Even More Astonishing Women
(2285 – 2250 BCE) was the first known author, writing poems, psalms and prayers for Sargon the Great as the high priestess in the city of Ur. She is known as “the Shakespeare of Sumerian literature.”
(17 July 1898 – 9 December 1991) was a pioneer of modern American photography. She is best known for her powerful black and white photos of New York City in the 1930s. She also is known as being responsible for the present day fame of the French photographer Eugene Atget, whose work she brought to America, after her formative years of working in Paris as an assistant to Man Ray, and subsequently establishing her successful portrait business there.
is the founding organizer of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the founder of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City.
(13 September 1843 – 6 December 1885) was an American socialite, active society hostess and an accomplished photographer. She has been cited as the inspiration for writer Henry James’s “Daisy Miller” and “The Portrait of a Lady.” Her work was widely admired, although her husband apparently would not allow her to become professional and discouraged any publication of her photographs.
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
(16 May 1718 – 9 January 1799) was an Italian mathematician and philosopher. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a Mathematics Professor at a University. Mathematician who figured out the formula for the bell shaped curve still used today.
(23 June 1889 – 5 March 1966) Anna Akhmatova is regarded as one of the greatest Russian poets. Besides poetry, which constitutes the lion’s share of her literary legacy, she wrote prose—primarily memoirs, autobiographical pieces, and literary scholarship, including her outstanding essays on Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. She also produced many first-rate translations of Italian, French, Armenian, and Korean poetry.
(born 800- died 880) was an Arab Muslim woman who is credited for founding The University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco in 859 CE. The madrasa (a college for Islamic instruction) she founded is still in operation today. It is the oldest continually operating educational institution in the world and is sometimes referred to as the world’s oldest university, though it did not officially become a university until the 1950s. The mosque is also still in operation, and is one of the largest in North Africa.
Micaela Almonester Pontalba
(November 6, 1795 – April 20, 1874) was a wealthy New Orleans-born Creole aristocrat, businesswoman and real estate designer and developer who endures as one of the most recalled and dynamic personalities in the city’s history. Micaela was responsible for the design and construction of the famous Pontalba Buildings in Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter. In 1855, she had built the Hôtel de Pontalba in Paris, where she lived until her death in 1874.
(1895 Mar 23 – 2001 Mar 13) was the first Filipino woman to earn a Ph.D. In 1985, she became the National Scientist of the Philippines.
(November 24, 1886 – October 19, 1973) was the American founder, editor and publisher of the art and literary magazine The Little Review, which published a collection of modern American, English and Irish writers between 1914 and 1929. The periodical is most noted for introducing many prominent American and British writers of the 20th century, such as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot in the United States, and publishing the first thirteen chapters of James Joyce’s then-unpublished novel, Ulysses.
(February 19, 1866–June 27, 1953) was hardly a likely candidate to invent the windshield wiper—especially considering she filed her patent before Henry Ford even started manufacturing cars.
Anderson’s invention came about during a trip to New York City when the Alabama-born inventor noticed that streetcar drivers had to open the windows of their cars when it rained in order to see. As a solution, Anderson invented a swinging arm device with a rubber blade that was operated by the driver from within the vehicle using a lever.
Many people were initially leery of Anderson’s windshield wiper invention, thinking it would distract drivers, but by 1916 windshield wipers were standard on most vehicles. Unfortunately, Anderson failed to reap financial benefits from her invention during her lifetime, and as a result she’s been relegated to a footnote in the history of automobiles.
(24 March 1923 – 26 July 1971) was an American photographer best known for her intimate black-and-white portraits. Arbus often photographed people on the fringes of society, including the mentally ill, transgender people, and circus performers. Today, her works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
(3 January 1897 – 1 October 1979) had a twenty-year directing career that made her the first woman director in the Directors Guild of America and the first to direct a film with sound. Katherine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell and Lucille Ball all got their starts in her films. She is also one of the first recognized queer directors.
(16 March 1799 – 9 June 1871) was an English botanist and, some argue, the very first female photographer, most noted for using photography in her books on various plants. She is known for her work with cyanotypes and became a member of the Botanical Society in London in 1839, one of the few scientific societies which was open to women.
(March 17, 1866 – June 9, 1952) was one of America’s earliest and most prolific female photographers. Though best known for her documentary work, Austen was an artist with a strong aesthetic sensibility. Furthermore, she was a landscape designer, a master tennis player, and the first woman on Staten Island to own a car. A rebel who broke away from the ties of her Victorian environment, Alice Austen created her own independent life.
Laura Caterina Bassi
(31 Oct 1711 – 1778 Feb 20) was the first woman to become a physics professor was Laura Caterina Bassi. A prodigy, her education was taken over by the family doctor (a professor at the university). At 21, she was the first female student admitted at Bologna Academy of Sciences. She defended her theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Her theses were influenced by Newtonian optics and light. She got her degree. Again, she defended another set of theses to ultimately be
awarded an honorary post as professor in physics. She was not allowed to teach, but gave lectures and demonstrations at her home. When another early champion of hers (Lambertini) became Pope, he created a special group of 25 scientists to do research, the Benedettini. Bassi lobbied for the 25th position, won it and finally, in 1776, was appointed the first woman named to a chair of experimental physics at the university.
(5 May 1921 – 12 November 2013), was an English code-breaker at Bletchley Park during World War II. Her work was one of the keys to the success of D-Day. In December 1941 she broke a message between Belgrade and Berlin that enabled Dilly Knox’s team to work out the wiring of the Abwehr Enigma, an Enigma machine previously thought to be unbreakable. While at Bletchley Park she met Keith Batey, a mathematician and fellow codebreaker whom she married in 1942.
(November 4, 1942 – May 30, 2019) Patricia Bath is the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986. Bath became the first African American surgeon at the UCLA medical center and co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.
(born 1935 Mar 5) is an Italian photographer and photojournalist, best known for her work on the Mafia. Married at 16, she had three daughters. After her divorce, she took up photojournalism with a fervor. In ‘93, prosecutors in Palermo, indicting Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, found two 1979 photographs of Andreotti hanging out with Nino Salvo, a big shot in the mafia. Andreotti denied ever knowing Salvo, but Battaglia’s photos were the evidence that nailed him to the Sicilian mafia. The shots brought him down. Letizia received the W. Eugene Smith grant in Humanistic Photography and the Photography Lifetime Achievement of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography.
(nee Craddock) – (26 March 1633 – 1699) was an English portrait painter. She became one of the most important portrait painters of 17th-century England, and is described as the first professional female English painter. Her portrait of Rachel Carew smiling so impressed Daphne du Maurier whilst at Antony House Plymouth that it formed an inspiration for her novel My Cousin Rachel.