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Women's History Month

We honored Women's History Month 2022 by providing brief biographies of many women who have, through actions and ideas, made a difference. Each biography includes suggestions for further reading or viewing (through movies or documentaries). 


Florence Kelley

An ardent social reformer from Pennsylvania who pushed for the rights of working women and advocated for racial justice, Florence Kelley was one of many prominent female reformers of the Progressive Era of US History. The daughter of abolitionists, she was raised to be aware of the issues that faced her fellow Americans. She first investigated the working conditions of children in Chicago factories and subsequently worked to achieve key reforms there in the 1890s. This interest would remain and she stayed involved in the push to eliminate child labor through the early twentieth century.  The more Kelley learned about labor practices, the more she came to understand the depth of racial injustice. This pushed her to become involved in the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  Lastly, Kelley came to serve as the vice president for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, an organization that was crucial to achieving the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Read Kelley's speech on Child Labor and Woman's Suffrage from July 1905 here.



Hatshepsut ruled ancient Egypt around 1479 BC.  Evidence points to the existence of at least one other female pharaoh before her time, but Hatshepsut would far surpass her in influence. Hatshepsut began her time as leader of Ancient Egypt as regent for her stepson, Thutmose III, who was too young to rule when his father died.  Knowing that Egyptians would be resistant to the idea of a female ruler, Hatshepsut presented herself as a man, requiring artists to depict her as a man in all drawings. Life in Egypt during her reign was very stable.  Hatshepsut ruled for nearly two decades, focusing on the creation of great architectural works across the empire. Frustrated by her power grab and resentful of her legacy, Thutmose III ordered most memorials and recordings of her time.  As such knowledge, Hatshepsut was nearly forgotten, until archeologists in the early twentieth century focused on restoring her place in history. To learn more about Hatshepsut's accomplishments, see this article from Smithsonian Magazine.



Viola Liuzzo

Viola Liuzzo was a white woman from Michigan who responded to Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to join him in Selma, Alabama to depart for a march to bring attention to the push for Voting Rights Act. A mother of 5, Liuzzo went and completed the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. After, Viola helped drive marchers back to Selma. On one of these trips, she was joined by a black man. A group of Klansmen saw the two of them in the car together at a red light and chased her, driving her off the road. They then approached the car and she was shot and killed. Viola had every practical excuse to not get involved. But, she cared about others’ access to the ballot box and left her home and her family to stand up for what she believed in. To read more about how Liuzzo was remembered then and now, please see this article from NPR.


Lieutenant Willa Brown

Lieutenant Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to earn a pilot's license. Eventually, she used this expertise to train pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black pilots of the American Air Corps (which would later develop into the US Air Force) who flew in WWII. Lieutenant Brown started her professional career as a teacher in both Indiana and Illinois. In 1938, she earned her pilot's license, followed by earning her commercial pilot's license in 1939. In this phase of her life, she dedicated herself to advancing knowledge of and training for Black pilots all across the country. After WWII, she remained active in the civil rights movement. To learn more about Lieutenant Brown, see this article as well as this short video.


Clara Barton

Most commonly known as the founder of the American Red Cross, Barton was a lifelong glass ceiling breaker and the perfect model of an active citizen. She was one of the first women to work in the federal government, but eventually lost that job due to her outspoken support for abolition. As the "Angel of the Battlefield," not only did she care for thousands of Union and Confederate troops (often using supplies she paid for with her own money), she also founded the Missing Soldiers Office, which identified the fates of 22,000 Civil War soldiers, thereby bringing peace to families traumatized by war. And to top it all off, she was a native of Massachusetts.

There are a few museums in the country dedicated to preserving Barton's memory.  Locally, the Clara Barton Birthplace in Oxford, MA is open seasonally and by appointment. This Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Washington DC has a fascinating origin story that you can learn more about here.  She is also a prominent figure at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.  The National Park Service preserves the house Barton called home for the last 15 years of her life in Glen Echo, VA.


Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was a woman of the 18th century who lived outside the realm of a typical domestic lifestyle. She was an advocate for women's education and marital rights during a time when women scarcely had the means to their own individuality. Wollstonecraft was heavily influenced by the French Revolution and even collaborated with famous activists such as Thomas Paine and William Blake. Her most famous work, A Vindication for the Rights of Woman, emphasized the need for women to have the right to a life for themselves and encouraged ideas of equality between the men and women of her time.Announcements