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Notable Women of US History

"One woman is worth two men." -Moberg
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Anne Hutchinson
(1591-1643) early champion of religious liberty and free speech, this midwife was put on trial in 1637 for her outspoken views. The Massachusetts General Court found her guilty of sedition and banished her from the colony
Mercy Otis Warren
(1728-1814) Born in Barnstable, MA, she is sometimes called the "conscience of the American Revolution" The wife and sister of patriot leaders (James Warren and James Otis) she wrote several pro-American plays after 1772 and eventually, in 1805, published a 3 volume "History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution"
Phyllis Wheatley
(1753-1784) One of the best known poets of the revolutionary period, she was born on the western coast of Africa and kidnapped when she was seven. She was transported to Boston where she was purchased by a wealthy tailor to work as an attendant to his wife. She learned English and was taught to read and write and was soon studying the Greek & Latin classics, astronomy, geography, history, and British literature. In 1773, thirty-nine of her poems were published in London. This is the first volume of poetry to be published by an Afro-American.
Hannah Adams
(1755-1831) historian and the first professional woman writer in the US, she published "A Summary History of New England" in 1799
Deborah Sampson Gannett
(1760-1827) Signing up for the 4th Massachusetts Regiment under a male name, she became the first woman to enlist as an American soldier. After being wounded, she received an honorable medical discharge and, later, a military pension.
Emma Willard
(1787-1870) Foremost 19th century advocate of higher education for women. She founded the Troy Female Academy, an all girls school, where she daringly taught her students science and math and educated hundreds of future teachers. Her efforts on behalf of equal educational opportunities for women helped lead to coeducational school systems
Sacajawea
(c. 17-89-c. 1812) A Shoshone Indian, she was captured by an enemy tribe who eventually sold her to the French Canadian trapper she later married. In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark hired her to help lead them as they explored the western United States. Bringing along her newborn son, she acted as interpreter and guide and was later credited withe the success of the expedition
Sarah Moore Grimke and Angelina Emily Grimke
(1792-1873) and (1805-1879) sisters from a wealthy slave owning family in South Carolina, they were the only white southerners to be leaders in the American Anti-Slavery Society. In an 1838 abolitionist speech before the Massachusetts State Legislature, one of them became the first American woman to address a legislative body. Their work inspired leading women's rights figures
Lucretia Mott
(1793-1880) Ordained Quaker minister and pioneering activist in the women's suffrage movement who addressed the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls. She was also an outspoken abolitionist whose staunch beliefs caused her to boycott all goods produced by slave labor
Sojourner Truth
(c. 1797-1883) A former slave, she became a leading proponent of human rights and a spokesperson for abolition and women's rights. Her question "and ain't I a woman?" posed during a speech before a women's rights convention sought to align the plights of poor and black women with those of white suffragists
Dorothea Dix
(1802-1850) Crusader of rights for the mentally ill in North America and Europe, she founded or improved over thirty hospitals for the mentally ill and influenced government legislation with her research. In 1861, she was appointed first Superintendent of US Army Nurses
Margaret Fuller
(1810-1850) Leading female intellectual of her day and auther of the pioneering feminist work "Women in the Nineteenth Century". She edited Ralph Waldo Emerson's paper "The Dial" and, while writing literary and social criticism in Europe for the New York Tribune, became America's first female correspondent
Harriet Beecher Stowe
(1811-1896) Author of the best-seller "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The novel, which first appeared in serialized version in National Era magazine, was the first major American work in which a black man appeared as the central hero. IT had a remarkable impact on pre-Civil War society, and when President Lincoln later met her, he addressed her as "the little woman who made this great war"
Harriet Tubman
(1815-1913) As a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, this fugitive slave helped thousands of blacks escape north prior to the Civil War. During the War, she served as a nurse and a Union spy
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
(1815-1902) Known as one of the foremost figures of the movement for women's equality. Her outrage at being excluded from an anti-slavery convention because of her gender inspired her to co-organize the Seneca Falls convention in 1848. There she drafted the famous Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence. She co-founded the newspaper Revolution, headed the National Women's Suffrage Association and became its first president
Amelia Bloomer
(1818-1894) Social reformer, suffragist, and publisher of the temperance paper The Lily, she was ridiculed by men for the liberated "pants" outfits she popularized
Maria Mitchell
(1818-1889) The first American woman astronomer and the director of the observatory at Vassar College, she was the first female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Lucy Stone
(1818-1893) Pioneering leader in the women's suffrage movement and founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Her 1855 marriage ceremony to Henry Blackwell exemplified her commitment to her cause: the standard promise of obedience was eliminated and, drawing inspiration from the example she and her husband set, the word stoner became a common 19th century word for women who kept their maiden names after marriage
Julia Ward Howe
