Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley 100 Days of 100 Famous Women in History
Mary Jenkins, 1879-1967
Founder Zonta International
Mary Jenkins was born in 1879 in Syracuse, NY to Arthur Jenkins, founder of the Herald newspaper. In 1903, at the age of 24, she inherited the newspaper from her father and became president of The Herald Company. “Born with printer ink in her veins,” Jenkins was a pioneering Syracuse newspaperwoman and civic leader. She was president of the newspaper until her retirement in 1957, and was quoted as having made “one of the longest contributions to continuous newspaper service in the history of New York State.”
She helped found Zonta International in 1919 in order to bring together women who had occupied important positions during the First World War. The organization still exists today. Jenkins was elected the first president of the Confederation of Zonta Clubs and the Syracuse Zonta Club, as well as an international charter member from 1919-1921.
She also helped found Syracuse Memorial Hospital, served on the board for 34 years, and was its president for 15 years. Furthermore, she was the first lay member of the Public Health Board of the New York State League of Nursing Education. In 1945, Mary Jenkins received a doctorate of humane letters from Syracuse University. She became an honorary member of the American Hospital Association in 1948. In 1950, the Jewish War Veterans named her “Syracuse’s most outstanding citizen.” Jenkins died in 1967, and is buried next to her husband in Oakwood Cemetery.
Source Onondaga Historical Association
Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910
English Nurse, Social Reformer and Statistician
Nightingale gave nursing a favorable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture.
In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, and is now part of King's College London. In recognition of her pioneering work the Nightingale Pledge, taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honor. Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating hunger relief in India, helping to abolish harsh prostitution laws, and expanding acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.
Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. She was also a pioneer in the use of infographics, effectively using graphical presentations of statistical data.
Nightingale led the first official team of British military nurses to Turkey during the Crimean War between Britain and Russia (1853-56). There, more soldiers died from disease than wounds and Nightingale advised the army medical services on how to reduce avoidable deaths. She was nicknamed ‘the Lady with the Lamp’ for the night rounds she made tending to the wounded and sick. Nightingale continued in her work after the war and was instrumental in establishing a permanent military nursing service and implementing improvements to the armymedical practices.
Source History Extra and Wikipedia
Jane Addams 1860-1935
Addams was an American settlement activist, reformer, social worker, sociologist, public administrator, and author. She stood out in history for her social work and women’s suffrage in the US and an advocate for world peace.
Jane’s accomplishments are many. She co-founded Chicago’s Hull House, one of America’s most famous settlement houses.
In 1910, Jane was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale University, becoming the first to receive an honorary degree from the school. In 1920, she co-founded the ACLU, and in1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the US and is known by many as the first woman public philosopher in the United States.
Jane helped America address and focus on issues concerning mothers, such as the needs of children, local public health, and world peace. Addams became a role model for middle class women who volunteered to uplift their communities.
Hull House and the Peace Movement are widely known as the key tangible pillars of Addams’ legacy. She worked with other reform groups toward goals including the first juvenile court law, tenement house regulations, an eight-hour work day for women, factory inspections, and workers’ compensation.
Margaret Sanger, 1879-1966
Birth Control Advocate
Sanger was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. She popularized the term “birth control,” opened the first birth control clinic in the US, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Sanger used every means she could to promote her way of thinking on “birth control.” She was prosecuted for her book Family Limitation and was forced to flee to Britain to avoid arrest. She soon returned to the US to continue her work. Margaret helped legalize contraception in the United States, but let it be known that she drew a sharp distinction between birth control and abortion.
In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic, which led to her arrest. She wanted to prevent back alley abortions and the only practical way to avoid abortion was the use of contraception.
Margaret enrolled in White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer in 1900. In 1902 she married, had three children, and moved to Westchester, New York.
Sanger’s political interest, feminism and nursing experience led her to write two series of columns on sex education.
In 1948, Sanger helped found the International Committee on Planned Parenthood Federation, which became the world’s largest women’s health, family planning and birth control organization. She was the first president and remained in that role until she turned 80 years old.
Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759-1797
English Philosopher and Advocate
Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. Today, Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and authorities often cite both her life and work as important influences.
During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.
After two ill-fated affairs with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at age 38, eleven days after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Shelley, who would became an accomplished writer and author of Frankenstein.
After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir(1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important.
Marie Curie 1867-1934
Marie Sklodowska Curie changed the world not once, but twice. She founded the new science of radioactivity – even the word was invented by her – and her discoveries launched effective cures for cancer. Curie boasts an extraordinary array of achievements. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (Physics), the first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first person to win a second Nobel Prize (Chemistry).
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Curie studied physics at university in Paris where she met her future research collaborator and husband, Pierre. Together they identified two new elements: radium and polonium, named after her native Poland. After he died, she raised a small fortune in the US and Europe to fund laboratories and develop cancer treatments.
Marie Curie was a woman of action as well as enormous intellect. During the First World War, she helped equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, and often drove them to the front line herself.
Despite becoming ill from the radioactive materials she constantly handled, Curie never lost her determination to excel in the scientific career that she loved. Her memory is preserved by the Cancer Society that bears her name and continues to help terminally ill patients all over the world.
Rosa Parks 1913-2005
Civil Rights Activist
In 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American living in Montgomery, Alabama, challenged race segregation by refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. Her protest was supported by many other African Americans and sparked the civil rights movement, which, in the 1960s, eventually won equal rights.
Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress in a department store, boarded her bus for home as usual after work. As the bus became crowded, white driver J Fred Blake told Parks and other black passengers to vacate their seats. Segregation laws dictated that white passengers had priority. The blacks duly moved. Except for Parks. She sat silently still. “If you don’t stand up, I’m going to call the police and have you arrested,” Blake shouted at her. “You may do that,” Parks calmly replied. Blake left the bus and returned with two policemen. “Why don’t you stand up?” one of the officers asked Parks. “Why do you push us around?” Parks answered. “I do not know,” said the officer, “but the law is the law and you are under arrest.” She was taken off to the city jail.
Parks’ arrest would lead to a 13-month boycott of city buses in one of the longest mass mobilizations of a black population ever witnessed in the United States. The boycott’s church-based community activism and ministerial leadership, together with its spirit of non-violence, would become hallmarks of the civil rights movement over the next decade.
Rosalind Franklin, 1920–1958
Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognized posthumously.
She is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA, particularly Photo 51. It is an X-ray picture showing a dark cross of dots, the signature image of a concealed molecular spiral.
This led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1962. Watson suggested that Franklin would have ideally been awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Wilkins, but the Nobel Committee generally does not make posthumous nominations.
After finishing her work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work at Birkbeck on the molecular structures of viruses. Her team member Aaron Klug continued her research, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.
The life-changing innovations that followed – mapping the human genome, test-tube babies, genetic engineering – all depend on understanding the chemical foundations of heredity.
Sandra Day O’Connor1930-present
US Supreme Court Justice
O’Connor is a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States who served from 1981 until she retired in 2006. Appointed by President Reagan, she was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Prior to her tenure on the Supreme Court, she was a judge and an elected official in Arizona, serving as the first female Majority Leader of the Arizona State Senate.
Sandra was born in El Paso, Texas. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, but spent most of her young life living with her grandmother in El Paso where she attended school. O’Connor went to Stanford University where she received her B.A. in economics. She continued at Stanford Law School and got her law degree in 1952.n 1952 she married John Jay O’Connor III and had three sons. Sandra served as assistant Attorney General, was elected to the Arizona State senate, served on the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the court of Appeals-Division One until 1981.
Sandra’s husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly 20 years until his death in 2009. Ironically in 2018, Sandra was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s-like dementia.
O’Connor once said, “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone. Whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life - all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that create something.”
Emmeline Pankhurst 1858-1928
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and organizer of the British suffragette movement that helped women win the right to vote.
She was widely criticized for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.
In 1903, Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union to campaign for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian Britain, ‘Deeds, not words’ being its motto. It became known for physical confrontations: its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists received repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions, and were often force-fed. As Pankhurst's eldest daughter, Christabel took leadership of the WSPU, antagonism between the group and the government grew.
A charismatic leader and powerful orator, Pankhurst roused thousands of women to demand their democratic right in a mass movement that has been unparalleled in British history. Always in the thick of the struggle, she endured 13 imprisonments, her name and cause becoming known throughout the world.
In 1999, Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating "She shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back.”
Joan of Arc 1412-1431
Martyr and Military Leader
Joan of Arc, nicknamed “the Maid of Orleans” is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War.
Joan claimed to have received visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the Siege of Orleans as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII’s coronation. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
On May 23, 1430, Joan was captured by the Burgundian faction, a group of French nobles allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English and put on trial by the pro-English bishop Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After he declared her guilty, she was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 at the age of 19.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century, she became a symbol of the Catholic League and in 1803 was declared a national symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized as a Saint in 1920.
Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses) 1860-1961
Born in Greenwich, New York, Robertson was the third of ten children born to Margaret and Russell King Robertson. She started painting at an early age, using lemon and grape juice to make colors for her landscapes.
At the age of 12 she left home and went to work for wealthy families as domestic help. One family noticed her interest in art and bought her chalk and wax crayons. Anna was on her way!
In 1887 she married. Only five of her ten children survived infancy. Her husband Thomas died in 1927 at the age of 67 and Anna would never marry again.
Grandma Moses would embroider pictures by the hour and she loved to quilt. Arthritis set in and she turned to painting once again, but now full time. She generated over 1,500 canvases in three decades. Everyone enjoyed her down-to-earth paintings; light hearted, optimistic and beautiful. Her paintings could be seen on greeting cards, tiles, fabrics, and ceramics.
Grandma Moses received numerous awards and recognition. In 1955 she even made an appearance on the Edward R Murrow show.
All Americans mourned her death and her paintings will never be forgotten.
Marie Stopes 1880-1958
Advocate of Birth Control & Sex Educator
Marie was a British author, palaeobotanist and campaigner for eugenics and women's rights. She made significant contributions to plant paleontology and coal classification, and was the first female academic on the faculty of the University of Manchester.
