Editors Note: This month we are honoring two contemporary women, women whom you will undoubtedly know, both having made their mark in our history. Enjoy!


Born June 26, 1911, Mildred Ella “BABE” Didrikson actually got her nickname rather early in life, playing baseball with neighborhood boys – who thought she batted like Babe Ruth. A talented basketball player as well, her first employer, Employers Casualty Company in Dallas, recruited her to lead the company’s semi-pro basketball team. In 1930 and 1932, she led her team to two finals and a national championship and was voted All-American each season. Further she represented her company as a one-woman team in track/field events in 1932. And Babe Didrikson was on her way to fame, especially securing her place in history. To support her family, Babe turned to professional golf. She did exhibition tours and endorsements, wowing audiences with drives that exceeded 240 yards. She met George Zaharias, a well-known pro wrestler and they married in 1938. Zaharias began managing Babe’s career and she went on to win 17 consecutive tournaments before turning pro in 1947.

Sadly in 1953, Babe was stricken with intestinal cancer, but she triumphed again – despite predictions she would never play championship golf again. She was in tournament competition just 14 weeks after surgery. Golf Writers of America voted her the Hogan Trophy as comeback player of the year and in 1954, she won 5 tournaments, including the US W omen’s Open. In 1955, she and her husband established the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Fund, which financed a tumor clinic at UTMB. She died on September 27, 1956, at the age of 45, and is buried in Beaumont, TX. Babe Zaharias was the most famous female golfer of her time and remains one of the most accomplished female athletes of all time. Her accomplishments are legendary: voted Athlete of the Year 6 times; winner of every woman’s golf title; 3-time US W omen’s Open winner; 4-time World Champion. She established a national audience for w omen’s golf and was the first woman ever to serve as a resident professional at a golf club.


Best known as the author of the 1962 book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson seems to be an unlikely candidate to start an environmental uprising. She grew up in the small town of Springdale. PA, and entered Chatham College in 1929 with every intention of becoming a writer. Soon, however, she became interested in marine biology, using her creative writing abilities to complement her scientific writing. She received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University, graduating in 1932. IN 1936, RACHEL BECAME THE FIRST WOMAN TO TAKE AND PASS THE CIVIL SERVICE EXAM, and began her long career with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and eventually became Editor-in-Chief of all their publications. Her second book, The Sea Around Us, stayed on the NY Times Bestseller list for 86 weeks. Rachel became interested in the use of chemical pesticides after a friend sent her a letter reporting a large number of birds were dying on Cape Cod as a result of DDT sprayings.

This interest was the impetus for her 1962 book, Silent Spring, a work describing how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of all animals (including we human beings), causing cancer and genetic damage. Her work ignited a firestorm of controversy, particularly criticism from chemical companies. Rachel, however, was prepared for opposition and had included in her book 55 pages of notes and a list of scientists who had read and approved her manuscript. President Kennedy read her book and was influenced by it and as a result the President’s Science Advisory Committee thoroughly vindicated both Silent Spring, and its author! As we are aware, DDT soon came under much closer government supervision and was eventually banned.

Rachel Carson died in 1964, after a long battle with breast cancer. Her work has shown a skeptical public that nature is vulnerable to human intervention. Her courage and dedication launched a greater environmental awareness that continues to this day. Rachel Carson’s life continues to inspire new generations to protect the living world and all its creatures.


Do you appreciate hearing real stories like this from real women? There’s strength and support in numbers —join Plaid for Women to connect with real women just like you!