Even More Astonishing Women
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”.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
(1831 Feb 8 – 1895 Mar 9) was the first African-American woman in the United States to receive her Doctor of Medicine degree. The only African-American woman to graduate from what became Boston University. Rebecca was born in 1831, raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania. After graduating medical college, Rebecca wrote a book of her experiences, A Book of Medical Discourses (1883).
(1925 Oct 21 – 2003 Jul 16) was known as the Queen of Salsa. Cuban, with 23 gold albums, unfaltering vocals, flashy costumes and hair, Grammys, movie cameos, star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Fania All Stars, American National Medal of the Arts, thrills for 40 years. Maybe the most popular salsa performers of all time. She enrolled at the Nat’l Teachers’ College, and then dropped out for the Havana National Conservatory of Music. Quits and sings and tours with Sonora Matancera. Left Cuba for good for the US. A citizen in ’61, Castro barred her from ever returning to Cuba. With Tito Puente, her career skyrocketed.
Susan Jane Cunningham
(1842 Mar 23 – 1921 Jan 24) was one of a conglomerate who founded and developed Swarthmore College. Susan studied mathematics and astronomy at Vassar, Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, the Greenwich Observatory in England and Williams College. In 1869, along with Quakers and abolitionists, she founded and was head of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Swarthmore. Susan planned and equipped the Cunningham Observatory, (no longer used) and lived there until 1906. After retirement, Susan joined the New York Mathematical Society and was a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the British Astronomical Association.
(24 October 1868 – 8 September 1969)
Isabelle de Charriere
(1740 Oct 20 – 1805 Dec 27) (nee Belle van Zuylen) was a Dutch writer of the Enlightenment. Her noble family provided a superior life. At 31, Belle married her brother’s tutor. She published pamphlets, translations and novels. She wrote plays and musical works. Belle maintained on-going and often intimate correspondences with several men (James Boswell, Constant d’Hermenches, (the Swiss Don Juan)), unusual for the times, and of breathless interest to the nobility. During the French Revolution, Belle befriended a number of fleeing nobles, but also published works criticizing the attitudes of the aristocratic refugees, most of whom she felt had learned nothing from the Revolution. In 1991, an asteroid was named in her
Olympe de Gouges
(7 May 1748 – 3 November 1793), born Marie Gouze, was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience. She began her career as a playwright in the early 1780s. As political tension rose in France, she became an outspoken advocate for improving the condition of slaves in the colonies of 1788. Made the argument that if sexes were to be treated equal they deserve to share property.
Jane Arminda Delano
(1862 Mar 13 – 1919 Apr 15) was a nurse and founder/coordinator of the American Red Cross Nursing Service. Jane was gaga for nursing. She studied at Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City. She treated victims of yellow fever. She cared for typhoid patients. She innovated hospital procedures and skills. In 1909, as Superintendent of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps, she established the emergency response teams (first responders today) that organized for disaster relief and readiness. By 1917, the US entered World War I, and more than 20,000 of her nurses served in the US military. In 1919, while in France, Jane Delano died. Jane was returned to the United States and buried in the nurses section of Arlington National
Cemetery. A bronze memorial stands to Jane and her nurses. In 1920, she was posthumously awarded the Red Cross Distinguished Service Medal.
Women of Disney’s Animation
In the 1930’s Walt Disney began hiring female artists into his story and animation departments. While most Hollywood animation studios of the time isolated their female employees in ink and paint departments, where women traced artwork in ink on sheets of celluloid before coloring between the lines, at the Walt Disney studios women were everywhere. There were women in the story department, drawing concept art, creating storyboards and seeking literature they wanted to portray on the silver screen. There were also women in the animation department, defining the look of characters and plotting the action between scenes.
The work of these women surrounds us, even though many of their names have faded from our consciousness, often replaced by those of the men they worked with. They have shaped the evolution of female characters in film, advanced technology and broken down gender barriers in order to give us the empowering story lines we have begun to see in film and animation today. For some working at Disney today, their influence is immeasurable.
There are countless stories and examples of animation clips, imagery, concept work, final animation pieces, as well as fine artwork in recently published books such as, “Ink and Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation” and “Pencil, Pens and Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation.” The women of Disney animation will also be the subject of an 8-part documentary series on the Disney Plus streaming destination.