Stopes attended the University of London as a scholarship student, where she studied botany and geology. She graduated with a first class B.Sc. in 1902 after only two years by attending both day and night schools. Following this, Stopes earned a D.Sc. degree from University College London, becoming the youngest person in Britain to have done so. She studied the reproduction of living cycads at the University of Munich, receiving a Ph.D. in botany in 1904. She held the post of Lecturer in Palaeobotany at the University of Manchester from 1904 to 1910; in this capacity she became the first female academic of that university.
With her second husband, Humphrey Verdon Roe, she founded the first birth control clinic in Britain. Stopes edited the newsletter Birth Control News, which gave explicit practical advice. Her sex manual Married Love (1918) and a second book titled Wise Parenthood – which dealt explicitly with contraception – appeared shortly thereafter. A controversial figure, especially for her views on eugenics, Stopes nonetheless was a key figure in publicizing her cause. A birth control clinic was set up in a poor working-class area of north London in 1921, bringing to women worldwide the opportunity of planned pregnancies.
Source HistoryExtra & Wikipedia
Queen Victoria 1819-1901
Queen of England
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from June 20, 1837 until her death. On May 1, 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom marked by a great expansion of the British Empire.
She inherited the throne at the age of 18 when her uncle, King William IV, died. In a constitutional monarchy the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, she attempted to influence government policy while publicly; she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria was physically unprepossessing—she was stout, dowdy and only about five feet tall—but she succeeded in projecting a grand image. She experienced unpopularity during the first years of her widowhood, but was well liked during the 1880s and 1890s, when she embodied the empire as a benevolent matriarchal figure. Contrary to popular belief, Victoria was immensely amused and roared with laughter on many occasions.
Through Victoria's reign, reforms of the voting system increased the power of the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarch. By 1867, the monarch only retained "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn.” As Victoria's monarchy became more symbolic than political, it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values.
Ada Lovelace 1815–1852
A gifted mathematician, Ada Lovelace is considered to be the first computer programmer, an industry that has since transformed business, our lives and the world. In an industry still dominated by men, it’s particularly striking that the first programmer was a woman.
Born in the early 19th century to English poet Lord Byron, she had a fascination with science and mathematics that defied the expectations of her class and gender at her time. From age 4, Ada was tutored in math, prompted by her mother’s fear that she should be exposed to her father’s randy antics and moody nature.
Only 12 years old, she conceived a flying machine in the shape of a flying horse with steam powered wings. After being introduced at the age 17 to inventor Charles Babbage, her work with him ensured she would become one of the most important figures in the early history of the computer.
In her thirties, Ada became a compulsive gambler, pawning the family diamonds to pay her debts.
Despite the fact her work was only appreciated posthumously, Ada Lovelace is now regarded as one of the most important figures in the early history of the computer. She had a unique and farsighted understanding into the potential of computers beyond simple number crunching.
Source Wikipedia and Christopher Klein
Anna Jacobson Schwartz 1915-2012
Schwartz is widely acclaimed as the female research economist of the twentieth century, Anna Jacobson Schwartz has been described as “one of the world’s greatest monetary scholars.”
Anna became interested in economics while attending Walton High School. She graduated from Barnard College, and then earned her Master’s Degree in Economics from Columbia University. In 1936, she married Isaac Schwartz and began her professional career with Columbia University’s Social Science Research Council. Schwartz returned to Columbia University and earned a Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz’s first published paper, British Share Prices, 1811-1850, written with Arthur Gayer and Isaiah Finklestein was published in the 1940 issue of The Review of Economics and Statistics. The paper was a precursor to much of her subsequent work, meticulous in the presentation, explanation, and interpretation of data.
In 1941, Dr. Schwartz began a more than seventy-year tenure working for the National Bureau of Economic Research. It was during this time that she met and began working with economist Milton Friedman. Together, the two co-authored A Monetary History of the United States, 1867 – 1960, which was described by Federal Reserve chair, Ben Bernanke, as “The leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history.” The massive study demonstrated that changes in monetary policy have large effects on the economy and blamed a large portion of the Great Depression on the Federal Reserve; it is one of the most widely cited texts in economics today.
In 1981, Dr. Schwartz served as the Executive Director of the United States Gold Commission; the panel was responsible for recommending the future of gold in the nation’s monetary system. In 1988, she became president of the Western Economic Association.
Source National Women's Hall of Fame
Margaret Heafield Hamilton 1936-present
Hamilton is an American Computer Scientist, Systems Engineer and business owner.
She founded two software companies: Higher Order Software in 1976 and Hamilton Technologies in 1986. Margaret has published more than 130 papers about sixty projects and six major programs. She is one of the people credited with coining the term “software engineering”.
After earning a BA in mathematics with a minor in philosophy from Earlham College in 1958, she directed the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which developed on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo Space program. Her team of programmers ran the computers on both the command module and landing module of the Apollo 11 mission. Hamilton never left the earth’s atmosphere, but without her groundbreaking software, it’s unlikely that the American Flag would’ve been planted on the moon in July 1969.
Margaret began her career by developing programs to better predict the weather. She wrote software which helped the military detect enemy planes.
Margaret met her husband James Cox Hamilton at Earlham College and married in the late 1950’s. They had a daughter Lauren. The couple eventually divorced.
On November 22, 2016, Margaret received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
For the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Google unveiled a giant tribute to Hamilton in the California Mojave Desert: more than 107,000 mirrors reflected moonlight to form her image.
Jane Austen 1775-1817
Austen is an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage to pursue favorable social standing and economic security. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humor, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim.
With the publications of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816) she achieved success as a published writer. Her six full-length novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her moderate success, but little fame during her lifetime.
Her posthumous reputation improved in 1833, when her novels were republished and sold as a set. They gradually gained wider acclaim and popular readership. In 1869, fifty-two years after her death, her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced a compelling version of her writing career.
During her lifetime, Austen may have written as many as 3,000 letters, but only 161 survived. Many of the letters were written to Austen's older sister Cassandra, who in 1843 burned the greater part of them and cut pieces out of those she kept. Ostensibly, Cassandra censored her sister's letters to prevent their falling into the hands of relatives who might read Jane Austen's acid or forthright comments.
Mother Teresa 1910-1997
Albanian-IndianRoman Catholic Saint and Missionary
Mother Teresa, born in Albania, was a Roman Catholic nun who lived in India for most of her life. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, which gave free service to the poorest of the poor. The order worked in over 130 countries, serving people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. She set up soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages and schools.
In 1946, Teresa heard the call within the call. "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.” Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa.
She began missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple, white cotton sari with a blue border. After receiving basic medical training, Teresa ventured into the slums.
Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulty. With no income, she begged for food and supplies and experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the comfort of convent life.
Although criticized for her opposition to abortion, her charitable work changed the lives of many of the most vulnerable people in the world.
Pope Frances canonized Mother Teresa on September 4, 2016 at the Vatican.
Ruth Handler 1916-2002
Businesswoman and Inventor
Ruth Handler, famously known for the invention of the iconic Barbie doll, was once president of the toy manufacturer, Mattel, Inc.
In 1938, with her husband Elliot, they formed a furniture business that would eventually supply the Douglas Aircraft Company.
Ruth’s husband and a partner in 1945 created Mattel, Inc. What began as a picture frame manufacturing company slowly transformed into a toy company when its creators began crafting dollhouses out of wooden scraps.
Barbara Handler, Ruth’s daughter, was fond of paper dolls as a child. Ruth soon realized that children frequently preferred to be adults when playing. This gave Ruth the idea to craft an adult doll that was three-dimensional, not paper. The fully formed plastic doll could wear clothing made from real fabric, not the ill-fitting paper clothing used for traditional dolls.
In 1959, Ruth introduced her new doll at the New York toy fair. It was named Barbie, after her daughter. Advertisements ran during The Mickey Mouse Club and sales of the Barbie doll elevated Mattel to success beyond their wildest dreams.
In 1970, Ruth Handler was diagnosed with breast cancer. A modified radical mastectomy was performed to save her life. Consequently, she designed and constructed a realistic breast prosthetic called Nearly Me. With it, she formed the Ruthton Corp and sold her product to cancer survivors around the globe.
The Barbie doll is still one of the most famous and profitable toys for young girls in America and around the world.
Catherine the Great 1729-1796
Empress of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état that she organized, overthrowing her own husband, Peter III. Under her reign, the Russian Empire expanded rapidly.
There were victories over the Ottoman Empire and Russia colonized the territories along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was eventually partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started to colonize Alaska, establishing Russian America.
Catherine reformed the administration of Russian governmentand modernized Russia along Western European lines. Military conscription and the economy continued to depend on serfdom, and increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs. This was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions.
Catherine decided to have herself inoculated against smallpox, controversial at the time. Catherine then sought to have inoculations throughout her realm. By 1800, approximately 2 million inoculations were administered in the Russian Empire.
As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established.
Beulah Louise Henry 1887-1973
Henry was an American inventor in the 1930s, and was given the nickname "Lady Edison.”
Of approximately 110 inventions, she was awarded around 49 patents over her lifetime.
Henry attended North Carolina Presbyterian College and Elizabeth College in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she submitted her first patents. She moved to New York City in 1924, where she devised one of her most popular early inventions, an umbrella with a snap-on cloth cover. This allowed the owner to coordinate the umbrella with clothing. The umbrella led to her appearance in Scientific American magazine as one of their "Outstanding Inventors.” The rights to her popular umbrella cover invention sold for $50,000, which enabled her to set up her own laboratory. She appointed mechanics, model makers, and draftsmen to turn her ideas into prototypes.
She founded two companies: the Henry Umbrella and Parasol Company, and the B. L. Henry Company of New York. Throughout the 1920s, she was awarded patents for a spring-limbed doll and sponges that held soap in the middle. She also designed the machine that produced the sponges.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the patents she received included a double-chain stitch sewing machine, a feeding and aligning device for typewriters, a bobbin-less sewing machine, a number of children´s toys, and another typewriter attachment for duplicating documents.
