Women Make History: Stories we should have learned in school

Mary Ware Dennett Inaugural Issue

Mary Ware Dennett, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris

Welcome to the first issue of Women Make History, a monthly newsletter spotlighting stories of women who opened doors – sometimes just a crack – and blazed a trail for other women. Too often, the ordinary women who spoke up when it mattered or who took risks that initiated change, have been quickly forgotten. Women like Mary Ware Dennett. Read more

Eunice Newton Foote May 2024

Eunice Newton Foote

In the early 19th century, when women couldn’t vote, own property, or speak at public gatherings, Eunice Newton Foote discovered the effect of greenhouse gas on the earth's atmosphere. An amateur scientist and relative of Sir Isaac Newton, Foote was also an inventor, suffragist, and landscape painter. Read more

Rosalie Barrow April 2024

Rosalie Barrow

Born in 1877 to a wealthy family in New York City, Rosalie Barrow Edge used her privilege and her invincible will to set the course for environmental activism in the 20th century. Her visionary approach to wildlife conservation gave the world Hawk Mountain, the first sanctuary for birds of prey in the U.S... Read more

Jovita Idar March 2024

Jovita Idar

Educator, journalist, and feminist, Jovita Idar became the voice for Mexican-American civil rights in the early 20th century, especially for children and women. She also championed bilingual education as a means of preserving Mexican heritage and culture.

Born in Laredo, Texas in 1885, Idar was the second of eight children. Her father was the editor and eventual owner of the progressive Spanish-language newspaper La Crónica, so Idar was exposed to... Read more

Hettie Anderson February 2024

Hettie Anderson

After escaping the violence of Jim Crow segregation in the South, in the 1890s and early 20th century, art model Hettie Anderson came to embody the face, figure, and spirit of America in monumental sculptures, paintings, and U.S. currency. Muse to many of the leading artists of the Gilded Age, Anderson portrayed the physical and spiritual representations of ideals such as Liberty, Fame, and Victory. Read more

Maggie Lena Walker January 2024

Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker was born into slavery in 1864 in Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederacy. A brilliant entrepreneur, Walker became the first woman in the U.S. to found a bank.

She launched many successful businesses and was a celebrated philanthropist and ... Read more

Ida Lewis November 2023

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

In 1865, Susan La Flesche Picotte was born on the wind-scorched prairie of Nebraska, during what would be the Omaha tribe's last buffalo hunt. The word, Omaha, means against the current, and Picotte would live her life accordingly. Read more

Ida Lewis October 2023

Margaret Crane

In 1967 when 26-year-old graphic designer Margaret Crane took a job with a pharmaceutical giant outside New York, she never imagined that her greatest contribution to the company––and to women worldwide––would be a scientific invention. Using a paper clip holder, reflective mylar, a test tube, and an eye dropper...Read more

Ida Lewis September 2023

Bessie Coleman

In the air and on the ground, Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman defied the laws of gravity and racial and gender discrimination. In the face of what seemed to be the impossible, Coleman always managed to find a way. Read more

Ida Lewis Summer 2023

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Although she died more than fifty years ago, the legacy of labor organizer, feminist, and civil rights activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is still hotly debated today.

Born in 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire, Flynn was always on the side of marginalized workers...Read more

Ida Lewis June 2023

Ida Lewis

In 1869, Ida Lewis captivated the country’s imagination as “the bravest woman in America” for her daring rescue of two soldiers whose boat had capsized in Newport Harbor, RI. Until her death in 1911, Lewis would ... Read more

Frances Benjamin Johnston May 2023

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1966) was among the first professional and nationally acclaimed women photographers in the U.S. Her groundbreaking career spanned more than 60 years during which time she served as White House photographer to five administrations. Read more

Nina Allender April 2023

Nina Evans Allender

With her sharp wit and artistic talent, the political cartoons of Nina Evans Allender not only captured the news of the week, but also the spirit of women's suffrage in the early 20th century. Her work helped to shape public opinion surrounding the cause of women's rights. Read more

