Al Raddi's Blog

03 Apr 2020

Olive Byrne, the Marstons, and Wonder Woman

National Coin Week | Al Raddi

Mary Olive Byrne (February 19, 1904 to May 19, 1985) was the daughter of Ethel Byrne a nurse and Progressive Era activist who opened the first birth control clinic with her older sister Margaret Sanger. As a teen, Olive Byrne was strongly influenced by her aunt Margaret whose actions, speeches and writings promoted sex education, birth control, eugenics and free speech.

Byrne studied psychology at Tufts University where she met Professor William Moulton Marston. Marston was a psychologist and a lawyer, and he and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston, also a psychologist and lawyer, were interested in the correlation between systolic blood pressure and deception and developed a systolic blood pressure test used to detect deception that was the predecessor of the lie detector test.

Shortly after graduation, Byrne became the domestic partner of the Marstons. Under the guise of a widowed sister-in-law, she "married" both William and Elizabeth and, to symbolize this polyamorous relationship, wore wide-banned bracelets on both wrists.

William Marston embraced the educational potential of comic books and in 1941 he created a female super-hero inspired by Olive Byrne and Elizabeth Marston named "Wonder Woman". Wonder Woman was a native of a secret island nation inhabited by Amazons who became a crime-fighting U.S. government agent, deflecting bullets with her indestructible bracelets, forcing villains to submit and tell the truth with her Lasso of Truth and personifying the era's unconventional, liberated woman.



Level 6

That was a fascinating blog. These three people were WAY ahead of their time. Eugenics took a big hit after the Nazi's. I like the bracelet link too. I can't really imagine living their life style back then. Must have been academically shunned. Very Well done. Great pics as well. Thanks..


Level 6

@Al Raddi Any artwork signed by Martin Nodell?

Al Raddi

Level 4

I think I have a simple lantern drawn and signed by him, but I'd have to look in my files as it's not framed.


Level 5

Very interestig history on Wonder Woman and how the character was created. The wide band bracelets are a interesting part of the story. Thanks for posting.


Level 6

there is a great movie called "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women" that delves heavily into the trios interesting life. A must see while we are all confined to our home movie theaters. BTW- I am a huge comic book fanboy, I went to the famous San Diego Comic Con 15 years straight, it is the coolest place I have ever been.

Al Raddi

Level 4

In addition to coin and stamp collections, I have a nice collection of framed Green Lantern comic book art that I'm getting ready to sell.


Level 7

Thanks dor the rite up it was interesting. Im not a fan of colirized xoins but thsre is a market fir them. Thaks. Mike Byrns

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