She preferred to live in New York hotels and never married. Beulah Louise Henry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.
Source People Pill thefamouspeople.com
Margaret Thatcher, 1925–2013
British Prime Minister
Thatcher was the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister, serving from 1979 to 1990. A Soviet journalist dubbed her “the Iron Lady,” a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
She studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, and worked briefly as a research chemist, before becoming a barrister. Thatcher was elected Member of Parliament in 1959. She then was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science. She became Prime Minister after winning the 1979 general election.
Thatcher introduced a series of economic policies intended to reverse high unemployment and Britain's struggles with an ongoing recession. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasized deregulation, flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. Thatcher's popularity in her first years in office waned until victory in the 1982 Falklands War and the recovering economy brought a resurgence of support.
Thatcher was re-elected for a third term in 1987, but her subsequent support for the Community Charge ("poll tax") was widely unpopular, and others did not share her views on the European Community in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990. After retiring in 1992, she was given a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, which entitled her to sit in the House of Lords. In 2013, she died of a stroke at the age of 87.
Elizabeth Fry 1780-1845
Elizabeth Fry was an English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist. She has often been referred to as the "angel of prisons.”
Prompted by a family friend, Fry visited Newgate Prison in 1813. The conditions she saw there horrified her. The women's section was overcrowded with women and children, some of whom had not even received a trial. The prisoners were confined in small cells where they slept on straw.
In 1816, she founded a prison school for the children who were imprisoned with their mothers. In 1817, she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This association provided materials for women so that they could learn to sew patchwork. This allowed skills to develop, such as needlework and knitting, which could offer employment when they were released. She promoted the idea of rehabilitation instead of harsh punishment.
She campaigned for rights of women at Newgate Prison who were transported through the streets of London in open carts, often in chains. She visited prison ships and persuaded captains to implement policies to ensure each woman and child would get a share of food and water on the long journey.
Elizabeth Fry worked with other prominent Quakers to campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. From 2001–2016, Fry was depicted on the reverse of £5 notes issued by the Bank of England.
Mary Shelley 1797-1851
Shelley was an English novelist who also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who died shortly after Mary as born.
When Mary was four, her father married a neighbor, with whom Mary had a troubled relationship.
In 1814, Mary began a romance with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Mary became pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.
In 1816, vacationing in Geneva, Switzerland, Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm. A year later, Mary Shelley entirely devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, most likely caused by the brain tumor, which killed her at age 53.
Her novel Frankenstein, remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels, Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830). Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practiced by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society.
Josephine Butler 1828-1906
Feminist & Social Reformer
In Victorian Britain, Josephine Butler brought into open discussion the double sexual standard that existed in a male-dominated society. She campaigned successfully for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, which provided for the compulsory and regular medical examination of women believed to be prostitutes, but not their male clients. In later life she campaigned against child prostitution and international sex trafficking.
While investigating the effect of the Acts, Butler had been appalled that some of the prostitutes were as young as 12, and that there was a slave trade of young women and children from England to the continent for the purpose of prostitution.
A campaign to combat the trafficking led to the removal from office of the head of the Belgian Police des Mœurs, and the trial and imprisonment of his deputy and 12 brothel owners.
Butler fought child prostitution with help from the campaigning editor of The Pall Mall Gazette, William Thomas Stead, who purchased a 13-year-old girl from her mother for £5. The subsequent outcry led to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 and brought in measures to stop children becoming prostitutes.
Source: Wikipedia & History Extra
Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986
O’Keeffe was an American artist known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes.
She was born in a farmhouse in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to dairy farmers and the second of seven children. At 10 years of age, she had decided to become an artist. She completed high school at Chatman Episcopal Institute in Virginia and graduated in 1905.
In 1905, Georgia started her serious formal training at The Art Institute of Chicago and then moved on the Art Students League of New York. She worked for two years as a commercial illustrator and taught in Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina. She moved to New York in 1918 and began working as a serious artist. She married Arthur Wesley Dow (an art dealer and photographer) in 1924. After her husband’s death, she lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
O’Keeffe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1967 was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1973 she received an honorary degree from Harvard University. In 1977, President Ford presented Georgia with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 1985 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Reagan. After her death, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was established in Santa Fe. In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Georgia’s painting of Jimson Weed sold for $44,405,000, more than three times the previous world auction record for a female artist.
Bessie Coleman 1892-1926
Bessie Coleman was the sixth of 13 children to a family of sharecroppers. Her father was mostly Cherokee and part African-American. At the age of six she began walking four miles each day to attend a segregated one-room school in Waxahachie, Texas. She loved to read and established herself as an outstanding math student. Every year, Coleman’s routine would be interrupted by the cotton harvest. At the age of 18, she took her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University but after one term the money ran out and she returned home.
At 24, she moved to Chicago and worked as a manicurist and heard stories about pilots returning from WW1. She took a second job to save money in hopes of becoming a pilot. After taking a French-language class she traveled to Paris in 1920 and became the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to earn an aviation pilot’s license.
With commercial flight still a decade away, she realized that in order to make a living she would have to become a “barnstorming” stunt flier. She launched her career in exhibition flying in air shows. Billed as “the world’s greatest woman flier, she became known as “Queen Bess.”
She hoped to start a school for African-American fliers but died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing a new aircraft. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to the African-American and Native American communities.
Estée Lauder 1906-2004
Cosmetics company founder
Lauder was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in New York City. The baby's nickname became "Estee,” the name she would grow up using. Eventually, when she launched her perfume empire, she added an accent mark to make her name sound French.
Much of her childhood was spent trying to make ends meet. She worked at the family's hardware store, where she got her first taste of business. When Lauder grew older, she agreed to sell creams, lotions, rouge, and fragrances for her uncle Dr. John Schotz, and his company New Way Laboratories. After graduating from high school, she focused on her uncle's business.
Lauder named one of her uncle's blends Super Rich All-Purpose Cream and began selling the preparation to her friends, clubs, and resorts. One day, as she was getting her hair done, the salon's owner asked Lauder about her perfect skin. Soon, Estée returned to the beauty parlor to hand out her uncle's creams and demonstrate their use. The owner was so impressed that she asked Lauder to sell her products at her new salon.
In 1953, Lauder introduced her first fragrance, Youth-Dew bath oil that doubled as a perfume. In the first year, it sold 50,000 bottles; by 1984, the figure had risen to 150 million.
Estée Lauder's Clinique brand became the first women's cosmetic company to introduce a second line for men, which continues to be sold at Clinique counters worldwide.
Sally Ride 1951-2012
US Astronaut & Physicist
Sally Ride became the first American woman to go into space when she flew on the space shuttle Challenger on June 28, 1983. At age 32, Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space.
Sally attended Stanford University, where she was a double major in physics and English. In 1978, Ride was selected to be an astronaut as part of NASA Astronaut Group. She applied after seeing an advertisement in the Stanford student newspaper, and was one of only 35 people selected out of the 8000 applications. After graduating training in 1979, she served as the ground-based capsule communicator for the second and third space shuttle flights, and helped develop the space shuttle's "Canadarm" robot arm.
During a press conference prior to her first space flight, she was subject to media attention due to her gender. She was asked, "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?" Despite this, Ride insisted that she saw herself in only one way—as an astronaut.
After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She worked for two years at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, then at the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching nonlinear optics and Thomson scattering.
She was included in the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
QUOTE: “If we want scientists and engineers in the future, we should be cultivating the girls as much as the boys.”
Sally died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.
Isabella Lucy Bird 1831-1904
Explorer and Writer
Isabella Lucy Bird was born in Yorkshire, England. From early childhood Bird was frail, suffering from a spinal complaint, nervous headaches, and insomnia.
In 1854, the doctors urged a sea voyage to improve her health and her life of traveling began. Bird accompanied her cousins to the United States and wrote bright descriptive letters home, which became the basis for her first book, An Englishwoman in America. She was to become an explorer, writer, photographer, and naturalist.
Bird traveled to Australia and Hawaii, which prompted her second book. She then moved to Colorado. Her letters to her sister were printed in the magazine The Leisure World and comprised her fourth and perhaps most famous book, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.
She traveled to Asia, India, Tibet, and Persia. Featured in journals and magazines for decades, Bird became a household name. In 1890, she became the first woman to be awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and two years later was the first woman allowed to join the Royal Geographical Society. She was elected a member of the Royal Photographic Society.
Her final great journeys took place in 1897 when she traveled up the Yangtze and Han rivers in China and Korea followed by a trip to Morocco where she traveled among the Berbers. She had to use a ladder to mount her black stallion, a gift from the Sultan.
A few months after returning, Bird fell ill and died at her home in Edinburgh.
Hedy Lamarr 1914-2000
American Actress and Inventor
Most people know Hedy Lamarr as an actress but when you mention she was actually an inventor people are shocked.
She was born in Vienna and by the age of 16, dropped out of high school and started acting. When she was 19 years old, she married for the first time. Hedy ended up marrying six times and had three children.
When WWII, started, she wanted to quit acting and help the war effort using her knowledge of munitions and secret weapons, learned from her first husband who was an arms dealer. She wanted to join the National Inventors Council but was told by an inventor, Charles Kettering, that she would be more helpful with the war effort, as a celebrity selling war bonds.
With George Antheil, she helped develop radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, using frequency-hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the axis powers. It is a technique of conducting radio signals by quickly switching a carrier among many frequency channels, using a pseudo random sequence known to both transmitter and receiver.
The two shared a patent for an invention that prevented radio signals being intercepted by the enemy. She received a patent in 1942 for technology that remains fundamental to every cell phone, Bluetooth device, and Wi-Fi network in use today. It wasn’t until the 1990s that she was properly recognized for this. She always said “Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand there and look stupid.”
