Lady Deborah Moody: She was the first female landowner, and the only woman known to have started a village in the New American Colonies.
Lucretia Mott: one of the original American Female activists. She dedicated her life to speaking out against racial and gender injustice- in a time where it was seen as improper for women to have a voice in society.
Martha McFarlane McGee Bell: Heroine in the American Revolution due to her service as a spy. Her services as a nurse kept her in touch with events, and she was often able to penetrate enemy lines and report on troop movements.
Native American Trailblazers
Sacagawea: As a pregnant 14-year-old, Sacagawea led 32 explorers (including Lewis & Clark) on an expedition to find the Pacific Ocean. She gave birth en-route and travelled the rest of the eight THOUSAND miles with her baby on her back. Not only did she guide them through every natural condition, but she also translated for, cooked for, and mended all the men’s clothes; all while never receiving the payment owed- her husband took that.
Pocahontas: Powhatan Native American woman who aided the English colonists by offering guidance and food in times of need. She is well-known for her act of bravery and kindness in saving the life of John Smith by placing her head upon his own at the moment of his execution.
Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin: attorney, clerk in the Office of Indian Affairs, and Native American rights activist. During the suffrage movement, Marie focused on the value of traditional Native cultures amidst the modern world. In 1914, she was the first Native American student to graduate from the Washington College of Law.
Ada Deer: Wisconsinite with many notable achievements including: First member of the Menominee Tribe to graduate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison & the first to receive a master's degree; First woman to serve as chair of the Menominee Restoration Committee; 1975 Pollitzer Award-winner, Ethical Cultural Society, N.Y. ; and First Native American woman to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Ho-Poe-Kaw "Glory of the Morning": first woman every described in the written history of Wisconsin and the only known female chief of the Ho-Chunk.
Karen Ann Hoffman: Portage County/Oneida Nation artist that has expressed herself for 30+ years through Haudenosaunee Raised Beadwork (AKA Iroquois Raised Beadwork). This type of beadwork is known for lines of beads that arch above the textile surface for a three-dimensional effect- often sewn onto velvet. Hoffman is known nationwide for her reimagination of this art form.
Clara Barton was named, "Angel of the Battlefield" for her first aid heroism during the Civil War, Barton was instrumental in founding the American Red Cross in 1881
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, escaped, and went on to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, using the network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She was never caught.
Mary Edwards Walker, M.D., was an American abolitionist, prohibitionist, prisoner of war and surgeon. She is the ONLY woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor. There are more than 3,500 male recipients of this honor.
Maria Isabella "Belle" Boyd was one of the Confederacy's most notorious spies. She operated from her father's hotel in Virginia, and provided valuable information to General Stonewall Jackson in 1862. After the war, She fled to, and is buried in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
Cordelia Harvey was a philanthropist, nurse, and teacher who organized relief for Wisconsin soldiers and their children during and after the Civil War.
Ladies of the Wild West
Calamity Jane- Well known due to her connection (romantic or otherwise) with Wild Bill Hickok, Martha Jane Canary "Calamity Jane" was a skilled marksman, with a loud mouth and louder behavior. She was an Army Scout, bullwhacker, nurse, cook, prostitute, prospector, gambler, heavy drinker, and one of the most foul-mouthed people in the West. She was NOT one to be told what to do.
Stagecoach Mary- "Stagecoach Mary" Fields, was born a slave in Tennessee, and went on to become one of the first female entrepreneurs, stagecoach driver, pioneer, and the first African-American female star-route mail carrier in the United States.
Jane Hart: An American Quaker, who hosted the Seneca Falls meeting of Lucretia Mott & Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Known as one of the foremost figures of the movement for women's equality and the force behind the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first convention to be called for the sole purpose of discussing women's rights.
Jeanette Rankin: First female elected to the House of Representatives in 1916.
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee: At age 16, she was a leading lady in New York's suffrage movement by planning parades and events to advocate for women's rights.
Carrie Chapman Catt: Wisconsin American Suffrage Leader. Catt served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900 to 1904 and 1915 to 1920.
Kathryn F. Clarenbach: Wisconsin advocate- First Chairperson of National Organization for Women.
Belle Case La Follette: Women's suffrage, peace, and Civil Rights activist in Wisconsin. She worked with the women's peace party during World War I.
Susan B Anthony: Leader in the American Anti-Slavery Society and turned her life's devotion to the women's suffrage movement.
