FYI April 09, 2018


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On This Day

1388 – Despite being outnumbered 16 to 1, forces of the Old Swiss Confederacy are victorious over the Archduchy of Austria in the Battle of Näfels.

The Battle of Näfels was fought on 9 April 1388 between Glarus with its allies, the Old Swiss Confederation, and the Habsburgs. It was a decisive Glarner victory despite being outnumbered sixteen to one.

The Battle of Näfels was the last battle of the Swiss-Austrian conflicts that stretched through most of the 14th Century. A few weeks after the Battle of Sempach on 9 July 1386, the Old Swiss Confederation attacked and besieged the Habsburg village of Weesen on the Walensee.[1] The following year, Glarus rose up against the Habsburgs and destroyed Burg Windegg. Then, on 11 March 1387, the town council declared itself free of Habsburg control.

In response, on the night of 21–22 February 1388, an Austrian army attacked the village of Weesen and drove off the Swiss forces.[1] In the beginning of April, two Austrian armies marched out to cut off Glarus from the rest of the Confederation. The main army, with about 5,000 men, marched toward Näfels under the command of the Graf Donat von Toggenburg and the Knight Peter von Thorberg. A second column, with about 1,500 men under the command of Graf Hans von Werdenberg-Sargans, marched over the Kerenzerberg Pass.[1]

Battle of Näfels
On 9 April 1388 the main army, under Toggenburg and Thorberg, attacked and captured the fortifications around Näfels. The garrison, comprising about 400 Glarner troops and a few dozen troops from both Schwyz and Uri, held out for a short time, but was forced to withdraw into the hills. As they retired, the Austrian army spread out to plunder the villages and farms. The Glarners now emerged from the snow and fog to take the Austrians by surprise as they were preoccupied with looting.[1][2]

Following a brief battle, the disorganized Austrians broke and fled toward Weesen, but the collapse of the bridge over the Maag or Weeser Linth dropped much of their army into the river where they drowned. Seeing the destruction of the main column, Werdenberg-Sargans’ army retreated to the village of Beglingen (now in the municipality of Mollis). The Glarner and Confederation army had about 54 men killed, who were buried at the parish church of Mollis. Habsburg losses are less well known, though are estimated to be between several hundred killed[1] and 1,700.[2] On 29 November 1389, the Abbot Bilgeri had about 180 bodies moved from the battle field and reburied at Rüti Abbey in the choir of the present Rüti Reformed Church.

In 1389, a seven-years’ peace was signed at Vienna, leaving the Confederation in undisputed possession of all the territory it had acquired in the recent war. In the same year, the first Näfelser Fahrt, a pilgrimage to the site of the battle was held. This pilgrimage, which still occurs, happens on the first Thursday in April and is in memory of the battle. The pilgrimage played an important role in the creation of the unified canton of Glarus.[1]

See also
Battles of the Old Swiss Confederacy

Born On This Day

1921 – Mary Jackson, African American mathematician and aerospace engineer (d. 2005)

Mary Winston Jackson (April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) was an African American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She worked at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for most of her career. She started as a computer at the segregated West Area Computing division. She took advanced engineering classes and in 1958 became NASA’s first black female engineer.

After 34 years at NASA, Jackson had earned the most senior engineering title available. She realized she could not earn further promotions without becoming a supervisor. She accepted a demotion to become a manager of both the Federal Women’s Program, in the NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and of the Affirmative Action Program. In this role, she worked to influence both the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, engineering, and mathematics careers.

Jackson’s story features in the non-fiction book Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016). She is one of the three protagonists in Hidden Figures, the film adaptation released the same year.