(1819-1911) Abolitionist, suffragist, and social reformer, she was also a poet whose most famous work became the anthem, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"
Susan B. Anthony
Leader in the American Anti-Slavery Society, she later turned her life's devotion to women's suffrage and founded the National Woman Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was considered a symbol of the suffrage movement and the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote is often referred to as the Anthony Amendment
Mary Baker Eddy
(1821-1910) Founder of Christian Science, the international religious movement which advocates spiritual healing and the belief that the body is governed not by physical cause and effect but by the power of the mind and spirit
Elizabeth Blackwell
(1821-1910) the first American woman to receive a medical doctor degree, she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and co-founded the Women's Medical College in 1868
Clara Barton
(1824-1912) called the "Angel of the Battlefield" for her first aid heroism during the Civil War, she was instrumental in founding the American Red Cross
Antoinette Louisa Brown
(1825-1921) Social reformer, abolitionist, and suffragist, she was the nation's first female ordained minister, one of the first American women to attend college, and an author of books on evolution and social theory
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones
(1830-1930) Labor organizer who championed the cause of social justice and devoted herself to the struggle against the poor hours, pay and working conditions of railroad, textile and mine workers
Helen Hunt Jackson
(1830-1885) The most prominent female historian of the early 19th century. After attending an 1879 lecture by Chief Standing Bear where he described the ill treatment of the Ponca Indians in Nebraska, Jackson began studying American Indian relations, eventually publishing "A Century of Dishonor", calling for a change from the base, selfish policy to a treatment characterized by humanity and justice
Emily Dickinson
(1839-1886) Reclusive poet of hundreds of inventive, original poems, she was the most famous women poet in 19th century America
Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard
(1839-1898) American educator and reformer. She became secretary of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Crusading on behalf of Prohibition, she was elected president of the NWCTU in 1879. She also helped organize the Prohibition party and became president of the National Council of Women in 1890
Mary Cassatt
(1844-1926) renown artist, she introduced Impressionism to America and is famous especially for her paintings and prints of mothers and children
Carry Nation
(1846-1930) Prohibitionist reformer, she gained fame for wielding a hatchet and destroying saloons
Carrie Chapman Catt
(1859-1947) leader in the women's suffrage movement, she was instrumental in achieving voting rights for women in America's West and was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association at the time the 19th amendment was passed. She served as president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and founded the National League of Woman Voters to help teach women to intelligently use their votes
Martha Thomas Carey
(1857-1935) educator long associated with Bryn Mawr College, she was the first female college faculty member in the country to hold the title "dean," started the first graduate program at a women's school, and established the country's first graduate scholarships. She was also founder of the Association to Promote Schientific Research by Women and of the International Federation of University Women
Florence Kelley
(1859-1932) social worker and reformer, graduate of Cornell and Northwestern University Law school. She devoted much of her time to securing protective labor legislation, especially for women and children. She served many years as director of the National Consumer's League, which strove for industrial reform through consumer activity
Annie Oakley
(1860-1926) also called "Lady Sure Shot," this markswoman made a living demonstrating her abilities. She was a star in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and traveled the world, dazzling audiences with amazing feats, most notably shooting the ash off a cigarette held between the lips of Germany's Crown Prince William
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
(1860--1935) writer and lecturer on women's role in society, she was a leading feminist theorist and an instrument of change
Jane Addams
(1860-1935) Co-founder of the Hull House, she was a pacifist, suffragist, advocate of social reform, and, in 1931, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She donated her winnings to The Woman's International League for Peace and Freedom
Ida B. Wells
(1862-1931) black journalist and militant civil rights leader, she was the co-founder of the NAACP and the first president of the Negro Fellowship League
Lillian D. Wald
(1867-1940) American nurse and social worker, she founded the Henry Street Settlement for social work, which she later expanded to include a public-health nursing center. She took a leading role in promoting the establishment of the US Children's Bureau in 1912
Anna Howard Shaw
(1847-1919) became America's first female Methodist minister in 1880. She spoke on various issues such as prohibition and women's rights. Head of the Women's Council of National Defense during WWI
Sarah Breedlove "Madame CJ" Walker
(1867-1919) became the first female black millionaire by selling hair preparations for black women. She founded several factories and beauty colleges and actively supported many charitable and educational institutions
Emma Goldman
(1869-1940) outspoken feminist, pacifist, and anarchist, this lecturer and author founded Mother Earth newspaper and was known for her radicalism in aiding the worlds oppressed
Mary McLeod Bethune
(1875-1955) champion of humanitarian causes and civil rights and education for Blacks. She established Florida's Bethune-Cookman College and served as Director of the Division of NEgro Affairs in the National Youth Administration during FDR's presidency.