Amelia Jenks Bloomer: Even though she did not create the women's clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy.
Alice Paul: American Quaker, suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders and strategists of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
20th Century Civil Rights Activists
Mary Ellen Pleasant was an African American Abolitionist, businesswoman, and entrepreneur.
Ida B Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist and militant civil rights leader. She was a co-founder of the NAACP and first president of the Negro Fellowship League.
Lucy Stone was an abolitionist, suffragist, and organizer promoting rights for women. In 1847, she became the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree.
Frances Harper was an abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer. In 1845, she was one of the first African American women to be published in the United States.
Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and a Navy rear admiral. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer which was used in war efforts in WWII.
Sandra Gregory was a Wisconsin General in the Air Force. During her 29-year career, Gregory served in a variety positions throughout the United States Department of Defense.
Ella E Gibson Hobart was the first female Army Chaplin (religious leader dedicated to serving Soldiers and families worldwide). She was also from Wisconsin!
Anne Alinder Korbel was Wisconsin's first Women's Army Corps Officer Candidate. During World War II, Alinder served in Washington, D.C. at the Pentagon as a member of General George C. Marshall's staff before being assigned to the Allied Control Council in Germany during the summer of 1945.
Ineva Reilly Baldwin championed the "Wisconsin Idea". She was a US Coast Guard Lieutenant commander during WWII, which was the highest rank ever attained by a woman at that time.
Naomi Fern Parker Fraley is considered to be the model for the iconic "We Can Do It!" poster during WWII. She was a female War Worker who worked on aircraft assembly at the Naval Air Station Alameda.
Mildred Fish-Harnack was a Wisconsin historian and Nazi Resistance Fighter. After being put into labor camps for 6 years due to being "not Nazi enough", she became the ONLY American civilian to be executed on the direct order of Hitler.
Serena Williams is considered to be the greatest female tennis player of all time. She is the former world No. 1 in women's single tennis, has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles- which is the most by any player since 1968 (second-most of all time), and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus. Including prize money, she is currently the highest-earning female athlete of all time.
Gwen Jorgensen is an Olympian from Wisconsin! She is a professional triathlete that represented the United States in triathlon in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics- where she won the USA's first ever triathlon gold medal with a time of 1 hour, 56 minutes, and 16 seconds.
Simone Biles is an American gymnast, World Champion, Olympian, Mental Health Advocate, and a Sexual Assault Survivor and Advocate. She has 7 Olympic and 25 World Championship medals making her tied for the title of "most decorated gymnast of all time" and for the most Olympic medals won by an American female gymnast. After winning 4 gold and 1 bronze in the 2016 Summer Olympics, she withdrew from the 2020 (2021) Summer Olympics after being hit with "the twisties" (loss of air balance awareness) and chose to focus on physical safty and mental health. She went on to win bronze individually and silver with the USA team.
Air & Space:
Amelia Earhart pioneered females in aviation. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and had many other aviation firsts before disappearing in the South Pacific while attempting to fly around the world.
Sally Ride was an American astronaut, physicist, and first American woman in space (third woman overall).
Laurel Clark, from Wisconsin, was an accomplished doctor, Navy Captain, and NASA astronaut who died in the Columbia Space Shuttle in 2003.
Nancy Harkness Love earned her pilot's license at 16, worked as a test pilot and air racer in the 1930s, and and American pilot and commander during World War II. She convinced the Air Force to create a group of female pilots to transport aircraft from factories to air bases. This turned into the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, and later the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Love commanded this unit, and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserve in 1948.
Georgia O'Keeffe was a feminist artist. She is known for her floral paintings and is called the "Mother of American modernism"
Louise Nevelson was a sculptor known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculpture art. She broke through stereotypes that only men's artwork could be large-scale.
Brenda Gingles was a loved Stevens Point local and successful jeweler. She was the the curator at UWSP, owned and operated the Art Connection in CenterPoint Mall and was the first Director of the Stevens Point Riverfront Arts Center. She also was a long time host and member in the Hidden Studio Art Tour, and Festival of the Arts organizations.
Retta Scott was the first woman to receive screen credit as an animator at the Walt Disney Animation Studios!
Edith Wharton was the First woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1921 with her novel "The Age of Innocence". Her stories were influenced by New York's upper class and the lifestyles of the Roaring 20s.
