Today we are remembering strong historical women on International Women’s Day. Dr. Alice Garrigue Masaryková, immediately comes to mind when thinking of courageous historical figures. She was born in 1879 to Tomáš and Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk, the future first president of Czechoslovakia. She attended Charles University in Prague and was one of the first female students at the Faculty of Arts. After earning a degree in philosophy, sociology and history, she continued her studies in Berlin and Leipzig. She received her Doctorate in 1903. Dr. Masaryk then studied at the University of Chicago Social Settlement (UCSS), where she learned about American practices in social work. She returned to Czechoslovakia and worked as a teacher in České Budějovice and Prague, from 1905 to 1910. Dr. Alice Masaryk was one of the founders of the sociological department at the Charles University in Prague in 1911. In 1915, Masaryk was accused of hiding her fathers’ political writings and detained for eight months in a prison in Vienna. In 1919, Dr. Alice Masaryk was one of the first women elected as members of parliament of the Czechoslovakian Republic founded on October 28, 1918 and headed by her father Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk as the first president.
In 1919, she founded the Czechoslovak Red Cross, serving as its President for the following two decades. When her mother died in 1923, Masaryk replaced her as the official representative and was considered the First Lady of the new Republic. The German occupation forced Dr. Alice Masaryk into exile in the United States. Although, she tried to return to Czechoslovakia after World War II, she returned to the United States after her brother was found dead in 1948. She remained politically involved in the campaign for a democratic Czechoslovakia until her death in 1966.