Outstanding Women of 1954

Today’s post was written by Laney Stevenson, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park.

In honor of Women’s History Month and with the rousing collective movement for women’s rights and empowerment which has been reignited over the last year, it seems fitting to look back on past recognition of women for their achievements as both a mark of progress and means of appreciation for those that worked to pave a path toward equality and justice. The nine women featured in this post were selected by Mademoiselle Magazine as “Young Women of the Year” for 1954. They were chosen based on “the quality of their performances and the dedication they brought to their chosen fields” which range from politics and science to literature and music.

All of these photographs are from Record Group 306, Records of the U. S. Information Agency, Press and Publications Service, Feature Packets with Recurring Subjects, 1953-1959 (NAID 1105040). The text is taken from captions accompanying each photograph.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn – Theater. The “incomparable technique” of this talented British actress was cited by Mademoiselle, a leading woman’s magazine of the United States, when it named Miss Hepburn one of the “Young Women of the Year.” From a “bit” player on the English stage and screen, she rose to stardom overnight in the United States through the title role in the stage success Gigi, the story of a French adolescent. From that triumph she stepped to another in the motion picture Roman Holiday. “She has, like all great actresses, the ability to bridge the gap between herself and her audience, and to make her innermost feelings instantly known and shared,” says Time Magazine.

Miss Hepburn, born in Belgium of Dutch-Irish ancestry, got early theatrical training when she gave ballet performances (behind locked doors during the Nazi occupation of Holland) to raise money for the resistance movement.

Carmel Carrington Marr

Carmel Carrington Marr – Government. This “Young Woman of the Year” was chosen by Mademoiselle, a leading woman’s magazine in the United States, as an outstanding employee of the U.S. Government. A member of the permanent mission of the United States at the United Nations, Mrs. Marr served as an advisor on the staff of U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., in matters affecting the Far East. She was the first American woman to be appointed to such a post. Mrs. Marr studied political science at Hunter College, in New York City, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national honorary scholastic fraternity. After receiving her law degree in 1948, she practiced law in New York City for five years. Mrs. Marr married Warren Q. Marr, II, a New York City businessman, and at the time, was the mother of two small sons.

Tenley Albright

Tenley Albright – Sports. In 1953, at the age of 17, Tenley Albright became the first woman from the United States to win the World Figure Skating Championship. For this, following her “courageous comeback from poliomyelitis,” she was named one the “Young Women of the Year” by Mademoiselle.

At the age of 11, Tenley Albright suffered the crippling effects of infantile paralysis and it was feared would never walk again. Yet two years later she won the Eastern U. S. junior figure skating championship. The following year she placed second in the Olympic skating contest. One of the seven judges who rendered a unanimous decision in awarding her the 1953 championship said: “She did to figure skating what the world-famous ballerina Pavlova did to ballet.” Miss Albright, who “loves skating for its own sake and not as a profession,” went on to study as a premedical student at Radcliffe College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eugenie Clark

Eugenie Clark – Science. Because of her “substantial contributions” to the science of ichthyology (the study of fish), Dr. Clark was named a “Young Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle.

Before receiving her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1951, Dr. Clark had been awarded three fellowships. She did ichthyological research in the West Pacific Ocean and was the first marine scientist in 70 years to make a comprehensive study of marine life in the Red Sea. The young scientist’s then recent best-selling book, Lady with a Spear, has been called by a colleague, “one of the most illuminating glimpses ever given into the everyday life of a marine scientist.” Dr. Clark, who was part Japanese, married a Greek-born doctor, Iliss Konstantinu, and had a small daughter.

Ilona Karmel

Ilona Karmel – Literature. Her accomplishment and promise as a novelist brought Miss Karmel one of the awards as a “Young Woman of the Year.” This young Polish author reached the United States in 1948, speaking very little English. Within four years, two of her short stories in English were contest winners, and she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national scholastic honorary fraternity. Her first novel, “Stephanie,” which was written while Miss Karmel was still a college student, received wide public and literary acclaim when it was published in 1953. It is drawn from her own two-year experience in a Swedish hospital, where she began the study of English through a correspondence course. Miss Karmel’s first book, a volume of poems in Polish, was written in a Nazi concentration camp when the author was a young girl. When named “Young Woman of the Year,” Karmel was a teaching fellow at Harvard University, workking on a second novel.

Ceevah M. Rosenthal

Ceevah M. Rosenthal – Social Work. “Resourcefulness in the field of social work and her outstanding contribution to the welfare of epileptics” brought Miss Rosenthal an award as one of the “Young Women of the Year.” After graduating from college and from the New York School of Social Work, Miss Rosenthal was working at the Columbia University Neurological Institute when she became interested in the problems of epileptics. She organized the Committee for the Rehabilitation and Research in Epilepsy and on her own initiative obtained financial support and stimulated the development of a comprehensive program for victims of this chronic nervous disorder. The first organization of its kind in the United States, it combined medical treatment, research, vocational training, and social readjustment.

Rosalind Wiener

Rosalind Wiener – Politics. As one of the most dynamic newcomers to political life in the United States, Miss Wiener was named a “Young Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle. In 1953, with the support of only one newspaper, she organized her friends and conducted a whirlwind campaign that resulted in her election to the City Council of Los Angeles, California, at the time, the fourth largest city in the nation. She represented 160,000 constituents.

Miss Wiener, at the age of 23, was the youngest person ever elected to the Los Angeles Council where she was chairman of one committee and a member of two others. Serving on what was said to be the only legislative body that meets regularly five days a week, she worked 9 to 10 hours a day and averaged nine speaking engagements a week. “Politics is something everybody must take more interest in if we are ever going to get any place,” Miss Wiener believes. She hopes to continue in that field.

Maria Callas

Maria Callas – Music. Citing her “miraculous artistry,” Mademoiselle named this operatic soprano one of its “Young Women of the Year.” Although born in the United States of Greek parents, Miss Callas has been heard there only on records, which include three of her most famous roles in Tosca, I Puritani, and Lucia di Lammermoor. Starting her musical education in Greece, she made her debut at the age of 15 in the Royal Opera House in Athens. Miss Callas has since sung in Italy, England, Mexico, and in South America.

Now a star at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, she is “the most talked-about prima donna in Europe,” according to the U.S. magazine Newsweek. Miss Callas was married to Giovanni Battista Meneghini, an Italian businessman.

Lorraine Budny

Lorraine Budny – Fashion. One of the better known young fashion designers in the United States, Mrs. Budny was selected by the editors of Mademoiselle Magazine as one of the “Young Women of the Year.” Mrs. Budny was cited for “her wonderful feeling for fabrics,” as well as for her innovations in styling – such as the square “keg” jacket, the use of rib knit trimming on tweeds and jerseys and other fashion “firsts.” After serving an apprenticeship with well know designers and women’s stores in New York City, Mrs. Budny became a free-lance designer.

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