Isadora Duncan
(1878-1927) pioneer of modern dance in America and Europe, she elevated dance to an art form practiced by serious artists gained huge popularity for her innovative, expressive style
Margaret Sanger
(1879-1966) crusader for the legalization of birth control, this social reformer battled the nations government and courts to open America's first birth control clinic. Founder of the National Birth Control League and Planned Parenthood of America, she later took her campaign to provide safe contraception worldwide and formed the International Planned Parenthood Federation
Helen Keller
(1880-1968) Triumphing over an illness which left her blind and deaf, she went on to graduate from Radcliffe College and become a world famous lecturer, author, and advocate of rights for people with disabilities
Frances Perkins
(1880-1965) social and political reformer, she became the first woman appointed to the New York State Industrial Commission and the first woman member of a US Cabinet, heading the Department of Labor
Jeanette Rankin
(1880-1973) the first female elected to the House of Representatives. A Republican from Montana, she campaigned on a platform of peace and voted against the US entry to WWI
Elanor Roosevelt
(1884-1962) political and social reformer, humanitarian, and outspoken crusader, this First Lady championed causes of social justice worldwide as a UN delegate, and chaired the UN commission on Human Rights
Alice Paul
(1885-1977) organized the 1913 women's marches through Washington, D.C. and founded the Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage, a militant branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association
Georgia O'Keeffe
(1887-1986) known as the greatest American woman artist of the 20th century, her iconoclastic paintings are noted for their lyrical use of abstract color and shape in depicting flowers, nature, and the American landscape
Marian Anderson
(1897-1993) the first black to become a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company, she pushed aside racial discrimination to achieve world wide fame. In 1939, she made history when she scheduled a concert at Washington D.C.'s Constitution Hall but was blocked by the hall's owners, the Daughters of the American Revolution. In response, Elanor Roosevelt publicly resigned from that organization and a public concert at the Lincoln Memorial was arranged instead. It became a symbol of justice and hope
Martha Graham
(1894-1991) the most influential 20th century choreographer, she revolutionizes the medium through her use of American themes and original scores. Her innovative choreography, expressing raw emotion and inner tension, often incorporated Asian dance, Greek mythology, and Zen philosophy
Amelia Earhart
(1898-1937) first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, she achieved many aviation firsts and set numerous transcontinental records before disappearing in the South Pacific while attempting a flight around the world
Zora Neale Hurston
(1901-1978) novelist, essayist, and playwright associated with the Harlem Renaissance, she also gained fame as an anthropologist of black culture and was the first black to compile a book of African American folklore. Gained much criticism for her novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," because of its focus on the beauty of black culture instead of political advancement
Margaret Mead
(1901-1978) social scientist, environmentalist and spokesperson for social and intellectual issues introduced the world to anthropology. Her research and new techniques of fieldwork revolutionized the field. She served as president of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and curator of Ethnology at the American museum of Natural History
Margaret Bourke-White
(1904-1971) photojournalist who gained fame for her photographs of mill workers and sharecroppers and was famous for her association with Life magazine
Rachel Carson
(1907-1964) her pioneering book, Silent Spring, alerted the country to the dangers of pesticides and had an immediate impact on government regulations. It is widely considered to have started the modern environmentalist movement
Rosa Parks
(1913-2005) she refused to give up her seat on a city bust to a white man and set off a thirteen month bus boycott and a long chain of civil rights protests. She received the title "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement" and went on to continue fighting against racial injustice
Mildred "Babe" Didrikson
(1914-1956) six time winner of the Associated Press "Woman Athlete of the Year" award, competed in baseball, basketball, golf, and billiards on a national level and was a medal-winning track star, swimmer and skater. She won the US Women's Golf Open three times and founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association and won 3 gold medals in track events at the 1932 Olympics
