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Drachman
                                        ENTERPRISING
                                                    Women
  ...
ENTERPRISING
                                        Published in association with
                                       ...
C H A P T E R                  F I V E

                                                                                  ...
team with over four hundred employees, an office in San Francisco, and multimillion-
                                     ...
Pinkham was not the first to market an herbal remedy to women in the Boston area.
  “If the men had some of the energy of t...
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Enterprising Women

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Catalog to accompany traveling museum exhibit on the history of American women in business

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Enterprising Women

  1. 1. Drachman ENTERPRISING Women 250 years of american business Virginia G. Drachman ENTERPRISING Meet Katherine Goddard, owner of a print shop and publisher of the first signed copy of the Declaration of Independence; meet Madam C. J. Walker, whose hair care products brought her from her slave parents’ dilapidated cabin to her own Hudson River estate; and meet Katharine Graham, publisher of the Pentagon Papers and owner of the Washington Post Company. These are just three of the diverse women whose lives unfold in this engaging history of women entrepreneurs in America from the colonial era to the end of the twentieth century. Some ran businesses in industries dominated by men, such as iron and aircraft production, while others built businesses that marketed specifically to women, in industries such as beauty, fashion, and food. Despite facing gender discrimination and the burdens of work and family, these women entrepreneurs understood the value of a good idea, were willing to take a risk, and believed in the possibility of the American dream of success. Virginia G. Drachman is Arthur Jr. and Lenore Stern Professor of American History at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. She is author, most recently, of Sisters in Law: Women Lawyers in Modern American History. Women S “I truly enjoyed the book! It’s so important that women read about successful female-owned and -run businesses. Our possibilities are more apparent when our past successes are documented and shared.” S Roxanne Quimby, CEO and co-founder of Burt’s Bees “What a gift Virginia Drachman has bestowed by telling the story of women entrepreneurs and innovators.” S A’Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker “A wonderfully readable and engaging book.” S Wendy Gamber, author of The Female Economy: The Millinery and Dressmaking Trades, 1860–1930 ENTERPRISING Published in Association with the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University The University of North Carolina Press Post Office Box  Chapel Hill, NC - www.uncpress.unc.edu Cover images (left to right): Elizabeth Murray—detail from Mrs. James Smith (Elizabeth Murray), , John Singleton Copley— Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Elizabeth Keckley—Anacostia Museum and Center for African Printed in Italy Women 250 years of american business American History and Culture; Maggie Lena Walker—Maggie L. Walker National C HAPE L Historical Site; Katharine Graham—©Wally McNamee/CORBIS (full picture credits on pages ‒) H I LL Virginia G. Drachman
  2. 2. ENTERPRISING Published in association with The Schlesinger Library Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study Harvard University by Women 250 years of american business The University of North Carolina Press Virginia G. Drach m a n Chapel Hill and London  E n t e r p ri s i n g Wo me n Wo me n Ta k e C h a r g e , 1 9 6 0 – 2 0 0 0 
  3. 3. C H A P T E R F I V E “Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead. Let’s go.” Katharine Graham – Women Take Charge When Linda Alvarado walks onto a construction site, those unfamiliar with the petite S woman with long black hair may conclude she is a trespasser onto male terrain. But Alvarado has firmly planted her feet precisely where she wants them to be. As the founder and presi- dent of Denver-based Alvarado Construction, Inc., she has literally and symbolically made the con- struction business “women’s business.” She does what men have traditionally done—construct commercial and industrial buildings—and she does it well. Under her ownership, Alvarado Construction has left its mark on the landscape of Denver, building the Colorado Convention Center, the ten-story administration office center at the new Denver International Airport, and Mile High Stadium, home of the Broncos, Denver’s professional football  Betty Friedan  Gulf of Tonkin  Arab-oil embargo  President Nixon  Sandra Day  Communist  President Clinton   women Senators publishes The Feminine Mystique Resolution • War Powers Act passes resigns presidency over O’Connor appointed to regimes in eastern Europe signs law abolishing Aid for and  women Members of • Assassination of President • Civil Rights Act • Marion W. Edelman founds Watergate Supreme Court collapse Dependent Children the House serve in the th Kennedy • The Beatles visit U.S.A Children’s Defense Fund • Equal Credit • Physicians recognize AIDS as • Berlin Wall razed • Madeleine Albright becomes Congress • President’s Commission on • Roe v. Wade upheld by Opportunity Act worldwide problem first woman Secretary of State the Status of Women issues Supreme Court • Women’s Educational • MTV premiers report • Billie Jean King defeats Equity Act Bobby Riggs