Cleopatra VII was born in early 69 BC and was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. From her childhood tutor she learned the Greek arts of oration and philosophy.
Her native language was Koine Greek and she was the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language. Aside from Greek, Egyptian, and Latin, she learned many other languages, which reflected Cleopatra's desire to restore North African and West Asian territories that once belonged to the Ptolemaic Kingdom.
Cleopatra ruled as an absolute monarch, serving as the sole lawgiver of her kingdom. She was the chief religious authority, presiding over ceremonies dedicated to the deities of both the Egyptian and Greek polytheistic faiths. She oversaw the construction of temples to Egyptian and Greek gods, a synagogue for the Jews in Egypt, and built the Caesareum of Alexandria.
Cleopatra was directly involved in the administrative affairs of her domain, tackling crises such as famine by ordering royal granaries to distribute food to the starving populace during a drought. Her government attempted to impose price controls, tariffs, and state monopolies for certain goods. It set fixed exchange rates for foreign currencies, and rigid laws forcing peasant farmers to stay in their villages during planting and harvesting seasons.
Cleopatra's legacy survives in ancient and modern works of art. Her ancient depictions include Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, and Ptolemaic coinage, Roman sculptures, busts, and paintings, as well as reliefs and cameo glass and carvings.
Clara Barton 1821-1912
American Red Cross Founder
Clara Barton was born in 1821 in Massachusetts. At 10 years old, she took the task of nursing her brother back to health after the doctors had given up. He fully recovered. Clara was very timid but her parents convinced her to become a schoolteacher. She achieved her teacher’s certificate at the age of 17 and was an educator for the next 12 years.
1861, the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the American Civil War. Wanting to help, Barton went to the Washington D.C. railroad station and nursed 40 men. It was then that she began efforts to collect medical supplies for the Union soldiers. She gained permission to go to the front lines in 1862 and worked to distribute stores, clean field hospitals, apply bandages and serve food to the injured soldiers, both Confederate and Union.
After the end of the war, Barton discovered thousands of unanswered letters to the War Department from distraught relatives. President Lincoln allowed her to reply to their inquiries. She ran the Office of Missing Soldiers for the next 4 years writing letters, helping find, identify and properly bury thousands of soldiers.
In Switzerland, she was introduced to the Red Cross. Barton returned to the United States and worked to gain recognition for the International Committee of the Red Cross. She became President of the American branch of the society in 1881. She served as President until the age of 83 and opened the first American International Red Cross headquarters in the heart of Turkey after the Hamidian Massacres.
Eleanor Rathbone 1872-1946
Member of Parliament and Philanthropist
Eleanor Florence Rathbone was born May 12, 1872 in London, United Kingdom to the social reformer William Rathbone VI. Her family encouraged her to concentrate on social issues and after her graduation from Somerville College in Oxford, she worked alongside her father to investigate social and industrial conditions in Liverpool. After her father’s death, she published their report on conditions in 1903.
In 1897, Rathbone became the Honorary Secretary of the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society where she campaigned for women to get the right to vote.
She was elected as an independent member of the Liverpool City Council in 1909 and retained the position until 1935. At the outbreak of World War I, Rathbone organized the Town Hall Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Family Association to support wives and dependents of soldiers. From 1918 onwards, Rathbone argued for a system of family allowances paid directly to mothers. She also advocated for women’s rights in India.
In 1929, Rathbone entered parliament where she campaigned during the depression for cheap milk and better benefits for the children of the unemployed. One of her first speeches was about female genital mutilation in Kenya. She denounced British complacency in Hitler’s remilitarization. In 1938, she denounced the Munich Agreement and pressured parliament to aid the Czechoslovaks and grant entry for dissident Germans, Austrians, and Jews as well as to publicize the evidence of the Holocaust in 1942. She continued in parliament until her sudden death in 1946.
Golda Meir 1898-1978
Prime Minister of Israel
Golda was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, politician,and the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.
She was born Goldie Mabovitch in Kiev in 1898. Her family immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1906. She was educated there, becoming a teacher. At 14, she studied at North Division High School and worked part-time at Shuster's department store and the Milwaukee Public Library. Her mother wanted Golda to leave school and marry, but she declined. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold. The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home, debating Zionism, literature, women's suffrage, trade unionism, and more. In her autobiography, Meir wrote: "To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form ... those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role."
She attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, becoming a leader in the Milwaukee Labor Zionist Party. In 1917, she married and in 1921 she and her husband immigrated to Palestine, settling on a kibbutz.
She emerged as a forceful spokesperson for the Zionist cause while negotiating with the British authorities. In 1943, Goldie was a signature of Israel’s independence declaration. Goldie said that after she signed... she cried.
She was elected to the Parliament in 1949 and served until 1979. Appointed foreign minister in 1956, she Hebraized her name to Golda Meir. In 1969, Meir became Prime Minister. She resigned in 1974, believing that she had served enough time as premier. "Five years are sufficient ... It is beyond my strength to continue carrying this burden.”
Margaret Mead 1901-1978
Mead was a cultural anthropologist. She was the first of five children born to Edward and Emily Mead. Mead studied one year at DePauw University and then transferred to Barnard College, where she earned her bachelors degree in 1923. Next year she earned her masters degree at Columbia University. After graduation, she set out to do field work in Samoa. In 1926, Mead became the assistant curator at the American Museum of Natural History and three years later she received her PhD in 1929 from Columbia University.
Margaret was married three times. She and her third husband Gregory Bateson had a daughter Mary Catherine Bateson.
Mead was a communicator of anthropology in modern America and Western Culture and was often controversial as an academic. Her reports detailing the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asia traditional cultures influenced the 1960’s sexual revolution.
Mead held many executive positions and was honored numerous times for her work. She was a mentor to many anthropologists and sociologists. In 1976, Mead was a key participant at the United Nations Habitat I, the first UN forum on human settlements.She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; had several schools named after her and the United States Postal Service issued a stamp with her image.
Quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Nellie Bly 1864-1922
Elizabeth Cochran Seaman was born in Cochran’s Mill Pennsylvania in 1864. After her father’s death in 1870, her family moved to Pittsburgh.
A newspaper column entitled “What girls are good for” prompted Elizabeth to write a response. The editor, impressed with her passion, offered her a full-time job. It was customary for female newspaper writers to use pen names and the editor chose to call her “Nellie Bly.”
As a writer, Bly focused on the lives of working women, writing investigative articles on women factory workers. The newspaper soon received complaints from factory owners and she was reassigned to the women’s pages to cover fashion, society, and gardening.
Penniless, she took an undercover assignment at the New York World to feign insanity and investigate reports of brutality at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Her report, Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation leading to reforms. In 1888, she suggested to her editor that she take a trip around the world, to duplicate the fictionalAround the World in 80 Days. Bly made the trip in just over 72 days. She also became the first woman and one of the first foreigners to visit the war zone between Serbia and Austria where she was arrested when mistaken for a British spy.
In her later years, she became an industrialist taking over Iron Clad Manufacturing Company upon her husband’s death, where Nellie invented nesting garbage cans.
Oprah Winfrey 1954-present
Oprah was born to a teenage single mother. Molested in her teens, she became pregnant at 14 years old, but her son died in infancy. After years of bad behavior, Oprah was sent to live with her father in Nashville. Under the strict guidance of her father, she became an excellent student and won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
Oprah was offered a job at CBS affiliate Columbia Broadcasting System. She became the first African American female co-anchor of the evening news. She appeared for 7 years on the morning talk show “Baltimore is Talking.” Her ratings were better than those of Phil Donahue.
Oprah launched “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1986, which ran until 2011. In August 1986, she formed her own production company, Harpo, Inc. In September 1996, she started an on-air reading club. She also introduced “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” an annual list of holiday gifts curated by the mogul on her talk show.
In the final season Oprah made the ratings soar when she revealed that she had a half sister named Patricia. “It was one of the greatest surprises of my life,” she exclaimed.
She bought 10% stake in Weight Watchers; co-founded Oxygen Media, started “The Oprah Magazine,” and returned to acting. The list goes on and on.
Oprah has been in a relationship with Stedman Graham since the mid 80’s, but they have never married. The couple lives in Chicago with homes in California, Indiana and Colorado.
Empress of Byzantium
Theodora was born in the year 500 in Cyprus. From an early age she worked in a Constantinople brothel and as an actress. In 522, she gave up her former lifestyle, settling as a wool spinner in a house near the palace. The son of Emperor Justin I, Justinian sought to marry her and in 525 he repealed the law preventing anyone of senatorial rank from marrying actresses.
When Justinian succeeded to the throne in 527, Theodora became Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian called her his “Partner in my deliberations.” She had her own court, her own entourage, and her own imperial seal.
Justinian and Theodora rebuilt and reformed Constantinople and made it the most splendid city the world had seen for centuries. Theodora participated in Justinian’s legal and spiritual reforms and her involvement to increase the rights of women was substantial. She had laws passed that prohibited forced prostitution and she was known for buying girls, freeing them, and providing for their future. She created a convent for ex-prostitutes, closed brothels, instituted the death penalty for rape, and expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership.
Theodora worked against her husband’s support of Chalcedonian Christianity and sheltered and hid many Miaphysite leaders for years. Her influence was so strong that after her death in 548, Justinian worked to bring harmony between the two factions in the Empire. Both Theodora and Justinian are now saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorated each November 14.
Emily Hobhouse 1860-1926
British Welfare Campaigner
Hobhousewas an English reformer and social worker whose humanitarian undertakings in South Africa caused her to be dubbed the “Angel of Love” by grateful Boer women.She is primarily remembered for bringing this to the attention of the British public, and changing the deprived conditions inside British concentration camps in South Africa.
Hobhouse spent the first sheltered 35 years of her life at her father’s rectory. Upon his death, she engaged in temperance work in the United States. At the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, she became an outspoken critic of British policy. When she learned of the high mortality rate of Boer women and children in British concentration camps, she went to South Africa in 1900 to discover the facts for herself. Her investigations led to a storm of indignation in England. An amelioration of conditions soon followed. A second visit in October 1901 led to her deportation. Nonetheless, Hobhouse returned in 1903 and spent the next five years shaping the education of women and girls in the Orange River Colony (now Free State province).
