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Women who have changed the world

Women and rights

Women who have changed the world

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"Mother" Mary Harris Jones... Irish immigrant who lost her family to yellow fever and became the self-proclaimed mother and “hell-raiser” for the downtrodden American laborer, especially children.

"I was the first Black, female president in one hundred and seven years at Spelman College. I'm proud of the sisterhood we have created - it is about connectedness. We create a new family for our women by treating one another as if we were from the same womb." [Dr. Johnetta Cole, 65; Image is from Joyce Tenneson's best-selling book Wise Women.]

Wise Women

Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded the first college for black women in the United States in 1881. The school was named Spelman College after Laura Celestia Spelman Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, who made a sizeable donation to the school.

Edna Beard (1877-1928) Edna was the first woman to serve in the Vermont legislature (1921). Her first act of legislation provided 2 dollars a week in child support for women whose husbands were “incapacitated by an incurable disease.” After serving one term in the Vermont House, she moved on to the Vermont Senate where she chaired the Library Committee. Her first enacted bill in the Senate made it possible for county sheriffs to hire female deputies.

Meet Josephine Holloway, one of the first African American Girl Scout troop leaders who lobbied for the Girl Scouts to include African Americans.

Janice Jackson, Evelyn Pierce, and Ethel Sawyer of the Tougaloo Nine, under arrest for the crime of reading in a "white only" libraray. Jackson, Mississippi, 1961.

Phoebe Hawn was one of fourteen women who walked 295 miles from New York City to Washington DC in 1913 as part of a suffrage demonstration. The hike to DC began on February 12, 1913, Lincoln’s birthday. Hundreds of people joined the march at points along the way. The fourteen women who walked the entire route and the two who joined the march in Philadelphia wore long brown capes as shown in the photo above.


ELISABETH "LISETTE" DENISON FORTH, born enslaved in 1786 near Detroit, Michigan. Around 1807, she moved to Canada to establish residency and gain her freedom. Forth returned to Detroit around 1815 and worked as a domestic servant. In 1825, she purchased four lots in Pontiac, Michigan, becoming the first Black property owner in the city. In her will, Forth left $3,000 for the construction of a church. St. James Episcopal Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan which was completed in 1868.

The Wright Museum

Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson (1833-1906) was the last known 'fugitive slave' in U.S. history. Lucy escaped via the Underground Railroad to PA then on to Cleveland, Ohio. Her owner, William Goshorn (WV), eventually located her, and she was returned under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave law. One can only imagine what she went through. She was eventually saved by a Union Captain around the time period of the execution of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Exact date is unknown.

Jessie Tarbox Beals, the first woman to join a newspaper staff as a photographer. (photo: the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute)

First behind the camera: Photojournalist Jessie Tarbox Beals

Before the Williams Sisters - Margaret and Matilda Peters, affectionately known as ‘Pete” and Repeat’. The Peters made history with their doubles record from the 1930s to the 1950s. At a time when African Americans were not allowed to compete against whites, the Peters sisters played in the American Tennis Association, which was created specifically to give blacks a forum to play tennis competitively. Inducted into the USTA’s Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame in 2003.

Mildred Adams Fenton (1899–1995) trained in paleontology and geology at the University of Iowa. She and her husband, Carroll Lane Fenton, wrote dozens of science books together. | 34 American Lady Scientists Who Changed The World

34 American Lady Scientists Who Changed The World

Violet McKenzie, Australia’s first female electrical engineer. During WW II she set up a signal instruction school, the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps, initially for women to teach them telegraphy so that they could replace men in this occupation. During World War Two over 12,000 servicemen were also trained in morse code by her. The training of female telegraphists ultimately led to the establishment of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service – the WRANS.

Australia’s first female electrical engineer

Happy Birthday to Inge Lehmann, the Woman Who Discovered Earth's Inner Core | Smart News | Smithsonian

History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places

Australian nurses 1914. P04233.001 | Australian War Memorial

P04233.001 | Australian War Memorial

Martha Ballard - A Midwive's Tale - Between 1785 and 1812, Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work and domestic life in Hallowell on the Kennebec River, District of Maine. The sometimes cryptic log of daily events, written with a quill pen and homemade ink, records numerous babies delivered and illnesses treated as she traveled by horse or canoe around the Massachusetts frontier in what is today the state of Maine. Her writing also illustrates struggles and tragedies within he

University Update - Other Articles

Isabel Wilkerson, who spent most of her career as a national correspondent and bureau chief at The New York Times, is the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism and was the first black American to win for individual reporting.

Isabel Wilkerson’s Sweeping ‘Warmth of Other Suns’

She holds records for longest space flight by a women, number of spacewalks for a female, and most spacewalk time. She is the only women to be commander of the International Space Station. She is Sunita Williams. She is a U.S. Navy veteran.

June 9, 1865: Librarian, trade union activist, and writer Helen Marot is born in Philadelphia. Marot’s work investigating child labor in New York led to the enactment of the state’s 1903 Compulsory Education Act. She served as executive secretary of the New York Women’s Trade Union League and was an advocate for children and women workers throughout her life.

June 9, 1865 | Today in Labor History

Lady Florence Norman, a suffragette, on her motor-scooter in 1916, travelling to work at offices in London where she was a supervisor. The scooter was a birthday present from her husband, the journalist and Liberal politician Sir Henry Norman.

This was the last known photograph taken of Dr. Anna J. Cooper in her Washington, D.C. home. Dr. Cooper was an American scholar and educator. Born a slave in Raleigh, North Carolina, when she earned her PhD in history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1924, Dr. Cooper became the fourth African-American woman to earn a doctoral degree. Photo Source: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History

Anna Julia Cooper's Biography - Anna Julia Cooper Project

On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington was attacked by the British. John Corbin, an artilleryman, was in charge of firing a small cannon at the top of a ridge. During an assault by the Hessians, John was killed, leaving his cannon unmanned. His wife Margaret, after witnessing his death, immediately took his place at the cannon. She fired away until her arm, chest, and jaw were hit by enemy fire. The British won the Battle, and Margret, was treated as a wounded soldier & paroled.

Mona Friedlander, an international women's ice hockey player. She had a pilots as well as a navigators license and spent many hours of "Army Cooperation" flying in front of anti-aircraft batteries to help them with the aiming and ranging of guns and searchlights

First African-American woman to achieve rank of major general in U.S. Army inspires many

1977 African American Poet and Playwright.Ntozake Shange's most famous work, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf: a choreopoem, opened in New York City in 1975.

Ntozake Shange - Picture of Ntozake Shange, 1977