Betty Friedan
(1921-2006) Founder of the National Organization of Women, her 1963 best-seller "The Feminine Mystique" changed women's lives worldwide and is credited with inspiring the start of the modern women's liberation movement
Shirley Chisholm
(1924-2005) The first black woman elected to Congress, she fought hard for the disadvantaged, championing child welfare, job training, healthcare, and education
Maya Angelou
(b. 1928) Pulitzer Prize winning author, poet, and playwright. She was the first black to compose a poem for a presidential inauguration, which she delivered at Bill Clinton's swearing in
Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis
(1929-1994) a cultural icon, she restored the White House and elevated America's image at home and abroad during her years as First Lady. After her husbands assassination, her courage helped support the country in its grief. In her later life, she was admired as a mother, historic preservationist, book editor, and extraordinarily classy fashion icon
Sandra Day O'Connor
(b. 1930) the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, she was chosen by Ronald Reagan in 1981
Dolores Huerta
(b. 1930) co-founder of the United Farm Workers, she remains one of the country's most respected labor leaders. She lead the fight to provide thousands of migrant children social services and the struggle to achieve unemployment insurance, bargaining rights, and immigration rights for farm workers
Toni Morrison
(b. 1931) this African American writer is the second American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature gained fame for her powerful writing on African American issues
Gloria Steinem
(b. 1934) co-founder of the Women's Action Alliance, this journalist and essayist is a leading activist and spokesperson for the contemporary feminist movement
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(b. 1935) the second woman to be appointed to the supreme court, she was confirmed and installed in 1993
Madeline Korbel Albright
(b. 1937) appointed by president Bill Clinton, she was unanimously confirmed as the 64th Secretary of STate. She was the first Secretary of State, which made her the highest ranking female in the history of the US government
Geraldine Ferraro
(b. 1935) Made history when presidential candidate Walter Mondale chose her to become the first female vice presidential running mate
Barbara Jordan
(1936-1996) the first black woman to serve in the Texas Legislature and the first black woman from the South to be elected to Congress where she fought for voting rights, school funding, and the creation of the Consumer Protection Agency. She became the first woman to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention
Billie Jean King
(b. 1943) founder of the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sport Foundation, and Women Sports magazine, this twenty time Wimbledon finalist became the first woman athlete to earn over $100,000 in a single year. She continues to promote equality between male and female athletes
Antonia Novello
(b. 1944) the first woman and the first Hispanic to be appointed US Surgeon General. She led the campaign for stronger warnings on cigarette labels, worked to increase AIDS awareness and fought against alcohol advertisements aimed at children
Wilma Mankiller
(b. 1945) Advocate for American Indian causes, she championed programs for job training, housing, property rights, education and community development and was elected the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation
Candy Lightner
(b. 1946) after her 13 year old daughter died at the hands of a drunk driver, she founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Drunk Driving. Her campaigns have effected tougher drunk driving laws, ensured passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, and led to the establishment of the National Commission on Drunk Driving
Hillary Rodham Clinton
(b. 1947) First Lady of the United States between 1993 and 2001, she is the first past-Fist Lady to seek and win national elective office. In 2008, she became the first woman to run for the democratic candidacy to be the President of the United States
Elaine Lan Chao
(b. 1953) the 24th secretary of Labor, she is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the federal cabinet
Sally Ride
(b. 1951) she became a mission specialist for NASA's space program and, in 1983, she became the first American woman to fly in space
Condoleezza Rice
(b. 1954) Replacing Collin Powell as Secretary of State, she is the second woman to have served in that post
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