  4. 4. team with over four hundred employees, an office in San Francisco, and multimillion- Out of Bondage dollar annual revenues, Alvarado has extended the reach of her construction company throughout the western part of the country. Moreover, her pioneering ventures do not Polly Bemis stop with construction; she is part-owner of the Colorado Rockies, making her the first olly Bemis (–) overcame the cruel circum- In , when she married Bemis (in the picture at woman entrepreneur ever to bid for and win ownership of a major league baseball team. From buildings to baseball, Alvarado has expanded the boundaries of women’s P stances of her youth to become one of the founding right she wears her wedding dress), she gained the legal entrepreneurial success, and is a symbol of the pioneer enterprising woman of today. settlers and landowners in the Pacific Northwest. Born Lalu rights to American citizenship and to independent Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. She sits on the boards of several major Nathoy, to peasants in China, she labored in the fields with property ownership in her own name. Meanwhile, her corporations and has received numerous awards. It is no accident that the Horatio Alger her parents. She was either sold or captured and shipped successful boarding house business enabled her to buy Association of Distinguished Americans honored her in  for her initiative, hard across the Pacific Ocean to California, like thousands of land along the Salmon River in Idaho. Through her work, and commitment to excellence and enterprise. Chinese immigrant women tireless work, she created Polly Place, a self-sufficient Just as Madam C. J. Walker and Hattie Carnegie incarnated the American dream for of her time. Bought by a ranch, where she harvested fruit, grew wheat, ground African American and Jewish immigrant women at the turn of the twentieth century, saloon owner, who re- flour, and raised livestock. Tenacity, hard work, and a Linda Alvarado embodies the American dream for the twenty-first century, one with named her Polly, she relentless drive for independence, combined with the help room for a Hispanic woman at the highest echelons of commercial construction and entertained his customers— she received from Charles Bemis, enabled Polly Bemis professional baseball. To be sure, women have run successful enterprises in tradition- men who worked in War- to become a successful entrepreneur on the Western ally male businesses for centuries, but most of them, such as Rebecca Lukens and rens, a mining town near frontier. S Martha Coston, inherited their businesses. In contrast, Alvarado relied on individual Portland, Oregon. initiative, not inheritance, to found her construction company. Having achieved on her Though she was but own in arenas traditionally closed to both women and Hispanics, she is reanimating four feet tall, Polly over- the American dream to be one that, as she proudly proclaims, “is not based on race or came the obstacles of her gender.” 1 bondage and became a While Alvarado’s story reflects much of the progress in the history of women entre- successful businesswoman. preneurs—the opening of traditionally male areas of business to women and the expan- She was befriended by sion of business opportunities to new minority women—Martha Stewart epitomizes the Charles Bemis, a saloon continuity that links women entrepreneurs of the past, such as Elizabeth Murray, Ellen patron helped her open a Demorest, and Elizabeth Arden to those of the present. Her market is women; her busi- boarding house. Polly ness is lifestyle, the modern expression of the enduring feminine role of domesticity. The plunged into the endless roots of her business lie in her childhood home in Nutley, New Jersey, where she learned work of cooking, sewing, and washing for her boarders. to cook and sew from her mother and to garden from her father. Like so many other At the same time, she earned a reputation as a woman of women entrepreneurs, past and present, Stewart has built a business based on that with warmth and generosity. which she is familiar: women’s traditional roles.2 But Stewart has taken domesticity to new heights. While Murray sold dry goods to colonial women, Demorest sold dress designs in the Victorian era, and Arden sold cos- At the same time, transportation, first by canals and later by rail, opened up new metics in the age of the New Woman, Stewart sells a lifestyle—tips, products, and creative markets, making it possible to move greater quantities of goods more quickly and reli- (page 148) ideas that help the homemaker with every facet of domestic life today. No area of home ably around the country and enabling migration from New England farms to urban Katharine Graham, pub- life is omitted, from cooking and sewing to gardening and entertaining. Nor is anyone at areas and westward to unsettled territories. The railroad boom in the s and s lit- lisher of the Washington home left out, from babies to wedding couples to grandparents at family gatherings. As erally transformed the nation’s landscape and provided the fast, regular transportation Post newspaper and founder and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., Martha has turned domes- needed to distribute a high volume of goods beyond local markets. The railroads that owner of the Washington ticity into very big business. were first built in the s and s supplemented water-borne transportation and be Post Company  E n t e r p ri s i n g Wo m e n Wo me n Ta k e C h a r g e , 1 9 6 0 – 2 0 0 0 