Margaret Fuller pioneered feminist work in the Nineteenth Century. She edited for Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote literary/social criticism in Europe for the New York Tribune, and became America's first female correspondent.
Helen Keller triumphed over an early childhood illness that left her blind and deaf, and went on to graduate with honors from Radcliffe College. She became a world-famous lecturer, author, and advocate of rights for people with disabilities.
Betty Friedan was a feminist writer and activist. Her book, "The Feminine Mystique" is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th centruy. In 1966, she co-founded & was first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men".
Toni Morrison was a Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Humanities Medal, Nobel Prize in Literature. and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction-winning author. Her novels and essays examined the African-American experience in America.
Amy Tan is an award-winning Chinese American writer and novelist who wrote The Joy Luck Club. This book explores the relationship between Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters. It has been translated to 25 different languages and made into a major-motion picture.
Zona Gale was a Wisconsin Author & Playwright and the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was the Wisconsin Author who wrote the children's "Little House" series. This series highlighted the life of her pioneer family as they moved and settled in the American West in the 1800s.
Emily Dickinson was a reclusive poet of hundreds of inventive, original poems. While when she was alive, she was not well-known, she is not regarded as the most famous woman poet of 19th-century America.
Maya Angelou was a poet, historian, author, civil rights activist, producer, singer, dancer, actress, and director who worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She was the first female inaugural poet in US presidential history.
Amanda Gorman was the most recent, and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. She is an activist who focuses on topics of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization.
Civil Rights Activists
Ella Baker helped formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr. was president of. She was a key leader in organizing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Rosa Parks was an Activist arrested for sitting in the "Whites Only" section of a bus which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has honored her as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".
Coretta Scott King was an author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. She was also a singer who often incorporated music into her civil rights work.
Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to attend an All-White elementary school in Louisiana on November 14, 1960. She continues to be a civil rights activist to this day at age 66.
Margaret Sanger was a birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse.
Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist and speaker on topics such as: women's rights, nuclear proliferation, race relations, environmental pollution, and world hunger.
Gerda Lerner played a pivotal role in the development of Women's and Gender Studies with historians. She was an Austrian-born Wisconsinite!
Electa Quinney was a Mohican and member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. She founded one of the first schools and was the first woman to teach in a public school in the territory which would be Wisconsin.
Margarethe "Molly" Schurz was a German-born American who opened the first Kindergarten in the US in Watertown, WI.
Marion Bannach was the oldest daughter born to Polish immigrants in Portage County. Her parents spoke fluent Polish, German, and learned to speak English after arriving in the U.S. Marion graduated from UW-Stevens Point (then, the State Normal School) in 1913 and went on to be a teacher and the superintendent of Portage County Schools from 1918-1941.
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose influential writings and novels sparked the global environmental movement.
Emma Toft was a conservationist who became known as "Wisconsin's First Lady of Conservation" following her efforts to preserve an ancient forest in Door County.
Carrie Frost was instrumental in making Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the “Fly Tackle Capital of the World.” Frost shared a passion for fly fishing with her father John and felt that the European flies available to them were not adequate or enticing to the local trout and bass. Frost spent much time investigating and researching insects and bait, then spent as much time attempting to replicate them in an artificial fly.
Milly Zantow was a Wisconsite who pioneered the plastics recycling movement and invented the numbreed-triangle system used for indentifying different kinds of plastics.
Frances Hamerstrom and her husband Frederick, also a wildlife biologist, helped to stabilize Wisconsin’s prairie chicken population after much of that bird’s habitat was destroyed by farming and other development. In 1949 she became the second woman to work as a wildlife professional in Wisconsin.
Females in Medicine
Dorothea Dix was a crusader for mentally ill rights in North America & Europe. She founded/improved over 30 hospitals for the mentally ill and influenced government legislation in her research. In 1861, she was appointed first Superintendent of US Army Nurses
Juliet Severance was a Whitewater physician interested in anti-slavery and women's rights movements as a teenager. She became a teacher and used her power of speech at rallies in conventions. When she became sick, she went back to school to study medicine and graduated with her M.D. at 25. She spent her career studying alternatives to scientific medicine and provided free medical care to working women.
