Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women (1868), was born in Philadelphia on Nov. 29, 1832, and grew up in New England. An ardent abolitionist, she volunteered in the Civil War as a nurse and served for six weeks (1862-1863) at a Union hospital. (Photo: Nancy Porter Productions, http://www.alcottfilm.com/; Louisa at age 20)
She also wrote Work (1872), an autobiographical novel exposing the exploitation of women workers and the harmful effects of the Industrial Era. Later in life, Alcott became an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Mass., in a school board election. Alcott died in Boston on March 6, 1888, at age 55.
1915: William "Billy" Strayhorn, pianist and composer, and famous for his work in Duke Ellington's band, was born in Dayton, Ohio, on this date in 1915. His skilled songwriting was demonstrated in such songs as Satin Doll and Take the 'A' Train.
1877: Thomas Edison demonstrated the hand-cranked phonograph, a device that recorded sound on grooved metal cylinders on Nov. 29, 1877. Edison shouted verses of Mary Had a Little Lamb into the machine, which played back his voice.
1814: The London Times becomes the first newspaper to be printed on a mechanical press on Nov. 29, 1814.
1643: Claudio Monteverdi, Italian composer, violinist, singer and Catholic priest, died in Venice. His early Baroque music-drama L'Orfeo (Orpheus, 1607) is one of the earliest works to be called an opera. Like his other operas — The Coronation of Poppea and The Return of Ulysses — L'Orfeo is still staged and recorded today.