry” (Nestle, xii). Nestle actively defended femme-butch relationships and gender identities at a time when there was no space or tolerance to do so in mainstream America. She fought on behalf of  and alongside Black Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, stood up for her community of working class lesbians, and was actively pro-sex during the sex wars of the 1980s.

Nestle even took on history itself, writing of how history is “a place where the body carries its own story” (Nestle, xv). She wrote herself and her communities into American history through her writing and teaching, claiming erotic writing as “a documentary [as much] as any biographical display,” a “people’s most private historic territory” (Nestle, xvi). Her writing did not, however, go without controversy, leading to her books being banned at various times and places during the sex wars and afterwards. Alongside her writing, she helped found and curate the United States’s oldest and largest lesbian archival collection, the Lesbian Herstory Archives (which were housed in her New York City apartment for decades).

Nestle is most definitely worthy of the title of Historical Hottie. We here at the Blog tip our proverbial hats to her beautiful spirit.

~ M

Bibliography

Nestle, Joan. A Restricted Country. San Francisco: Cleis Press Inc., 2003.

Joan Nestle

Dr. Hilde L. Mosse

Today’s Historical Hottie comes to us from Kaitlin, an MA History student who studies histories of immigration and ethnicity; class; and gender in 20th-century Canada. Here at Historical Hotties Blog, we want to make sure that there are more than just our two voices deciding on who we will feature each week. So look forward to more guest posts, and for now, enjoy what Kaitlin has wonderfully written up on Dr. Hilde L. Mosse:

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[Photo of Hilde L. Mosse, source http://www.rodagroup.com/hilde.html]

On Wednesday nights throughout the 1950s, you could find Hilde Mosse at 215 West 133rd Street, Harlem, New York. She served as head psyciatrist at the Lafargue Clinic, the first mental health clinic to offer accessible psychiatric services to the neighborhood. Harlem intellectuals Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright and émigré psychologist Frederic Wertham founded the clinic with a team of volunteers and community members to meet the psychiatric needs of the community. Mosse was one of many intellectuals, doctors, clergy, and artists who worked to establish a progressive model of mental health care as an “integral part of the struggle for racial equality in the United States in the early post-World War II-era.”* A refugee from Nazi Germany, who honed her commitment to social justice through close involvement with the sex reform movements of the Weimar Republic, Mosse volunteered her time at the clinic each week until its closure in 1959.

In writing a post on Hilde Mosse, I am turning some attention to one of the many European émigrés who fled persecution based on their heritage, profession, or political beliefs. I admire Mosse for her commitment to social justice in the face of adversity. Her activism recognized the interlocking relationships among institutional racism, structural violence, and medical practices. Mosse is hot for her courage to adapt and pursue her political convictions throughout her personal and professional life.

Born into a privileged Berlin family in 1913, Mosse fled from Europe to America in 1938. In the isolation of exile, she worked tirelessly to help her family, friends, and peers escape Nazi persecution. The courage and resilience of those touched by this history is outstanding. Though Mosse is not particularly unique amongst the countless stories of escape and survival in these years, she is unusual for her success in pursuing her commitments to the “social and political ideals she had gained from volunteer work in a Berlin working-class district and the left-wing anti-fascist struggle.”** Though many historians argue that the spirit of Weimar Reform died with the rise of National Socialism in Germany, Mosse’s investment in the Lafargue Clinic is one case where it carried on in exile.

In the aftermath of World War II, Black Americans were outspoken of the irony of fighting white supremacy abroad while living in an apartheid America. Harlem residents who had recently migrated from the South faced segregated housing and forced slum conditions in their new Northern homes; conditions which adversely affected their mental health. Harlem intellectuals and community members looked to psychiatry as a tool to alleviate the psychological brutality of living in an unequal society. This reality was recognized by the clinic’s blend of psychological traditions with pragmatic solutions to best meet their clients’ needs. It was a collaborative project between experts and residents in a quest for racial justice.

After the clinic’s closure in 1949, Mosse went on to work in the field of child psychology. She maintained close ties with the director, Frederic Wertham, and helped him prepare evidence of the harms of segregated schooling. Recently, Mosse’s niece remembered,

 

“One of Hilde’s proudest moments was when a special letter was received by the Lafargue Clinic from the head of the NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund, Thurgood Marshall, future Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. The letter thanked Lafargue for their assistance with the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education.” ***

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[Photo of Hilde L. Mosse with client, source http://www.rodagroup.com/hilde.html]

 

Mosse’s privileged upbringing helped her throughout her life. It allowed her the best schooling and medical training, skills that carried over and helped her in America. Her English language skills, for example, helped her secure a teaching job upon first arrival. Though overqualified for the position, it was an opportunity that eluded many émigré health professionals. Despite this privilege, she faced the destruction of her life in Germany and met the challenges of rebuilding in a foreign country. Throughout these hardships, she maintained her political convictions and belief that society should be made more just through social actions. Mosse was one of the volunteers who made the Lafargue Clinic possible; recognizing her as a historical hottie is a reiteration of the importance of the communities and collaborations in enacting—through collective effort and perseverance—social change.

* Gabriel N. Mendes, Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry (Cornell University Press: 2015), 4.

** George L. Mosse, Confronting History: A Memoir (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000): 77.

*** Honoring My Aunt, Dr. Hilde L. Mosse. The Roda Group. Accessed June 02, 2016. http://www.rodagroup.com/hilde.html.

 

Bibliography

Ash, M. G. “Women émigré psychologists and Psycho-analysts in the United States.” In Sibylle Quack’s, Between sorrow and strength: women refugees of the Nazi period. Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 1995.

Grossmann, Anita. Reforming sex: the German movement for birth control and abortion reform, 1920-1950. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Honoring My Aunt, Dr. Hilde L. Mosse. The Roda Group. Accessed June 02, 2016. http://www.rodagroup.com/hilde.html.

Mendes, Gabriel N. Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry. Cornell University Press, 2015.

Mosse, George L. Confronting History: A Memoir. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

Stewart, Catherine A. “Crazy for this Democracy”: Postwar Psychoanalysis, African American Blues Narratives, and the Lafargue Clinic.” American Quarterly 65, no.2 (2013): 371 – 395.

 

 

Dr. Hilde L. Mosse