During World War I, Emily took up further relief work with the destitute and war-ravaged peoples of central Europe, continuing her efforts after the war until ill health forced her to retire. After her death in London, her cremated remains were interred at the foot of the Women and Children’s Memorial in Bloemfontein.
Source Encyclopedia Britannica
Katherine Graham 1917-2001
Katharine Graham was born in 1917 into a wealthy New York family. Her father Eugene Meyer, a financier, was Chairman of the Federal Reserve and in 1933 purchased The Washington Post at a bankruptcy auction.
While attending the University of Chicago she became quite interested in labor issues. Upon her graduation, she worked for a short time at a San Francisco newspaper where she helped cover a major strike by wharf workers. Katherine began working for the Post in 1938.
In 1940, she married Philip Graham and took over the Post in 1946. Philip dealt with alcoholism and mental illness throughout their marriage and in 1963 committed suicide.
Katharine assumed the reins of the company and held the title of president and was de facto publisher. She became the first female Fortune 500 CEO in 1972 and the second publisher of a major American newspaper. She had no female role models and had difficulty being taken seriously by many of her male colleagues. The convergence of the women’s movement led her to promote gender equality within her company.
Graham presided over the Post at a crucial time in history. The Post played an integral role in unveiling the Watergate conspiracy, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Nixon. When Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein brought the Watergate story to her, Graham supported their investigative reporting and ran the stories of Watergate when few other news outlets were reporting the matter.
Sarojini Naidu 1879-1949
Political Activist and Poet
Naidu was a political activist, feminist, poet, and the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed an Indian state governor. She was sometimes called “The Nightingale of India.”
Sarojini was the eldest daughter of Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, a Bengali Brahman who was principal of the Nizam’s College, Hyderabad. She entered the University of Madras at the age of 12 and studied (1895–98) at King’s College, London, and later at Girton College, Cambridge.
After some experience in the suffragist campaign in England, she was drawn to India’s Congress movement and to Mahatma Gandhi’s Noncooperation Movement. In 1924, she traveled in eastern Africa and South Africa in the interest of Indians there and the following year became the first Indian woman president of the National Congress—having been preceded eight years earlier by the English feminist Annie Besant.
In 1928–29, she toured North America, lecturing on the Congress movement. Back in India, her anti-British activity brought her a number of prison sentences. She accompanied Gandhi to London for the inconclusive second session of the Round Table Conference for Indian–British cooperation (1931). Upon the outbreak of World War II she supported the Congress Party’s policies, first of aloofness, then of avowed hindrance to the Allied cause. In 1947, she became governor of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), a post she retained until her death.
Empress Dowager Cixi 1835-1908
Cixi was a Chinese empress dowager and regent of the Manchu Yehenara clan, who controlled the Chinese government for 47 years during the late Qing dynasty. She was selected as an imperial concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor. When the emperor died in 1861, she became the Empress Dowager.
She never wanted to adopt the western models about forming a government, but supported technological and military reforms. Cixi even agreed to the so-called Hundred Days’ Reforms she eventually turned them down and put the Guangxu Emperor under house arrest for supporting the reformers who tried to kill her.
In 1900, when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in northern China, Cixi threw her support to the anti-foreign bands by making a formal declaration of war on the Western powers. During the Battle of Beijing, the entire imperial court evacuated to Xi’an as the allied forces invaded the city.
After the fall of the city, the Eight-Nation Alliance negotiated a treaty with the Qing government, and sent messages to Cixi in Xi’an. Cixi decided that the terms were generous enough for her to acquiesce and stop the war.
In 1902, the whole court made a ceremonial return to Beijing, where Cixi implemented sweeping reforms. She sent high officials to Japan and Europe to gather facts and draw up plans for sweeping administrative reforms.
Ironically, Cixi sponsored the implementation of the New Polices, a program more radical than the one proposed by the reformers she had beheaded in 1898.
She died in 1908 in Beijing. Some 100 years after her death, researchers concluded that the cause of her death was acute arsenic poisoning.
Maria Bochkareva 1889-1920
Russian Army Officer
Bochkareva was a Russian soldier who fought in World War I. She was the first Russian woman to command a military unit.
At the outbreak of World War I, she joined the army and began front-line duty receiving a decoration for rescuing fifty wounded soldiers.
After recovering from wounds, she returned to the front as a corporal. She suffered another injury but returned to the front as a senior non-commissioned officer. She was discharged in the spring of 1917.
After the abdication of the Tsar, she proposed the creation of an all-female combat unit to fix the Army's morale problem. Bochkareva's 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death, was comprised of around 300 women, which were sent to the Russian western front where she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.
Taking a message to a general in the White Army, she was detained by the Bolsheviks and scheduled to be executed. A soldier convinced the Bolsheviks to stay her execution. Allowed to leave the country, Bochkareva travelled to the United States.
Bochkareva went to New York City, where she dictated her memoirs, Yashka: My Life As Peasant, Exile, and Soldier. In Washington, D.C., she met with President Woodrow Wilson. Then she traveled to Great Britain where she was granted an audience with King George V.
Back in Russia in 1919, she tried to form a women's medical detachment, but was recaptured by the Bolsheviks and interrogated. Ultimately, against Lenin's orders, she was shot as an "enemy of the working class.”
Toni Morrison 1931-2019
Chloe Anthony Wofford "Toni" Morrison was an African-American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, her parents instilled in her a sense of heritage and language through telling traditional African-American folktales and ghost stories and singing songs.
Morrison graduated from Howard University in 1953 and went to graduate school at Cornell University. In the late 1960s, she became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House in New York City. In the 1970s and 1980s, she developed her own reputation as an author, and her perhaps most celebrated work, Beloved, was made into a 1998 film.
Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Also that year, she was honored with the National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
In May 2011, Morrison received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Rutgers University where she delivered a speech on the "Pursuit of life, liberty, meaningfulness, integrity, and truth."
In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.
Elinor Ostrom 1933 – 2012
Ostrom was an American political scientist.
She earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California. There she met Vincent Ostrom, and the couple married in 1963. Her first academic appointment was at Indiana University at Bloomington, where she remained in the political science department as an assistant professor from 1965 to 1984 ultimately becoming the department chair. She was the first female to hold this post.
In addition, she cofounded the university’s Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Ostrom later served as a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science. She was a founding co-director of the university’s Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change. She also was a research professor and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University at Tempe.
Throughout her career Ostrom was a consultant for various entities, including the State of California Local Government Reform Task Force 1973–74.
In 2009, Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their work in the area of economic governance, the ways economic systems and hierarchical organizations operate outside the market. She was the first woman to win the economics prize. Ostrom focused on ways in which resources such as forests, irrigation systems, and oil fields can be managed without government regulation or privatization.
Source Encyclopedia Britannica
Mary Somerville 1780-1872
Science Writer and Polymath
Mary's parents saw no need to provide an education for their daughter, so they sent her to a school where she was taught needlework. Mary began to educate herself by reading every book that she could find.
Mary married when she was 24 years old and gave birth to two sons. On the death of her husband, she met William Wallace, a professor of mathematics at the Royal Military College, he strongly encouraged her in her studies of mathematics and science. In 1812, Mary married William Somerville who also supported his wife's desire to study.
Somerville published her first paper The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 1826.
In 1827, Lord Brougham requested that Mary translate Laplace's Mécanique Céleste. She went far beyond a translation, explaining in detail the mathematics used by Laplace.
In 1834, Mary published The Connection of the Physical Sciences. She proposed a hypothetical planet perturbing Uranus, which lead astronomers to the discovery of Neptune.
Mary wrote many works. Most important of her later publications was Physical Geography, her most successful text used until the beginning of the 20th century in schools and universities.
Somerville was a strong supporter of women's education and suffrage. Somerville College in Oxford was named after her in 1879 because of her strong support for women's education.
“Her grasp of scientific truth in all branches of knowledge, combined with an exceptional power of exposition made her the most remarkable woman of her generation.” John Stuart Mill.
Source School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland
Yeshe Tsogyal 757-817
Mother of Tibetan Buddhism
Yeshe Tsogyal, born in eighth century Tibet, was the founding Mother of Tibetan Buddhism and the foremost female master of Tibetan Tantra. It is believed she was an incarnation of Dorje Phagmo and was chosen by Guru Padmasambhava to help establish the Buddhist teachings in Tibet. She is considered an enlightened figure who intentionally took birth to benefit beings. She is also viewed as a role model for those seeking enlightenment, especially through the tantric path. Her life story recounts her very tangible struggles on the path and her ultimate victory—overcoming dualistic thought and compassionately benefiting countless beings. As a teacher, she used her own life story to instruct and nurture her disciples so they could learn how to attain their own enlightenment.
On an abstract level, Yeshe Tsogyal represents the enlightened feminine. Her archetype is that of the heroine who fuses the absolute and the relative into a seamless enlightened existence. In the Mother Essence Lineage, Yeshe Tsogyal and her incarnations and emanations are of primary importance, because she is the Mother of Vision, and therefore the Mother of non-dual experience. Although Yeshe Tsogyal is often referred to as Guru Rinpoche’s consort, the two are in fact simultaneous manifestations of the integrated principles of skillful means and sublime knowing.
An example of her teaching: “When you understand the dualistic mind, there will be no separation from me. May my good wishes fill the sky.”
Source Awaken Past Teachers
Gertrude Ederle 1906-2003
Gertrude Ederle was born on October 29, 1905, in Manhattan, New York, the daughter of German immigrants. Her father taught her to swim at an early age. The sport was becoming increasingly popular with the evolution of a bathing suit that made it easier to slip through the water. At 12 years of age, she joined the Women’s Swimming Association in Manhattan, where she could swim for $3.00 a year.