  5. 5. Pinkham was not the first to market an herbal remedy to women in the Boston area. “If the men had some of the energy of that . . . lady, . . . In the s, one Mrs. Elizabeth Mott built a women’s-health business that combined California would have been a prosperous state.” bathing, mild exercise, and herbal remedies with frank and practical medical advice. Her book, Ladies’ Medical Oracle: or Mrs. Mott’s Advice to Young Females, Wives, and Mothers, provided Juana Briones women with information on gynecological problems in a language that they under- stood, while her therapeutic system of European Vegetable Medicine and her Medicated hough she never learned to read, Juana Briones (ca. T –; seen at right in a drawing by Robert Gebing) Shampoo Baths offered women a regimen of hydropathy and botanical therapeutics.22 A half-century later, Pinkham followed in this tradition of marketing women’s was a shrewd businesswoman. In the s, as the first health. She took the traditional female approach, relying on herbs, cooking, and healing female householder in Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, to carve a niche in the male-dominated field of medicine. Still, she adopted bold mar- she took advantage of the commercial opportunities avail- keting practices to build her business. Officially launched with the registration of her able to her in this pioneer community. Since her husband label and trademark with the United States Patent Office in , the Lydia E. Pinkham drank rather than provided for his family, Briones’s com- Medicine Company was a one-product enterprise built around Pinkham’s Vegetable mercial endeavors enabled her to support herself and her Compound. The business began modestly, with Pinkham preparing the medicine at children. She raised cattle, sold produce, ran a tavern, and home as she always had done. From her local suppliers of botanical roots and herbs, she provided tailoring services—all valuable commodities and care to anyone who sought purchased the ingredients—unicorn root, life root, black cohosh, pleurisy root, and fenu- commercial services for the region’s settlers as well as her help, regardless of greek seed—all of which were believed to alleviate gynecological problems from painful sailors docked in San Francisco Bay. their financial menstruation to the threat of miscarriage. In her kitchen, Pinkham measured, In , Briones left her husband. For three hundred circumstances. She soaked, and mixed the herbs, percolated them in cloth bags, added dollars, she purchased La Purisma Concepcion, a rancho in sheltered sailors from approximately  percent alcohol as a preservative, and then strained the what is now Palo Alto, in Santa Clara county (see map, impressment and cared liquid into glass bottles. While the Pinkhams were active temperance above right). While the previous owner had been unable for indigent Indian chil- advocates, Pinkham included alcohol in her Vegetable Compound to manage the land, Briones turned the impressive tract of dren, but demanded their because she believed it was therapeutically useful as well as a nec- , acres into a thriving rancho, where she raised cattle labor in return. Loved for her essary preservative. In the midst of the growing temperance cru- and horses and farmed the land. Moreover, in an age when charity, she was deeply admired sade, even the influential Woman’s Christian Temperance Union most of the Californios—as the original Hispanic inhabi- for her accomplishments. As one agreed. tants of Northern California were then known—lost their sailor explained: “If the men had some of the energy of In addition to preparing the Vegetable Compound, Pinkham land, Briones protected her land with patents from the that buxom, dark-faced lady, California would have been a was a master at public relations (colorplate ). As a married woman United States, which also enabled her to sell and lease her prosperous state, even before it was annexed.” 1 S who survived childbirth five times, she understood firsthand land at will. women’s most intimate fears about their health. She encouraged Briones blended kindness with a hard-driving will to 1 Florence M. Fava, Los Altos Hills: the Colorful Story. Woodside, Calif.: her customers to write to her about their health problems, and dili- succeed. She was a skilled midwife, who provided medical Gilbert Richards Publications, , pp. –. gently answered their letters, responding frankly to intimate questions about Ledgers from the Lydia E. women’s physiology and health. Her message was simple and appealing: women held Pinkham Company and the key to their own health. All they needed to do was adopt a healthy regimen of mild packaging for Pinkham’s underestimated, for trains radically transformed the distribution of goods and markets. exercise, a nutritious diet, and hygiene; wear loose-fitting clothing; and take her Veg- Vegetable Compound They provided dependable year-round transportation unavailable on roads and rivers, etable Compound when needed. and they opened new markets, linking previously unreachable parts of the country. For Pinkham’s advice connected her to the broad popular health movement of the day, Lukens, the railroads enabled her to transport her iron plate faster and farther. Orders which sought alternatives to the harsh therapeutics and surgical practices of regular came in from Boston, Baltimore, Albany, New York City, and even New Orleans. The rep- doctors. More specifically, her advice placed her squarely within the tradition of utation of her iron mill expanded as she increasingly supplied the iron plate for locomo- nineteenth-century women’s health reform. Her message echoed the views of women’s tives and steamboats. By the mid-s, Lukens had staked out her position at health advocates, including female doctors, nurses, educators, and social reformers, who  E n t e r p ri s i n g Wo me n Wo me n Ta k e C h a r g e , 1 9 6 0 – 2 0 0 0 

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