Mary Jane Colter March 2023

Mary Jane Colter

In an era when there were very few female architects, Mary Jane Colter (1869-1958), broke with traditional European design to create groundbreaking commercial buildings with a distinctly Southwest American flare. Utilizing natural materials from surrounding landscapes and artifacts inspired by indigenous cultures, Colter's unique style paid tribute to Native American, Spanish Colonial, and Arts and Crafts elements. Read more

Edna Lewis February 2023

Edna Lewis

The granddaughter of emancipated slaves, Edna Regina Lewis was born in 1916 in a small farming community in Virginia. Later known as the Grande Dame of Southern cooking, Lewis inspired generations to return to farm-to-table cooking, and was among the first Black women to author a cookbook without concealing her race or gender. Read more

Ellen Craft January 2023

Ellen Craft

In 1826, Ellen Craft was born into slavery in Georgia. Twenty-two years later, she disguised her race, gender, and social status, to enable her and her husband’s escape to freedom in Philadelphia. The couple became celebrated abolitionists, political activists, and educators. Read more

Pauli Murray December 2022

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, (she/they) is one of the most important and––least well-known–– feminist and civil rights scholars of the 20th century.

Born Angelina Pauline Murray in Maryland in 1910 to bi-racial parents, Murray became the first Black person to earn a Doctorate degree from Yale Law School, was a co-founder of... Read more

Deborah Sampson November 2022

Deborah Sampson

In 1782, Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army. She fought for nearly two years in the Revolutionary War before her secret was discovered. Although other women concealed their gender in order to join the fight, Sampson was the first whose service was recognized by the government and the only woman to receive a full pension. Read more

Alice Guy Blaché October 2022

Alice Guy Blaché

Pioneer of the French and American movie industry, Alice Guy Blaché is the first woman to direct or produce narrative films and the first and only to own a major studio.

Alice Ida Antoinette Guy was born near Paris in 1873. At the age of 21, she talked her way... Read more

Florence Price September 2022

Florence Price

Classical composer Florence Price made history in 1933 when she became the first African- American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. Her Symphony No. 1 in E Minor debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair to packed house of more than 4000 people. Price received multiple standing ovations and critical acclaim. Read more

Emma Rowena Gatewood August 2022

Emma Rowena Gatewood

On May 3, 1955, 67-year-old Emma Rowena Gatewood told her adult children that she was going for a walk. Four months and 2,168 miles later, “Grandma” Gatewood, as she was known, became the first woman to solo hike the Appalachian Trail. Read more

Sui Sin Far June 2022

Sui Sin Far

More than 100 years before literary giants Amy Tan and Celeste Ng brought the Asian American experience to life, Sui Sin Far was a prolific author of fiction for both children and adults. She was also a travel writer, essayist, and among the first journalists to document the harsh realities facing Chinese immigrants in... Read more

Karine Jean-Pierre May 2022

Karine Jean-Pierre

On her first day as President Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre made the statement above to reporters. She continued: “If it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me, I would not be here.” Read more

Mary Ellen Pleasant April 2022

Mary Ellen Pleasant

Self-made millionaire Mary Ellen Pleasant never learned to read or write, yet she became a notorious anti-slavery crusader and the secret funder of abolitionist John Brown’s failed insurrection at Harper’s Ferry.

Born in Philadelphia in 1814 to parents of mixed race, Pleasant was known for her quick wit and street smarts. Read more

Dr. Gladys West March 2022

Dr. Gladys West

The next time you use a map or location service on your phone, laptop, or other electronicdevice, give a nod to Dr. Gladys West, an African American mathematician. Defying poverty, sexism, and Jim Crow segregation, her work was critical to the invention theGlobal Positioning System commonly known as GPS. Read more

Marjorie Merriweather Post January 2022

Marjorie Merriweather Post

When Marjorie Merriweather Post inherited $27 million in 1914, (about $620 million in 2020 dollars), she became the wealthiest woman in the world. During her lifetime (1887– 1973), Post was renowned for her beauty, lavish lifestyle, and vast collections of art and jewelry. But Post was also one of the most astute, pragmatic, and visionary business leaders and philanthropists in the first half of the 20th century. Read more

Julia DeForest Tuttle December 2021

Julia DeForest Tuttle

Julia DeForest Tuttle (1849-1898) was an American businesswoman, visionary, and developer of what became the City of Miami. She is recognized as the only woman in the U.S. to found a major city.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in January 1849, Julia Sturtevant married at the age of 19 and had two children. When her husband, an iron magnate, died ten years later and left her in debt, the resourceful Tuttle... Read more

