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Women's Rowing Stamp

Issued on May 13, 2022

Philadelphia, PA

Location: Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club

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The History of Women Rowing 

The sports world largely excluded women until 1972, when Congress amended federal education law by adding Title IX, which prohibited gender-based discrimination in federally funded education, including athletics. Although some colleges and universities reacted slowly, women pressed them into opening up varsity sports and disbursing funding equitably.

The men’s teams at some institutions had been racing each other since the mid-19th century, and administrators could not always fathom women in such a strenuous and macho sport — until they started winning big.

The first time they competed in the Olympics, in 1976, the women’s eight-person team won bronze. The team won gold in 1984, the next games in which the United States participated. The team then began a glorious second winning streak in 2004, attaining silver that year and gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Women's Rowing Stamp Ceremony 

Participants at the stamp ceremony were Sophie Socha, president of the Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club, Amanda Kraus, CEO of the United States Rowing Association; Carol Bower, Olympic gold medalist and Bryn Mawr College head rowing coach; Elizabeth Milroy, professor emerita of art history, Wesleyan University; Brannon Johnson, founder and head coach, BLJ Community Rowing; Ann O’Keefe, member of the Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club; Ashley Keough, who sang the national anthem; and Ethel Kessler, the art director for the stamps.

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Brannon Johnson, founder and head coach , BLJ Community Rowing

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 Ashley Keough, senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, sang the national anthem, Elizabeth Milroy, Wesleyan University; Ethel Kessler, USPS stamp art director, Sophia Socha, president of the Philadelphia Girl's Rowing Club (site of the ceremony); Amanda Kraus, US Rowing CEO; Brannon Johnson, founder and head coach , BLJ Community Rowing, Liesel Hud, a rower who competes internationally for the United States

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 Ethel Kessler, USPS stamp art director

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ESPER members attending: Norrece Jones, Betty Sessions, and Jane Mays

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ESPER members attending: Norrece Jones, and Betty Sessions

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ESPER members attending: Norrece Jones, and Betty Sessions getting stamp cancellations. 

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Women Rowing stamp ceremony program

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Mistress of Ceremonies Ann O'Keefe and  ESPER member Betty Sessions and another attendee at the ceremony

(Photos courtesy Don Neal and Betty Sessions)

African Americans in Rowing

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Patricia Spratlen-Etem

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Philadelphia Black Rowing Club

The Power of One- Black Olympians Webinar

DeFrantz captained the U.S. women’s rowing team and rowed in the eight that won a bronze medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. 

America's First African American Rowing Team

Cover of Women Pioneers in Rowing in America

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(Cover courtesy  of  Don Neal) 

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