Biographies of Theodosia Burr
Frustratingly, there are few sources which focus on Theodosia’s life exclusively. The majority of information about her life is from books about her father, 3rd U.S. Vice President, Aaron Burr. Here are some of the texts I used when researching the podcast:
Theodosia Burr Alston: Portrait of a Prodigy
By Richard N. Côté
Theodosia, the First Gentlewoman of Her Time
By C.M. Clark
Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 1 (entry for Burr, Theodosia)
Encyclopedia of Women in American History (entry for Alston, Theodosia Burr)
Biographies of Aaron Burr
Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr
By Nancy Isenberg
American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America
By David O. Stewart
Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America
By Thomas J. Fleming
For further information regarding Theodosia’s family:
This website provides a treasure-trove of information about the Burr-Hamilton duel and the Burr Conspiracy:
The American Experience: The Duel
Further information regarding Theodosia’s parents from the Hermitage Museum:
Theodosia Prevost and Aaron Burr
For more information about Theodosia’s disappearance and purported sitings of her ghost, check-out:
History: Disappearance of Theodosia Burr a source of speculation for 200 years (article from Coastal Observer newspaper)
Photographs of the Alston family memorial
Information concerning the Nag’s Head portrait and other paintings of Theodosia:
Portrait of Nag’s Head (article from Antique Trader magazine)
Old Painting Gives Clews to the Fate of Theodosia Burr Alston (article from San Francisco Call, June 1906)
Gibbes Museum’s entry for 1811 portrait of Theodosia
Blogpost of John Wesley Jarvis’ portrait of Theodosia
Theodosia’s has also been featured in historical fiction novels and, most recently, a broadway musical:
My Theodosia, by Anya Seton
Burr, by Gore Vidal
Hamilton (links to the cast recording for the broadway musical)
For the second in a two-part series, we discuss bodies, stays, and busk points. For visual reference, Sarah has provided the following pictures:
For more about historical women's fashion, visit Sarah's blog.
Sarah has also written a piece on the history of corset for the Powerhouse Museum. Check it out here:
From Bodies to Corsets: A Brief Overview of the Corset
For the first in a two-part series, we discuss the farthingale, a structural garment worn under the skirt to increase its diameter. For visual reference, Sarah has provided the following pictures:
During the year 1820, roughly 5,000 Britons descended on what is today the Republic of South Africa to seize land and spread their ‘civilizing’ influence to the Xhosa natives. Among these early settlers were numerous daughters, mothers, and wives. What function did these oft-overlooked women play in the British colonizing scheme?
Rarely in examinations of Great Britain and colonization is the role of women as colonial agents acknowledged. One postgraduate World History & Cultures student at King’s College London has endeavored to rectify this through her research on women and the white settler identity. On this episode of History, Bitches I chat with my classmate Becca about how white South African women helped cultivate and disseminate ideas of cultural and racial superiority.
You can read Becca’s paper here:
Settler Women and the White Colonial Identity on the Cape Colony’s Eastern Frontier, 1820-1870
During her research Becca used primary sources like memoirs. Check-out British settler Martha Jane Kirk’s memoir’s here:
Memoirs of Grannie (Kirk) Blake 1823 to 1906, as told to her Granddaughter, Helen Rosa Moroney (nee Kirk)
For further reading, Becca recommends Alan Lester’s ‘Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth-Century South Africa and Britain’
She parachuted out airplanes, bicycled 500 km. through opposition-held territory, and killed Nazis using just her bare hands! But, before Nancy Wake, nicknamed “The White House,” became landed on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, she was a spunky girl from a broken home, growing-up in New Zealand.
Nancy Grace Augusta Wake was born August 30, 1912 in Roseneath, Wellington, New Zealand. After the collapse of her parents’ marriage, and a childhood lacking maternal affection, she ran-away to explore the globe. Residing in London, Nancy smooth-talked a newspaper executive into employing her, and was dispatched to Paris as a roving correspondent.
A reporter by day, and bon vivant by night, Nancy met, and married, French playboy-industrialist Henri Fiocca. Following the onset of the Second World War, and the Nazis’ invasion of Paris, she and her husband joined the French Resistance. She became a courier, secreting communications and food to opposition groups in Southern France, and aided refugees, run-away POWs, and downed Allied pilots escape France.
Eventually, the Nazis wised-up to her clandestine activities, and Nancy was put on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, with a 5-million franc bounty on her head. They dubbed her “The White Mouse,” for her ability to elude capture. Ultimately, Nancy fled to England, joining Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). There, her continued leadership, intelligence, and general bad-assery led her Nancy to become one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman.
To read more about Nancy’s exploits as a British agent, check-out these History, Bitches approved sources:
From disenchanted, favorite child she escaped to become a hopeful, teenage bride. From business-savvy show woman and courtesan she fell to become a convicted spy. From birth to death, Mata Hari’s life was defined by transformation.