Anne Schierl was one of the two women to graduate from the first UW medical school that enrolled women. (UW-Madison). She moved to Stevens Point and became the first female anesthesiologist at St. Michael's Hospital. Anne was instrumental in founding community programs including: elementary school Sex Education, Home Free (Safe Ride Home), MORP, Portage County Alliance for Youth, Community Capers, Shoe String Players, Community Foundation of Central WI, Boys & Girls Club of Portage County, ArtsBash, and Riverfront Jazz Festival.
Mary Ann Menard was Wisconsin's first doctor and was Wisconsin's ONLY doctor until 1816. The next closest place to receive medical care was St. Louis or Mackinac. Her knowledge of the healing arts were put to the test when her one-year-old granddaughter was scalped and left for dead. Mary Anne single-handedly treated her by covering her exposed brain with a silver plate until the skin healed. She made a full recovery and lived to be more than 80 years old.
Ruth Gilfry was Portage County's first public health nurse and pioneered the public health nursing program protecting and promoting the health of all citizens.
Women in News
Nellie Bly was a journalist, industrialist, inventor, and charity worker was was known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days.
Gloria Marie Steinem is a feminist journalist and social political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the 1960s/70s.Steinem was a columnist for New York magazine, and a co-founder of Ms. magazine.
Greta Van Susteren is a commentator, lawyer, and former television news anchor for CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from Appleton, WI.
Theodora W. Youmans was an American journalist, editor, and women's suffrage activist from Wisconsin. As president of the Wisconsin Women's Suffrage Association, Youmans played an important role in securing Wisconsin women the right to vote.
Anne McDowell was the first American woman to publish a newspaper completely run by women "Women's Advocate"; it circulated weekly with the goal of “the elevation of the female industrial class”.
Jovita Idár was a Mexican-American Journalist and Activist who wrote under a pseudonym to expose the poor living conditions of Mexican-American workers. She supported the Mexican revolution and was the first president of the League of Mexican women, which offered free education to Mexican children in Texas.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to hold her own press conference and she only allowed female reporters to attend. She advocated for women's roles in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. Following FDR's death, she remained active in politics for the remaining 17 years of her life.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the US Congress, the first African American to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to ever run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis is known as one of the U.S.'s most elegant First Ladies. She worked to restore the White House to its original elegance and protect everything in it. She established the White House Historical Association and hired a curator from the Smithsonian to catalog all the belongings.
Sandra Day O'Connor was the first female associate judge of the Supreme Court- the first female nominated and confirmed. Before that, she was the first female majority leader in a state senate (in Arizona). In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Condoleezza Rice was the first African American woman to hold several positions, including Secretary of State. Rice helped successfully negotiate several agreements in the Middle East and worked to improve human rights issues in Iran.
Kamala Harris is the 49th and current vice president of the United States. She is the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well as the first African American and first Asian American vice president.
Ntxhais "Chai" Moua is the first Hmong woman to serve in elected office in Portage County and as county supervisor, she has advocated to keep the Portage County Healthcare Center public and pushed for the creation of a Diversity and Inclusiveness Affairs Committee for Portage County (among many other accomplishments).
Hon. Patricia Gorence was Wisconsin's first female federal magistrate in Milwaukee.
"Barbra" Streisand has an impressive six-decade career as a singer, actress, filmmaker, and one of the few EGOT performers (won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony).
Lucille Ball was an American actress, comedian, model, studio executive, and producer. She won winning four Emmy Awards, was the first female inductee into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame, and was posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.
Meryl Streep is definitely considered one of the best actresses in her generation. Streep has collected 21 Oscar nominations in her lifetime and has won three. She has yet to become an EGOT, but has been nominated for each of those 4 awards.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She has won 28 Grammy Awards, 26 MTV Video Music Awards, 24 NAACP Image Awards, 31 BET Awards, and 17 Soul Train Music Awards; all of which are more than any other singer. She is one of the world's best-selling artists having sold 118 million records worldwide.
Elizabeth Taylor was an English-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. In the 1960s, she became the highest paid movie star and staid in the public light for the rest of her life.
Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer, known as "The First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella". She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, timing, intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. She won 13 Grammy Awards in her nearly 50-year career.
Aretha Franklin was the “Queen of Soul”. She recorded 112 Billboard-charted singles including 77 on the Hot 100 list, 17 to-ten pop singles, and 20 #1 R&B singles. She won 18 Grammy Awards including the first 8 awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, a Living Legend honor, and Lifetime Achievement Award. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time with more than 75 million records sold.