Even More Astonishing Women
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
(1788 Oct 24 – 1879 Apr 30), an author who was homeschooled because her mother believed women could enjoy uncommon advantages via education. At 18, Sarah taught school and began to write poetry. She married at 24, had five children. Her husband died. To care for the family, she published a book of poetry. Her next book, (poems for children), contained the most famous poem in the English language, “Mary had a little lamb…” Sarah became the first editor of Ladies’ Magazine, the first US magazine written for women. She then joined Godey’s Lady’s Book and worked there for four decades. Sarah also founded the Seaman’s Aid Society to assist surviving families of Boston sailors who died at sea. Her novel, “Northwood” introduced the idea of Thanksgiving as a national day of sharing. Sarah pursued this idea until her death in 1879. Congress ultimately passed a Thanksgiving National Holiday bill into law in 1941.
(December 20, 1911 – January 13, 2009) was an American writer of fiction. Grew up during the depression. After she turned 50 she wrote 23 books and some short stories. A past president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of PEN, the worldwide association of writers, she was a National Book Award finalist three times, won an O. Henry Award.
(17 February 1906 – 25 July 1996) was a Puerto Rican educator and revolutionary. She helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in 1931, and was a leader in the Jayuya Uprising against the United States in 1950. Brought to trial after the uprising, she was accused of killing a police officer and burning down the post office, and was sentenced to sixty years in prison. However, after seventeen years she was fully pardoned by the Puerto Rican governor. She continued to be an advocate for justice until her death.
(1 February 1921 – 10 January 2016) was one of the highest ranking and most honored women at the code breaking National Security Agency after a career extending from World War II through much of the Cold War. She was the first woman to serve as deputy director of the NSA. Among top federal honors she received were the Defense Department’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the National Security Medal.
(10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.
(born 1966 Mar 22) was the youngest elected Senator in the history of the Philippines. Pia pushed through and passed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act; the Expanded Breastfeeding Promoting Act (breastfeeding stations at work); the Expanded Senior Citizens Act. She pushed for the enactment of the ‘Magna Carta of Women’ seeking to end all forms of gender discrimination, and many other laws and assurances too numerous to mention. As a triathlete, Pia also advocates for women’s sports and the rights of athletes. Ms. Gayetano is a lawyer and the mother of two daughters, one son and a foster son. She owns a café, Slice, in Taguig City.
Margaret Chase Smith
(December 14, 1897 – May 29, 1995) was an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, she served as a U.S Representative (1940-1949) and a U.S. Senator (1949-1973) from Maine. She was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress, and the first woman to represent Maine in either. A moderate Republican, she is best remembered for her 1950 speech, Declaration of Conscience
(Born: 1948) – born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a town just 40 miles from the Mexican border. After earning two master’s degrees, Chávez went to work on her first novel, the draft of which was 1,200 pages. She and her editor whittled it down to 456 pages, and the resulting book, Face of an Angel, was published in 1994 to high critical acclaim. She grew up in a family that loved to tell stories, and she acknowledges her roots in the oral storytelling tradition, calling herself a “performance writer.”
Helen Churchill Candee
(October 5, 1858 – August 23, 1949) was an American author, journalist, interior decorator, feminist, and geographer. Today, she is best known as a survivor of the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912, and for her later work as a travel writer and explorer of southeast Asia.
Kathleen Neal Cleaver
(born 1945 May 13), in Dallas, TX; she was an ex-revolutionary Black Panther leader, married to Eldridge
Cleaver, mother, lawyer, professor at Emory, researcher at Yale, expert in African-American studies, activist. Kathleen
still maintains her commitment to social and economic justice.
(1936 Jun 27 – 2010 Feb 13) was Poet Laureate of Baltimore for 7 years, winner of the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, multiple Pulitzer nominations, her poem “homage to my hips,” from her “Two-Headed Women” collection celebrated the African-American female body as a source of power, sexuality, pride and freedom.” Lucille’s poetry is considered clean, lean, precise and essential.
Catharine Trotter Cockburn
(16 August 1679 – 11 May 1749) was an English playwright, essayist, poet, and philosopher. She was one of the earliest defenders of John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding.’ In a time when Locke was seen as a dangerous innovator, Cockburn’s ‘Defence’ was remarkable not only for the fact that it was written by a young woman of 22, but also for its confidence, clarity, and precision. She is also known for her feminist writings, and had her first novel published when she was 14 years old.
Lucretia Coffin Mott
(January 3, 1793 – November 11, 1880) was an American Quaker, abolitionist, a women’s rights activist, and a social reformer. She helped write the Declaration of Sentiments during the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.
(1895 Dec 2 – 1967 Nov 13) was a British pianist, called “the beloved piano witch” by Albert Einstein. Considered one of the finest performers of J. S. Bach’s keyboard music, giving the first ‘all-Bach’ recital at the Queen’s Hall in 1925. Strongly associated with the plight of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Harriet raised funds to bring Jewish scientists out of Germany. Supporting the Zionist cause for a Jewish homeland she also believed for justice for Arab Palestinians. She introduced the world to Russian newcomer, Shostakovitch.
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
(born August 26, 1918) is an American physicist, space scientist, and mathematician. She made fundamental contributions to the United States’ aeronautics and space programs with the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA. Known for accuracy in computerized celestial navigation, her technical leadership work at NASA spanned decades where she calculated the trajectories, launch windows and emergency back-up return paths for many flights from Project Mercury including the early NASA missions of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon and continued work through the Space Shuttle program and on early plans for the Mission to Mars.
(28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954) – She was a French novelist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. She is best known for her novel Gigi, upon which Lerner and Loewe based the stage and film musical comedies of the same title. First woman in French history to be given a state funeral.
(24 December 1858 – 1943) invented a fire escape that was patented in 1887 and led to the first building codes ever established in New York City. She was one of the first women to register a patent for an invention after the Civil War, when women were finally allowed to file patents for themselves.
Alma Cota de Yanez
(1963) is director of FESAC Nogales, an organization similar to a community foundation in the border town of Nogales, Sonora. Cota de Yanez calls herself “optimistic to death” as she describes how Nogales has developed since she arrived, thanks to public-private collaboration to clean up the city and strengthen social services. Alma has overseen FESAC becoming the local leader in mobilizing resources and education in philanthropy for donors (individual and corporate), government agencies and NGOs. FESAC works to promote civil society, philanthropy, culture and a NGO network.
(1893 Jan 5 – 1987 Jun 29) wrote the song “Freight Train” at age 12. A lefty, she played a right-hand guitar upside down and no restringing. Her particular style was called “cotton picking.” At 13, Libba started working as a maid. She married at 17. After the birth of her daughter Lillie, Elizabeth quit playing music. Rediscovered in her 60s, by the Seeger family, Libba began playing again publicly. The burgeoning folk scene inspired her to write new songs and today, Miss Cotton is considered a national treasure.
Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten (née Neville)
(née Neville) (January 5, 1893 – June 29, 1987) was an American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter.
A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar (usually in standard tuning), not restrung for left-handed playing, essentially holding a right-handed guitar upside down. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as Cotten picking”.