Elizabeth Magie November 2021

Elizabeth Magie

Game designer, inventor, feminist, and economic activist, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie created the game later known as Monopoly. Whether writing short stories and poems, working as a newspaper reporter, or performing as a comedian and stage actressMagie used social engagement and entertainment as a tool to bring about political and economic change. Read more

Pauli Murray October 2021

Pauli Murray

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, (she/they) is one of the most important and – least well-known – feminist and civil rights scholars of the 20th century.

Born Angelina Pauline Murray in Maryland in 1910 to bi-racial parents, Murray became the first Black person to earn a Doctorate degree from Yale Law School, was a co-founder of the... Read more

Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez Summer 2021

Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez, Madame CJ Walker

Born in Los Angeles in 1881, Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez was a pioneering Latinx suffragist, educator, and activist for the preservation of Mexican-American heritage.

After graduating from Pasadena High School in 1897, Lopez earned a degree in education at what later became UCLA. She began her career teaching English as a second language to high school students... Read more

Minerva Hamilton Hoyt June 2021

Minerva Hamilton Hoyt

Minerva Hamilton Hoyt (1866–1945) became the champion of desert ecosystems when she moved to Pasadena from New York in the late 1890s. When her husband and son died in close succession, she found comfort sleeping under the desert sky, listening to the winds blow through the Joshua trees. She later remarked that this landscape was one of “…strange and inexpressible beauty, of mystery and singular aloofness, which is yet so filled with peace.” Read more

Chien-Shiung Wu May 2021

Chien-Shiung Wu

Although she was eventually known as the First Lady of Physics, Chien-Shiung Wu fought to overcome gender and racial prejudice her entire life. She was born in China in 1912, in an era when it was unusual for girls to attend school. With her parents’ support, Wu received the equivalent of a high school education. In 1936, she immigrated to the U.S. and earned a coveted spot in the graduate physics program... Read more

Zitkála-Šá April 2021

Zitkála-Šá, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

In the late 19th century, when the U.S. government was attempting to erase Native Americans and their cultures, Zitkála-Šá rose up to become the voice and energy of the opposition. A fierce activist for Native American civil rights, Zitkála-Šá (aka Gertrude Simmons Bonnin) wove music, writing, and political activism into her fight for full equality of Indigenous people and the celebration of Native cultures. Read more

Seraph Young March 2021

Seraph Young, Dr. Joycelyn Elders

On Valentine’s Day in 1870, Seraph Young became the first woman in the U.S. to cast a ballot. The 23-year-old voted in a Salt Lake City municipal election two days after the Utah Territory unanimously passed legislation giving women full voting rights.

Utah women were the first to have the opportunity to exercise their new political power. Read more

Lucia True Ames Mead March 2021

Lucia True Ames Mead, Mary Ware Dennett

At an early age, Lucia True Ames Mead, 1856 – 1936, adopted a global perspective of allegiance to humanity, rather than to political boundaries formed by nations. She opposed elitism in all forms and dedicated her life to social, educational, legal, and economic equality for all. Read more

Angelina Grimke Weld February 2021

Naomi Long Madgett, Jarena Lee, and Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke Weld was a White abolitionist and supporter of women’s suffrage. Her niece, also named Angelina Grimke in her aunt’s honor, was considered Black under the law. In the 19th century, anyone with “one ancestor of Black ancestry (“one drop” of Black blood), was legally Black.” Read more

Amanda Gorman January 2021

Katalin Karikó, Amanda Gorman, and Edith Wilson

Many of us cheered and even cried as Senator Kamala Harris became the first woman – and first person of color – sworn in as Vice President of the United States. But this remarkable moment yielded to even greater inspiration when twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman delivered her poem, The Hill We Climb. Read more

Beryl Markham December 2020

Rosalind Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, and Beryl Markham

In 1936 Beryl Markham (1902-1987) became the first person to make a solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic from Europe to North America. Because the plane is traveling against prevailing winds, the east-west route requires more stamina, time, and fuel. Markham chose this route because it hadn't been done. Read more