That same year, she set her first world record in the 880-yard freestyle, becoming the youngest world record holder in swimming history. She set eight more world records after that. In total, Ederle held 20 US national and world records from 1921 to 1925. At the 1924 Summer Olympics, Ederle won a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay and bronze medals for the 200-meter freestyle and 400-meter freestyle.
In 1925, Ederle turned professional and the Women’s Swimming Association sponsored her attempt at swimming the English Channel. At that time, only five men had been able to accomplish the task. On August 6, 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel, doing it in 14 hours and 34 minutes. The record stood until Florence Chadwick, in 1950, swam the channel in 13 hours and 20 minutes.
Helen Gwynne-Vaughan 1879-1967
Pioneering RAF commandant and Botanist
Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, a British botanist who was the head of women's services in both world wars. She combined an academic career with distinguished military service.
Receiving her degree in botany in 1904, Gwynne-Vaughan taught at various London colleges while studying for her doctorate, which she received in 1907. In 1909, she became the head of the botany department at Birkbeck College in London. Early in her career, she was active in the University of London Suffrage Society, which she founded with Louisa Garrett Anderson. She married D.T. Gwynne-Vaughn in 1911.
During World War I, Gwynne-Vaughan served as joint chief controller of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in France, and then as a commandant in the Women's Royal Air Force (1918–19). Returning to Birkbeck College in 1921, she served as a member of the Royal Commission on Food Prices in 1924.
At the onset of World War II in 1939, she was appointed the first director of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, although disagreements with senior officers brought about her forced resignation in 1942. She returned to Birkbeck College, where she remained until 1944.
Gwynne-Vaughan published many scientific studies, two textbooks on fungi, and authored an autobiography, Service with the Army (1942). She was named Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1919 and Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1926.
Marie Marvingt 1875-1963
French Athlete and Journalist
Marvingt was a French athlete, mountaineer, aviator, and journalist. When Marie's mother died, the fourteen-year-old found herself in charge of the household, and the family moved to Nancy, where she remained for the rest of her life.
Her father was a local billiards and swimming champion. He shared his love of sports with Marie. By the age of four, she could swim 4 kilometers. She grew to also enjoy many other sports. In 1890, at the age of 15, she canoed over 400 kilometers from Nancy to Koblenz, Germany. Marie was the first woman to climb many of the peaks in the French and Swiss Alps.
During World War I, she disguised herself as a man and served on the front lines. Marie was discovered and sent home but later participated in military operations with the Italians. She also served as a Red Cross surgical nurse and a war correspondent.
In 1915, Marvingt became the first woman in the world to fly combat missions over German-held territory and she received the Croix de guerre (Military Cross). Between the two World Wars she worked as a journalist, war correspondent, and medical officer with French Forces in North Africa. While in Morocco, she came up with the idea of using metal skis for air ambulances so that they could land on desert sand.
In World War II, she resumed work as a Red Cross nurse with the rank of corporal and she continued her promotion of the ambulance-airplane. Marie also founded and maintained a home for wounded aviators.
Lise Meitner 1878-1968
Lise Meitner was born November 7, 1878 in Vienna Austria-Hungary. She loved math and science and at age 8 recorded her earliest research in a notebook kept under her pillow. She was particularly interested in studying the colors of an oil slick, thin films and reflected light. She became the second woman to obtain a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Vienna in 1905.
As a physicist, Meitner worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Otto Hahn, Otto Robert Frisch and Lise led a small group of scientists who first discovered nuclear fission of uranium when it absorbed an extra neutron. Their research helped to pioneer nuclear reactors to generate electricity as well as the development of nuclear weapons during World War II.
Meitner spent most of her career as a physics professor in Berlin. She was the first woman to become a full professor of physics in Germany. In the 1930s, she lost her position because of the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. In 1938 she fled to Sweden and became a Swedish citizen.
Meitner received many awards and honors late in her life but the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for nuclear fission was awarded exclusively to her long-time collaborator Otto Hahn. Several scientists and journalists have called her exclusion unjust. In 1992 the scientific community posthumously honored Lise by naming the chemical element 109 meitnerium after her.
Indira Gandhi 1917-1984
Indian Prime Minister
Indira Priyararshini Gandhi was born November 19, 1917 and was the daughter of Jawaharial Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. She served as her father’s personal assistant and hostess during his tenure as Prime Minister between 1947 and 1964.
Indira was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1959 and upon her father’s death in 1964, was appointed as a member of the Rajua Sbha [upper house]. She became a member of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s cabinet as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. In the Congress Party’s parliamentary election in early 1966, she defeated her rival to become leader, and thus she became Prime Minister of India.
As Prime Minister, Gandhi was known for her political intransigency and unprecedented centralization of power. She went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement and war of independence in East Pakistan. That resulted in an Indian victory and the creation of Bangladesh as well as increasing India’s influence to the point where it became the regional hegemon of South Asia. In a response to a call for revolution, she instituted a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977 where basic civil liberties were suspended and the press was censored. Widespread atrocities were carried out during the emergency. In 1980, she returned to power after free elections, but was assassinated by two of her bodyguards and Sikh nationalists in 1984.
In 1999, Indira Gandhi was named “Woman of the Millennium” in an online poll organized by the BBC.
Grace Hopper 1906-1992
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was born in New Your City on December 9, 1906. She attended Vassar College and earned a Ph.D in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College.
Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 year old. Undaunted, she joined the Navy reserves.
She began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. While there, she began developing the compiler. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her compiler converted English terms into machine code. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker for the A-O System.
In 1954, Eckert-Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming. She led the release of FLOW-MATIC and in 1959 the COBOL language.
In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve but was recalled to active duty in 1967. She retired again in 1986 as a Navy rear admiral. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named after her as was the CrayXE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, she was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. She died in 1992 at age 85 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Maya Angelou 1928-2014
Poet and Civil Rights Advocate
Maya was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. From a young age she was tossed back and forth between family members. She was raped at the age of 8 by her mother’s boyfriend, and became mute for five years. At the age of 17, she gave birth to a son.
The details of Angelou’s life tend to be inconsistent and sketchy. Especially when it came to the number of husbands and numerous occupations. She was a poet, writer, fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer, journalist, actress, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies and public television.
Maya is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focused on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings tells of her life up to the age of 17. This brought her international recognition and acclaim. She received many awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Maya was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. Dr. King asked Angelou to become the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Jimmy Carter appointed Maya to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. “To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn’t have to go through half the things she has.”
Quote: “I always wear a hat or a very tightly pulled tie when I write. I suppose I hope by doing that I will keep my brains from seeping out of my scalp and running in great gray blobs down my neck, into my ears, and over my face.”
Leona Woods 1919-1986
Leona graduated from high school at 14 and earned her degree in physics from the University of Chicago when she was 18.
After passing her qualifying exams in chemistry, she went to work for Robert Mulliken. Her doctoral thesis, "On the Silicon Oxide Bands,” prepared under the supervision of Mulliken and Polish chemist Stanisław Mrozowski was accepted in 1943.
In a project led by her mentor Enrico Fermi, Woods was instrumental in the construction and utilization of Geiger counters for analysis during experimentation. She was the only woman present when the world’s first reactor went critical under the stands of the University’s football field in 1942. She worked with Fermi on the Manhattan Project, and supervised the construction and operation of Hanford's plutonium production reactors.
After the war, she became a fellow at Fermi's Institute for Nuclear Studies. She later worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and New York University, where she became a professor in 1962. Her research involved high-energy physics, astrophysics and cosmology.
She became a professor at the University of Colorado, and a staff member at RAND Corporation. In later life she became interested in ecological and environmental issues, and studied climate change. She was a strong advocate of food irradiation as a means of killing harmful bacteria.
Beatrix Potter 1866-1943
Writer and Scientist
Born into an upper middle class household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and spent holidays in Scotland and the Lake District, developing a love of landscape, flora, and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted.
As was common in the Victorian era, women of her class were privately educated and rarely went to university. However, her study and watercolors of fungi led to her being widely respected in the field of mycology. In her thirties, Potter self-published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Following this, she began writing and illustrating children's books full-time.
Beatrix Potter was interested in every branch of natural science save astronomy. Potter was eclectic in her tastes: collecting fossils, studying archeological artifacts from London excavations, and pursued entomology. In all these areas she drew and painted her specimens with increasing skill. By the 1890’s, her scientific interests centered on mycology.
Potter was also a canny businesswoman. She made and patented a Peter Rabbit doll, followed by other "spinoff" merchandise over the years, including painting books, board games, wallpaper, figurines, baby blankets, and China tea sets.
She continued to write and illustrate until diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue. In all, Potter wrote thirty books. She died of complications from pneumonia and heart disease in1943 at Castle Cottage. She left nearly all her property and her book illustrations to the National Trust.
Ida Wells 1862-1931
Advocate and Suffragist
Wells was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (NAACP).
She was born into slavery in Mississippi and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. When she was a teenager her parents and her younger brother died of yellow fever. At the age of 24, she wrote, "I will not begin at this late day by doing what my soul abhors; sugaring men, weak deceitful creatures, with flattery to retain them as escorts or to gratify a revenge."
In 1884, a train conductor ordered Wells to give up her seat in the first-class ladies car and move to the smoking car, crowded with other passengers. When Wells refused to give up her seat, the conductor and two men dragged her out of the car. She eventually lost her court case.
Soon she co-owned the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper. Wells’ news reporting covered racial segregation and exposed lynching as a barbaric practice. A white mob destroyed her newspaper office and presses.
In 1891, the Memphis Board of Education dismissed Wells from her teaching post because her articles criticized conditions in the black schools of the region.
Wells married, had a family, and continued to work. She was extremely active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement. Ida established several notable women’s organizations such as the National Afro American Council. She also worked alongside Josephine St Pierre Ruffin and Harriet Tubman who helped found the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
Junko Tabei 1939-2016
Ishibashi Junko was born September 22, 1939 in Fukushima, Japan. She was considered a frail, weak child but nevertheless began mountain climbing at the age of 10, going on a class-climbing trip to Mount Nasu. Although she was interested in doing more climbing, it was an expensive hobby so Tabei made only a few more climbs during her high school years.
