In the summer of 1894, a young wife and mother named Annie Cohen Kopchovsky hopped on a bicycle at the Massachusetts State House and set out to circle the world. She had with her a change of clothes, a pearl-handled revolver, and “boundless chutzpah.”
Why was Annie leaving her three small children and her traditional role as homemaker to go on this crazy adventure? Because she loved Londonderry Lithia Spring Water.
Well, not exactly. Yes, she did earn the nickname Annie Londonderry, and earned $100 for posing with a bottle of Londonderry’s finest. She also carried advertisements for many different products and got paid to pose for pictures as she travelled across the globe. But her adventure was about much more than sponsorship.
Annie was challenging the norms of what women could do in the 1890’s. She rode from Massachusetts to New York City, then sailed to France and rode through Europe and Asia. She became a spokesperson for women’s equality, Jewish-American immigrants and the women’s suffrage movement. Most daringly, she wore pants instead of a skirt for most of the trip.
Find out more about this literal and figurative trailblazer on a new episode of the Travel Channel program Mysteries at the Museum, next airing on Sunday, July 31. See full listings here.
July 22, 2016