Monday, May 4, 2009

First American Woman Driver to Obtain A License - 1900

Yesterday I visited the town of Concord, near Boston, with my book discussion group. We had all read an interesting book about the great writers and thinkers who lived in Concord in the 1800's - Ralph Waldo Emerson, HD Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. We wanted to visit their homes and then discuss the book, American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. First we visited the Alcott's home, and the Emerson's home. At the Alcott's home, we had women tour guides who played the roles of friends and family who would have been at the home in the 1860's. There was even a young lady, dressed in traditional costume, playing the harp.

What does this have to do with women driving you ask? One of us wanted to visit the graves of the famous Concord authors, which are all on the same hill in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It's known as Authors' Ridge, and is definitely worth a visit. As we walked into the cemetery, we came across a sign pointing to the grave site of Anne Rainsford French Bush. She was born in 1878 and died in 1962. She is believed to be the first American woman to have a driver's license. According to records, she was granted a license on March 22, 1900. The type of license she was granted was for a "Steam Engineer's License, Locomobile Class".

Who will be the first Saudi women to get a Saudi driver's license? Since Saudi women are so modest, I doubt anyone will step forward to claim that achievement. Yet I hope that one day, those who get the first licenses will find their sons and daughters, and their grandsons and granddaughters, bragging about their courage.

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