Born Margaretha Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, her girlhood was characterized by wealth and extravagance, until her spendthrift father went bankrupt, throwing the family into poverty. She was pawned-off to relatives following her parents’ divorce and mother’s death, and trained to become a kindergarten teacher. But, after her first brush with scandal, she was again sent packing.
Now residing in the Hague, Margaretha met Rudolph MacLeod, her future husband. Engaged after just 6 days, the pair became acquainted via a matrimonial advertisement he’d taken out in a newspaper. Yet, despite his aristocratic pedigree, Rudolph was no gentleman. His drinking and womanizing, and Margaretha’s free-spending, overtaxed the marriage, and they eventually divorced.
Margaretha took-off to Paris, where she became the toast of the town, having transformed herself into the performer Mata Hari. Here, she became ensnared in a web of deception and treachery which ultimately caused her destruction. Was Mata Hari a double-agent, working for Germany while deceiving France? Or just a superficial woman that accepted money from the wrong men?
To learn more about Mata Hari’s supposed espionage activities, check-out these History, Bitches approved biographies:
You've probably heard of Phillis Wheatley, but chances are you’re not quite sure who she is, or why she’s famous. If you’re nodding your head, keep reading…
Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to publish a book of poetry, was probably born in 1753 or 1754, somewhere in western Africa. At roughly 7 years old, captured by slave-traders.
Considered too sickly for hard labor plantations in the Caribbean or Southern U.S. colonies, she became a domestic servant for the Wheatley family in Boston. Though they kept slaves, the Wheatley’s were relatively progressive; after witnessing Phillis copying the alphabet in chalk, instead of punishing her, they decided to cultivate her academic interests. During a period when some states outlawed teaching slaves to read, Phillis was studying Alexander Pope and John Milton. Actually, the education she received from the Wheatley’s was superior even to most Caucasian males’.
At roughly 12 or 13 years old, her first poem appeared in Newport Rhode Island’s Mercury newspaper; later, her poetry was printed in throughout New England. Still, Phillis couldn't locate funding for a complete volume of poetry in the U.S., and had to seek patrons across the pond. Her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was distributed in 1773 by a London published. Subsequently, Phillis became the 1st African-American, male or female, enslaved or free, to publish a book of poetry. Shortly thereafter, she gained her freedom, but, like many free African-American, she encountered severe economic hardship. Phillis never found a sponsor for a second book, and passed-away, destitute, at roughly 31 years old.
To learn more about Phillis’ remarkable early life, rise to literary prominence, and tragic descent into poverty, check-out these resources:
Entry for Phillis Wheatley at Poetry Foundation, article written by Sondra A. O'Neale, Emory University
The Hand of America's First Black Female Poet, news story from NPR
The Phillis Wheatley Monument, article from Black Art Depot Today
Before Abe connived to murder her lover, Kichizo Ishida theirs was just your run of the mill “married supervisor embarks on love affair with comely employee” story. Roughly two months after meeting, the couple absconded for a prolonged tryst. The money ran out two weeks later. Kichizo returned home; Abe stayed with friends. During the separation, Abe became noticeably agitated. After seeing a play during which a geisha attacks her lover using a knife, she hatched a plan.
Everybody knows the scene; it’s iconic. Little Danny Torrance is cruising on his tricycle through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel. Then, unexpectedly, he’s stopped by the appearance of the Grady sisters. Everything about them is unsettling, from their robin’s egg blue frocks and black Mary Jane shoes, to their ghostly entreaty to “Come and play with us...” I'm creeped-out just writing about it. Nevertheless, this episode’s subjects- June and Jennifer Gibbons, Christine and Léa Papin, and Ursula and Sabina Eriksson-could give those girls a run for their money!
Google Lavinia Fisher and you'll likely come across references to her as America’s first woman serial killer. Though it’s not fact, the real story of Lavinia’s criminal escapades is just as scandalous.
Here’s the legend:
Lavinia and husband John operated a lodge, Six Mile House, outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The Fishers preyed on male customers travelling by themselves. Furtively, Lavinia would poison guests’ supper or tea using laudanum; later, when the man nodded-off, John would butcher them with his axe. Ultimately, one fortunate would-be victim named John Peoples got away; he alerted law enforcement. Searching the Fisher’s roadhouse, police unearthed many decaying corpses. Subsequently, Lavinia and John were arrested, tried for robbery and murder, and condemned to hang.
In reality, Lavinia and John weren't serial killers, but highwaymen. The Fishers belonged to a gang who targeted wagons journeying to and from Charleston.
Though Lavinia wasn't America’s first woman serial killer, her legend was probably inspired by actual events. Check-out the podcast to hear more about Lavinia’s ghastly legend, outrageous true story, and the real-life incidents that possibly influenced the myth.
The Legend of Lavinia Fisher (Murder by Gaslight)
Lavinia Fisher (Wikipedia entry)
Lavinia Fisher – America’s First Female Serial Killer (a superb adaptation of the legend)
The History Bitch
Podcaster, tea aficionado, Anglophile, 'Game of Thrones' enthusiast.