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Women of Mercury
13 Topic of TWU’s Women in Aviation Symposium Oct. 7
They dreamed of becoming astronauts. They passed all the physical
and psychological tests. Yet, they were denied the opportunity
to go into space for one reason – they were women.
Known as the Mercury
13, the experience of these women pilots in 1961 is the focus
of Texas Woman’s University’s Second Biennial
Women in Aviation Symposium Oct. 7.
Stars, The Women of Mercury 13” features a panel discussion
with four of the Mercury 13 – Wally Funk, Irene Leverton
and Jerri Truhill. Margaret Weitekamp, curator of the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum and author of “Right Stuff,
Wrong Sex: America’s First Women in Space Program,”
will moderate the panel discussion with book signings and
a luncheon to follow.
The symposium will
begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 in the MCL auditorium located
on Bell Avenue on TWU’s Denton campus. Admission for
the panel discussion is free and no reservations are required.
However, tickets for the luncheon must be purchased in advance
by calling (940) 898-2133. The luncheon begins at noon and
costs $25 per person, $15 for students. More information about
the symposium can be found at www.twu.edu.
of History and Government and the Friends of the TWU Libraries
are sponsoring the symposium.
In 1961, 13 top
female aviators of their era participated in the same tests
that determined America’s first astronauts – the
Mercury 7. Despite outstanding test results that matched,
or in some cases surpassed the men’s, the Mercury 13
were denied the opportunity to participate in the U.S. space
program because of their gender.
The men of Mercury
7, including John Glenn and Alan Shepard, went on to become
American heroes, garnering tremendous media coverage and inspiring
the movie “The Right Stuff.” Their female counterparts
of the Mercury 13 went back to their lives in relative obscurity
and have only recently been in the spotlight, serving as the
subjects of many books, including Weitekamp’s, and as
the subject of a “Dateline NBC” story in February
1995. That same month, 34 years after they were denied participation
in the U.S. space program, seven of the Mercury 13 witnessed
America’s first female pilot astronaut, Lt. Eileen Collins,
launch the shuttle at Cape Kennedy.
Collection documents milestones in the history of American
women through its collection of letters, diaries, photographs,
manuscripts and books. Established in 1932, the collection
represents the best concentration of resources on U.S. women
in the Southwest and includes an archive of Women in Aviation
and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and Whirly-Girl
collections. More information about TWU’s Woman’s
Collection can be found at www.twu.edu/library/woman/.
Amanda McKeen Simpson
Director of News and Information
Tel: (940) 898-3456