From 1958 to 1962, Tabei studied at Showa Women’s University where she joined the mountain climbing club. She also married another climber named Masanobu Takei and they had two children. She also formed the company, Ladies’ Climbing Club: Japan in 1969 with a slogan “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.” During this time she climbed Mount Fuji and the Matterhorn.
By 1975, Tabei’s company formed a team known, as the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition comprised of 15 members. She helped find sponsors and the team began the expedition early in May. Camping at 6,300 meters, the group was struck by an avalanche and was buried under the snow. Tabei lost consciousness for approximately six minutes until her Sherpa guide dug her out. Twelve days later, on May 16th, with her Sherpa, Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest.
By 1991, Tabei became the first woman to complete the “Seven Summits.” In addition to climbing, she focused on the environmental degradation of Everest caused by the waste left behind by climbing groups and preserving mountain environments. She led and participated in “cleanup” climbs in Japan and the Himalayas.
Carrie Chapman Catt 1859-1947
Catt was a key coordinator of the woman suffrage movement and a skillful political strategist. She revitalized the National American Woman Suffrage Association and played a leading role in its successful campaign to win voting rights for women. Upon ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, she founded the League of Women Voters.
Carrie Clinton Lane was born in1859 in Ripon Wisconsin, the second of three children. At the age of seven, her family moved to rural Charles City, Iowa where she graduated from high school. When Catt graduated from Iowa Agricultural College, she was the only woman. She worked as a schoolteacher and a principal. In 1883, she became one of the first women in the nation appointed superintendent of schools.
In 1885, She married Leo Chapman who unfortunately died the following year of typhoid. After her husband’s death, she returned to Charles City and joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association as a professional writer and lecturer. From 1890 to 1892 she served as the Iowa Association organizer. In June, she married George Catt.
She succeeded Susan B Anthony as president of the NAWSA. At a convention in New Jersey, Catt unveiled her “Winning Plan.” Because of her plan and strong leadership, the nineteenth Amendment officially became part of the United States Constitution.
She expanded her interest to world peace and child labor. Honored and praised by countless people, Carrie Chapman Catt died of heart failure at home on March 9, 1947.
Alice Milliat 1884-1957
Milliat was a pioneer of women's sport in France and around the world. Her lobbying on behalf of female athletes forced the inclusion of women's events in the Olympic Games.
Milliat, a translator by profession participated in the sport of rowing. She was also an avid swimmer and hockey player.
A member of Femina Sport, a club founded in 1911, she helped form the Federation Francaise Sportive Feminine in 1917, becoming treasurer and later president. In 1921, she organized the first international women's sporting event in Monte Carlo.
She is credited with applying pressure on the Olympic games to allow more female representation in a broader range of sports, a process that is still ongoing today. Her name is engraved on the pediment of a gymnasium in the 14th arrondissement in Paris, thanks to her contributions to athletics. To this day, the Olympics do not offer an equal slate of men and women's sports. However, Milliat's pressure greatly expanded women’s representation at the Olympics.
In a 1934 interview, Milliat said: "Women's sports of all kinds are handicapped in my country by the lack of playing space. As we have no vote, we cannot make our needs publicly felt, or bring pressure to bear in the right quarters. I always tell my girls that the vote is one of the things they will have to work for if France is to keep its place with the other nations in the realm of feminine sport."
In 1920, Milliat assembled a football (Soccer) team of women from Paris who toured the UK and played on behalf of France in the world’s first internationally recognized women’s football tournament.
In 1934, Milliat spoke to an interviewer from the women's magazine "Independent Woman." In her statement, she advocated for women's suffrage in France. She believed women's suffrage would lead to greater support for women's sports.
Amelia Earhart 1897-1937
Aviatrix and member of Zonta
Amelia was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences, and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.
Born in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart developed a passion for adventure at a young age. In 1928, Earhart became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by airplane accompanying pilot Wilmer Stultz. In 1932, piloting a Lockheed Vega 5B, Earhart made a nonstop solo transatlantic flight, becoming the first woman to achieve such a feat. She received the United States Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. In 1935, Earhart became a faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to aeronautical engineering and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Women's Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1937, she began a flight around the world. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan, were reported missing on 2 July near Howland Island in the Pacific. Earhart’s disappearance is one of history’s unsolved mysteries and she was declared dead in absentia in 1939.
In 1938, Zonta International established The Amelia Earhart Fellowship. The $10,000 Fellowships are awarded annually to up to 30 women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace applied sciences.
Since the program’s inception, Zonta has awarded 1,603 Amelia Earhart Fellowships totaling more than $10.3 million to 1,174 women representing 73 countries.
Zonta Fellows have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, and even Secretary of the US Air Force.
Source Wikipedia & Zonta International
Christa McAuliffe 1948-1986
Teacher and US Astronaut
Sharon Christa McAuliffe was born on September 2, 1948. She was an American teacher and astronaut from Concord, New Hampshire, and one of the seven-crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.
She came from a family of many teachers. From a young age, she was known as Christa, her middle name. Growing up, she was inspired by the Apollo moon landing and Project Mercury. After John Glenn orbited Earth, she commented to a friend that one-day people will go to the moon and she wanted to do that. On her NASA application, McAuliffe said she wanted to partake since she watched the “Space Age” being born.
She was married in 1970 to her longtime boyfriend. They moved closer to Washington, D.C. so that he could attend law school at George Town University. They had two children.
She started teaching US History in 1970 at a junior high school in Maryland. After receiving her Master of Arts in education supervision and administration in 1978, they moved to New Hampshire where she continued to teach.
In 1985, she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the “NASA Teacher in Space Project.” On January 28, 1986, about to become the first teacher in space, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart killing her at the age of 37. In 2004, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President George Bush.
Dorothy Harrison Eustis 1886-1946
Dog breeder and Philanthropist
In 1906, her husband died making her a 29-year-old widow with two young children, ages 1 and 8. She returned to Philadelphia and in 1923, married George Eustis.
Shortly after their wedding, the couple rented a chalet in the Swiss Alps and started breeding German shepherds to work as police dogs. To help them with their project, they hired Elliot "Jack" Humphrey, a self-taught geneticist and animal trainer. She founded The Seeing Eye, Inc., the first dog guide school for the blind in the United States. Humphrey would later be instrumental in developing the method for training dogs, as well as students, at The Seeing Eye.
For the first three years of its existence, The Seeing Eye had no permanent facility, so trainers traveled to different cities to hold their classes. In 1931, Eustis purchased a ten-bedroom mansion in Whippany, New Jersey with enough room to house students while they were learning to work with their dogs. The school relocated to a newly constructed, and more user-friendly facility in Morristown in 1966.
Eustis continued to play an active role in the affairs of The Seeing Eye until 1940, when she resigned as president and took on the role of a member of the board of trustees. By then she had also become increasingly more devoted to Christian Science, and had begun a Christian Science healing practice. Eustis continued the practice until 1945, the year before she died.
She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.
Anne Frank 1929-1945
Holocaust Victim and Diarist
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was a world-famous German-born diarist and World War II Holocaust victim.
Fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews as a teenage girl, her family moved to Amsterdam and later went into hiding.
In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. As Frank later wrote, "After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews." Beginning in 1940, the Nazis imposed anti-Jewish measures. Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David at all times and observe a strict curfew.
In July 1942, the Frank family went into hiding for two years, never once stepping outside the dark, damp, sequestered portion of the building. During this time, Frank wrote about her experiences and wishes in the renowned work, The Diary of Anne Frank which has been read by millions.
In 1944, German secret police and four Dutch Nazis stormed into their Secret Annex. The family was shipped off to a concentration camp in the middle of the night and transferred to Auschwitz, Poland.
After months of hard labor, Anne was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany where food was scarce, sanitation awful, and disease rampant. She caught typhus in the spring of 1945 and died a few weeks before British soldiers liberated the German concentration camp. Anne was just 15 years old at the time of her death, one of more than 1 million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust.
Madeline Albright 1937-present
Politician and Diplomat
Madeline Jana Korbel Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelova in 1937. She immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 1948. She and her family lived in Denver and eventually in 1957 she became an American citizen. She attended Wellesley College and received a PhD from Columbia.
After graduating from Columbia, she became an aid to a senator. She then worked on the National Security Council until 1981 when President Jimmy Carter left office. Albright then joined the faculty of Georgetown University. After Clinton’s win in 1992 for the presidency, she helped assemble his National Security Council. In 1993, he appointed her as US Ambassador to the United Nations. She stayed there until 1997 then became the first female to be the United States Secretary of State, serving from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton.
After her term as Secretary of State was completed, she founded the Albright Group, an international strategy consulting firm. It was to engage in private fund management related to emerging markets. She then served on the Board of Directors for the New York Stock Exchange. Albright also serves on many other boards such as the Council on Foreign Relations, Commission of Legal Empowerment of the Poor, Council of Women World Leaders and many others. She has even guest starred on several television shows.
Julia Child 1912-2004
Chef and Television Personality
Julia Carolyn McWilliams Child was an American chef, author and television personality. She is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public in the early 1960s.
She was born in Pasadena, California where she went to boarding school and attended Smith College graduating in 1934 as a history major.
Julia wanted to join the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, but at six feet two, she was too tall. She ended up joining the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, DC where she eventually became a top-secret researcher. She assisted a team of developers of shark repellent. It was to minimize the risk to stranded aviators and sailors in the water.
In 1944, she was stationed in Ceylon and a year later she went to Kunming, China where she ended up meeting her husband. They were married in 1946 and shortly after, his job took them to Paris.
While they were in Paris and her husband was at work she wanted to attend the Cordon Bleu. Two of Julia’s friends convinced Julia to make a cookbook. In 1962, after many attempts, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published.
