Women with attitude

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Women's rights and roles have advanced significantly in the 20th century. The Victorian view of women as "the weaker sex" has increasingly given way to the idea that men and women are equal. But the breaking down of gender stereotypes began long before the 1970s.

Look at these photographs: a 1906 women's basketball team, early women environmentalists meeting with John Muir, a teenage girl learning to fly in 1939.

Women have always been active participants in American society, but they haven't always been visible. Our thanks to the Monitor readers who sent us these photos, for bringing these women - and other women with "attitude" - to light.

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1) ELKO, NEV. - SUMMER 1939 Photographer: Joel Skelton Velma Skelton, 12, and her 14-year-old brother, Noble, stand in front of a biplane before their first flying lesson. Neighbor Lloyd Swett was their teacher. Photo courtesy of Velma Groppi, ne Skelton.

2) YOSEMITE, CALIF. - 1905 Photographer unknown American naturalist John Muir sits amid a group that had traveled by stagecoach to Yosemite National Park in California, which had become a national park in 1890. The photo was presented to Emily Owen by Grace Van Arsdale when Emily married Muir's great-nephew Harry Owen. (Grace is standing on the far left next to her husband, Henry,)

3) REDWOOD FALLS, MINN. - 1961 Photographer: Edythe Peterson Pam Peterson, the photographer's daughter, stands behind her friend Jane Scholl, both age 2. Pam and Jane are still friends today.

4) LEWISTON, MAINE - 1906 Photographer unknown Louisa Alcott Watkins (back row, left, in photo above) poses with her teammates on the Bates College Girls Basketball Team. Bates has been coeducational since 1863. Photo courtesy of Alice Nute, Louisa's daughter.

5) BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO - 1918 Photographer: Percy Pitney Lily Pitney stands with a line of muskellunge she and her husband, Percy, caught in Lake Ontario. They often fished together. It could take up to an hour to land one of these lunkers. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Pitney, daughter of the photographer.

6) KANSAS CITY, KAN. - FEBRUARY 1967 Photographer unknown This was the first time women as young as 19-1/2 could graduate from the TWA Training Center for airline stewardesses. Photo courtesy of Marsha Morgan Maupin (front row, second from left).

7) HONOLULU - Oct. 20, 1936 Photographer: Joe Akana Bettina Bennett (left, on the shoulders of 'Dutchie') was a dancer doing four shows a day in prewar Hawaii. She and her fellow entertainers spent free mornings at the beach, surfing the easy way. Marcella Johnson is on 'Ox'; the third man is unidentified. Photo provided by Betti

*Next month: family portraits. Previous 'Snapshots' features ran July 12 and Aug. 31. See also: www.csmonitor.com/snapshots.html

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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