(October 15, 1917 – November 4, 1998) was an American inventor and entrepreneur. She is best known for developing the first waterproof disposable diaper, a feat which earned her election to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015.
Throughout her life, she explored numerous ventures that were completely unrelated to her diaper improvements. These included woman-related essentials and other convenience items, such as a facial tissue box, storage container box, towel dispenser, hosiery clamp, envelope and writing sheet combination, closet organizer, and dental flossing products.
She earned a total of 20 patents in her lifetime and also received an Architecture degree from Yale University in 1958. Although Donovan’s extraordinary life may go largely unnoticed by the public, this woman inventor deserves the undying gratitude of new parents around the globe.
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas
(April 27, 1906 – May 6, 1983) was an African-American journalist, civil rights activist and author. Dunnigan was the first African-American female correspondent to receive White House credentials, and the first black female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. She wrote an autobiography entitled Alice A. Dunnigan: A Black Woman’s Experience. She also has a Kentucky State Historical Commission marker dedicated to her.
Alice chronicled the decline of Jim Crow during the 1940s and 1950s, which influenced her to become a civil rights activist. She was inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame in 1982.
During her time as a reporter, she became the first black journalist to accompany a president while traveling, covering Harry S. Truman’s 1948 campaign trip.
(15 January 1824 – 3 February 1847). Her father forced her into prostitution around the age of 13 in order to bring in money for the family. She was a French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. Much of what is known about her has been derived from the literary persona and contemporary legends. She has been the inspiration for many books, plays, and films.
Caroline Earle White
(1833–1916) was an American philanthropist and anti-vivisection activist. She started the first US animal shelter in 1869 along with a group of 30 female animal activists. Through fundraisers and hard work, the women were able to build 35 drinking fountains throughout Philadelphia for horses and small animals. In addition, they created horse watering station carts that offered free water to working horses. Many of the fountains are still standing and in use today.
(1905 Oct 23 – 2003 Nov 30) was the first woman to swim the English Channel. Born in Manhattan, Trudy learned to swim in Highlands, New Jersey. At 12, Trudy joined the Women’s Swimming Association and set her first world record. At the 1924 Summer Olympics, Trudy won a gold medal (relay) and 2 bronzes, (freestyle). She decided to swim professionally. She made her way to France to try for the English Channel. Everyone said women could not do it. Her first try was disqualified because her coach thought she was drowning. She wasn’t and got a new coach. The next year, 1926, she swam the Channel in 14 hours, 34 minutes. A record. A ticker tape parade in New York. That record held until 1950. Partially deaf from childhood, Trudy wound up teaching deaf kids how to swim.
(1768 Jan 1 – 1849 May 22) was an Anglo-Irish writer Maria was one of 22 children. She used family behavior to
provide characters in her stories. This gave an immediacy to her work, especially her children’s stories, unseen
since Shakespeare’s time. Not preachy, but patient; not moralizing but amusing. She particularly wanted her
writing to have a galvanizing effect on women to participate in all aspects of life, politics, finances, and social
issues. Maria was not out to instruct but to inspire.
Gertrude Belle Elion
(January 23, 1918 – February 21, 1999) was an American biochemist and pharmacologist, who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with George H. Hitchings and Sir James Black. Working alone as well as with Hitchings and Black, Elion developed a multitude of new drugs, using innovative research methods that would later lead to the development of the AIDS drug AZT.
Betty Evans Grayson
(1925 Oct 9 – 1979 Jul 9) was a first-rate fast-pitch pitcher. Betty started playing at 11. At 13, her manager, Erv Lind, told her she could pitch. Her dad helped train her. Betty pitched the Erv Lind Florists Pomeroy team to the ASA Nat’l Title in Women’s Major Fastpitch and was named All-City in 1941, ’42 and ‘43. Betty played for the Chicago Queens in 1949. Named Women Athlete of the Year by the Oregon Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Betty compiled a 456-99 record with 51 no-hitters and three perfect games. She was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1959. She was 53 when she passed away. The Betty Evans Grayson Memorial Award is given every two years to a player 16-and-under for athleticism, academic achievement, and community involvement.