When her husband retired from the government service in 1961, they moved to Massachusetts where she continued to write cookbooks and eventually had her own cooking show. In the next 20 years she ended up being the star of several cooking shows, always known for using lots of butter and cream. She brought the shallot to the American housewife.
Alice Paul 1885-1977
Alice was born into a Quaker family in New Jersey. After two years with the National American Woman Suffrage Association she cofounded the Congressional Union and then formed the National Woman’s party in 1916.
Paul worked as a caseworker for a London settlement house, where she served her apprenticeship for what became her vocation: the struggle for women’s rights. Her education as an activist was acquired through a series of arrests, imprisonments, hunger strikes and forced feedings. She learned how to generate publicity for her cause and how to capitalize on that publicity.
Upon her return to the United States, she earned a PhD in sociology. In 1912, she launched her full time suffrage career. She led demonstrations and was subject to imprisonment as she sought a voting amendment. Her actions helped bring about the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Paul continued to push for equal rights and worked from National Woman’s party headquarters in Washington D.C. until her later years.
Throughout her life, Alice Paul remained personally conservative and professionally demanding of both herself and her colleagues. She stated: “I think if we get freedom for women, then they are probably going to do a lot of things that I wish they wouldn’t do, but that isn’t our business to say what they should do with it. It is our business to see that they get it.”
Marie Van Brittan Brown 1922-1999
Inventor of Closed Circuit TV
Marie Van Brittan Brown was born October 30, 1922 in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York.
The crime rate in her neighborhood was very high and working as a nurse, she would come home at irregular hours. Wondering who was on the other side of her door was always something Brown feared.
Driven by the time it took the police to arrive in her neighborhood, Brown and her husband invented the first home security system. Brown’s system had a set of three peepholes. At the opposite side of the door, a camera was attached with the ability to slide up and down to allow a person to see through each peephole. Also, the resident could unlatch the door by remote control. The system included a device that enabled a homeowner to use a television to view the person at the door and hear the caller’s voice. The system allowed the monitor to be in a different room; all of this was possible via a radio controlled wireless system. If the person viewing the images on the monitor did not feel safe, they could press a button that would send an alarm to police or security.
The invention was the first closed-circuit television security system and Brown and her husband were able to patent it in 1966, the first patent of its kind. Fifty years later, her invention is still being used by smaller businesses and living facilities.
Mary Seacole 1805-1881
Jamaican Business Woman and Nurse
In her late forties, Mary travelled from her home in Jamaica to Britain to offer her services as a nurse during the Crimean War (1853-56). A woman of mixed-race with a Jamaican mother and Scottish father, she dealt with prejudice and impediments her whole life.
Funding her own passage to the Crimea, Mary established the British Hotel near Balaclava. She described this as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers." Coming from a tradition of Jamaican and West African “doctresses," Seacole used herbal remedies to nurse soldiers back to health. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton.
When the Crimean War broke out, she was one of two nurses to tend the wounded, along with Florence Nightingale. Hoping to assist, Seacole applied to the War Office but was refused, so she travelled independently and set up her hotel and tended the battlefield wounded.
After her death, she was largely forgotten for almost a century, but today is celebrated as a woman who made a success of her career despite experiencing racial prejudice. Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), is one of the earliest autobiographies of a mixed-race woman, although present-day supporters of Nightingale have questioned some aspects of its accuracy.
Source Wikipedia & History Extra
Ethel Smyth 1858-1944
Composer and Suffragist
Dame Ethel Mary Smyth was born in 1858 in Sidcup, United Kingdom. She loved music but her father, John Hall Smyth, a General in the Royal Artillery, was very much opposed to her making it a career.
After a major battle with her father, Smyth was allowed to attend the Leipzig Conservatory where she studied composition and had the opportunity of meeting Dvorak, Grieg, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. She became a composer and her extensive work included works for the piano, chamber music, orchestral works, choral works, and operas. Her opera, The Wreckers is considered by some critics to be the “most important English opera composed during the period between Purcell and Britten.” Another of her operas, Der Wald was for more than a century the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
In 1910, Smyth joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, a suffrage organization, giving up music for two years to devote herself to the cause. In 1911, The March of the Womenbecame the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement.
In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1922 becoming the first female composer to be awarded the honor. On her seventy-fifth birthday her work was celebrated in the presence of the Queen. Heartbreakingly, she was already completely deaf and could hear neither her own music nor the adulation of the crowds.
However, she found a new interest in literature and, between 1919 and 1940, she published ten highly successful mostly autobiographical books.
Andrea Dworkin 1946-2005
Radical Feminist and Writer
Dworkin was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women. Her views were widely criticized by liberal feminists. At the same time, she maintained a dialogue with political conservatives, and wrote a topically related book, Right-Wing Women. After suffering abuse from her first husband, she was introduced to radical feminist literature and began writing Woman Hating.
After moving to New York, she became an activist and a writer on several issues eventually publishing 10 books on feminism.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Dworkin became known as a spokeswoman for the feminist anti-pornography movement, particularly for Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981) and Intercourse (1987) which remain her two most widely known books. She considered the pornography industry to be based on turning women into objects for abuse by men. She testified at a federal commission against pornography, leading some stores to withdraw certain magazines from sale, but a court ruled the government's efforts unconstitutional. Critics argued that no causal relationship between pornography and harm to women had been found.
Her book Intercourse has been interpreted as comparing all heterosexual intercourse to rape, but Dworkin disagreed stating that, “Sex must not put women in the subordinate position. It must be reciprocal and not an act of aggression.” Some critics of Dworkin accused her of supporting incest. She subsequently wrote much in opposition to incest. When she said she was drugged and raped in a hotel in 1999, controversy over the truth of the allegations followed. In her later years, she suffered from severe osteoarthritis, which limited her mobility. She died of acute myocarditis at the age of 58.
Billie Jean King 1943- Present
Billie Jean is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. She was born in Long Beach, California to Betty and Bill Moffitt. Billie Jean’s first sport was basketball. She then moved to softball and finally on to tennis.
In 1958, she turned pro, and former women’s tennis great Alice Marble became her coach. She married law student Larry King in 1965. Then in 1966, Billie Jean achieved the goal she set for herself when she became #1 in the world in women’s tennis. She held the #1 ranking for 5 additional years. She was known for her lightening-fast speed, forceful net game and fierce backhand, but this is only half her story.
She was a champion for equal prize money. Billie Jean spearheaded the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association and became the first President. Billie Jean battled proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” and beat him.
In the early 70’s, Billie Jean began a secret relationship with a woman and soon found herself publicly known as a lesbian causing her to los all of her endorsement deals. Following her divorce from Larry King in 1987, she found lasting love with Ilana Kloss.
On August 12, 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama for her advocacy work.
Her tireless efforts to fight injustice and discrimination worldwide continue today. On September 22, 2018, it was announced that Billie Jean King and her partner joined the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group.
Maryam Mirzakhani 1977-2017
Maryam Mirzakhani was born on in Tehran, Iran. Growing up, she loved math and in her junior and senior year of high school, won the gold medal for mathematics in the Iranian National Olympiad. She was also the first female Iranian student to win the gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Hong Kong scoring 41 out of 42 points. The following year, she became the first Iranian student to achieve a perfect score.
She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and became a professor at Princeton University and later at Stanford University.
In 2005, Mirzakhani was honored with the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. Thus, she became both the first, and to date, the only woman and the first Iranian to be honored with the award. The award committee sited her work in the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.
Mirzkhani died in 2017, at the age of 40, from cancer. Upon her death several Iranian newspapers, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, broke taboo and published her photographs with her hair uncovered, a gesture widely noted in the press and social media. Rouhani said in his message that, “The unprecedented brilliance of this creative scientist and modest human being, who made Iran’s name resonate in the world’s scientific forums, was a turning point in showing the great will of Iranian women and young people on the path towards reaching the peaks of glory and in various international arenas.”
Irene Sendler 1910-2008
Social Worker and Humanitarian
At the onset of World War II, the Germans outlawed helping Polish Jews, making it punishable by death including death to their entire family. Sendler realized the danger, but it didn’t stop her from saving the lives of over 2,500 Jewish children.
At school, she was a vocal critic of the system that segregated Jewish pupils from non-Jewish counterparts during classes and lectures.
When Germany invaded Poland, Irena was working for the Polish Social Welfare Department, which barred them from helping any Polish Jews. Irena and some of her co-workers falsified 3000 documents to help Jewish families. Sendler had permission to enter the Warsaw Ghetto, where under the guise of performing sanitation inspections, she smuggled children out in ambulances, trams and even loaded children into packages and suitcases.
Over 2,500 children were smuggled, and at least 400 by Sendler herself. In hopes of one day uniting families, she wrote all the names on a slip of paper she kept at her home.
Sendler was arrested in late 1943 and tortured by the Gestapo, but never named any of her comrades or the children she saved. Unfortunately, she was unable to reunite the families as they had been killed or were missing.
Though she received countless awards, Irena remained humble about her contribution to the Jewish community.
One year before her death at 98, she said: “I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning regardless of religion and nationality.”
Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Bhutto was born in Karachi, Pakistan, the child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the US at Harvard, and in the UK, at Oxford.
Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 1977 and was placed under house arrest after a military coup overthrew her father's government. One year later, the elder Bhutto was hanged. She inherited her father's leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
She moved to England in 1984, becoming the joint leader in exile of the PPP. Returning to Pakistan in 1986, she launched a nationwide campaign for open elections.
In 1988, Bhutto was elected prime minister, making her the first ever-female prime minister of a Muslim nation.
While in self-imposed exile in Britain and Dubai, she was convicted in 1999 of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison. She continued to direct her party from abroad.
After President Musharraf granted her amnesty on all corruption charges, Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007. Tragically, Bhutto's homecoming rally was hit by a suicide attack, killing 136 people. She called for Musharraf's resignation four days later. Bhutto was killed when an assassin fired shots and then blew himself up after an election campaign rally on December 2007. The attack also killed 28 others and wounded at least another 100.