Personal life
Mary Winston was born on April 9, 1921, to Ella (née Scott) and Frank Winston.[1] She grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she graduated from the all-black George P. Phenix Training School with highest honors.[2]

Mary Jackson earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physical science from Hampton Institute in 1942.[3][4] She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha.[3]

Jackson served for more than 30 years as a Girl Scout leader.[2] She was noted in the 1970s for helping African American children in her community create a miniature wind tunnel for testing airplanes.[4][5][2]

Jackson was married with two children. Their names are Levi Jackson Jr. and Carolyn Marie Lewis. She was married to Levi Jackson Sr. [4] She died on February 11, 2005, aged 83.[3]

After graduation, Jackson taught mathematics for a year at a black school in Calvert County, Maryland.[2] At that time public schools were still segregated across the South. She also began tutoring high school and college students, which she continued to do throughout her life.[6]

By 1943, she had returned to Hampton, where she became a bookkeeper at the National Catholic Community Center there. She worked as a receptionist and clerk at the Hampton Institute’s Health Department; she returned home for the birth of her son. In 1951 she became a clerk at the Office of the Chief, Army Field Forces at Fort Monroe.[2][6]
In 1951 Jackson was recruited by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).[4][5][7] She started as a research mathematician, or computer, at the Langley Research Center in her hometown of Hampton, Virginia. She worked under Dorothy Vaughan in the segregated West Area Computing Section.[2]

In 1953 she accepted an offer to work for engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki in the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. The 4 by 4 foot (1.2 by 1.2 m), 60,000 horsepower (45,000 kW) wind tunnel used to study forces on a model by generating winds at almost twice the speed of sound.[2] Czarnecki encouraged Jackson to undergo training so that she could be promoted to an engineer. She needed to take graduate-level courses in mathematics and physics to qualify for the job. They were offered in a night program by the University of Virginia, held at the all-white Hampton High School. Jackson petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to attend the classes. After completing the courses, she was promoted to aerospace engineer in 1958, and became NASA’s first black female engineer.[8][5][2] She analyzed data from wind tunnel experiments and real-world aircraft flight experiments at the Theoretical Aerodynamics Branch of the Subsonic-Transonic Aerodynamics Division at Langley.[4] Her goal was to understand air flow, including thrust and drag forces, in order to improve United States planes.[4]

Jackson worked as an engineer in several NASA divisions: the Compressibility Research Division, Full-Scale Research Division, High-Speed Aerodynamics Division, and the Subsonic-Transonic Aerodynamics Division.[6] She ultimately authored or co-authored 12 technical papers for NACA and NASA.[6][9][10][11] She worked to help women and other minorities to advance their careers, including advising them how to study in order to qualify for promotions.[12]

By 1979, Jackson had achieved the most senior title within the engineering department. She decided to take a demotion in order to serve as an administrator in the Equal Opportunity Specialist field. After undergoing training at NASA Headquarters, she returned to Langley. She worked to make changes and highlight women and other minorities who were accomplished in the field. She served as both the Federal Women’s Program Manager in the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and as the Affirmative Action Program Manager, and she worked to influence the career paths of women in science, engineering, and mathematics positions at NASA.[2][12] She continued to work at NASA until her retirement in 1985.[3]

The 2016 film Hidden Figures recounts the NASA careers of Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, specifically their work on Project Mercury during the Space Race. The film is based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. Jackson is portrayed in the film by Janelle Monáe.[13]

In 2018 the Salt Lake City School Board voted that Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City would from then on be officially named after Mary Jackson rather than (as it used to be) after President Andrew Jackson.[14]

Awards and honors
Apollo Group Achievement Award, 1969[2][6]
Daniels Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to Disadvantaged Youth[6]
National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Service to the Community[6]
Distinguished Service Award for her work with the Combined Federal Campaign representing Humanitarian Agencies, 1972[6]
Langley Research Center Outstanding Volunteer Award, 1975[6]
Langley Research Center Volunteer of the Year, 1976[2]
Iota Lambda Sorority Award for the Peninsula Outstanding Woman Scientist, 1976[6]
King Street Community Center Outstanding Award[6]
National Technical Association’s Tribute Award, 1976[6]
Hampton Roads Chapter “Book of Golden Deeds” for service[6]
Langley Research Center Certificate of Appreciation, 1976–1977[6]




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