Kate Smith- April 26, 2017
Kathryn Elizabeth Smith known as “The First Lady of Radio” was born in May 1, 1907 in Greenville, Virginia. Known professionally as Kate Smith, she was a singer and pioneer in radio and television. Without formal training, she became one of America’s most popular singers, especially for her performances of “God Bless America” which you can still hear today. She was known for her patriotism and support for the war effort during World War II.
Wilma Rudolph – April 19, 2017
Wilma Rudolph grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee and would become an Oylimpic sprinter. In 1960, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three Oylimpic gold medals in a games. Off the track, Wilma was a pioneer for civil and women’s rights.
Harvard Computers – April 12, 2017
The Harvard Computers were a group of skilled women who processed astronomical data for the Harvard College Observatory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Included above are Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, Williamina Fleming, and Antonia Maury. Leavitt discovered a way to measured the distance of stars from the Earth, changing the field astronomy, Cannon created a way to classify stars based on their temperatures and and spectral types, and Fleming discovered the Horsehead Nebula. These women working together contributed immensely to their field.
Gwendolyn Brooks – April 5, 2017
Gwendolyn Brooks was an American poet. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn’s family moved to Chicago in 1917 as part of the Great Migration. Chicago impacted her writing, many of her characters came from the inner city, which was right out her window. Brooks published her first poem at the age of 13. In 1950, her book Annie Allen won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Brooks taught at many colleges around the country, her papers are now housed at UC Berkeley and University of of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Ruth Bradley – March 29, 2017
This photo, taken in 1945, shows the release of former POWs in the Philippines. All of these women were nurses serving during World War II. Ruth Bradley is in this shot, during her career she served in Japan and Korea earning 34 medals and citations for bravery. She was known as the “Angel in Fatigues” for the assistance she provided to her fellow prisoners. All of these women are #WomenWhoInspire!
Marjorie Ann Anderson – March 22, 2017
Marjorie Ann “Marge” Anderson was the first woman to lead the Native American tribe Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Anderson served in the tribal government for over 30 years. While serving, Anderson was involved in many projects including building new schools, museums, and community centers in addition to an assisted elderly living facility. In 1999, she led a successful fight for her people’s treaty rights, winning an important Supreme Court decision on Native American sovereignty.
Minerva Hamilton Hoyt – March 15, 2017
Minerva Hamilton Hoyt was born in Mississippi in 1866, she would become an advocate for preservation in a different state. Hoyt advocated for the protection of desert life in California. She would exhibit desert plants across the country and the world. She convinced the Mexican government to preserve land for cacti, and the state of California to create three state parks. Her tireless efforts also led to the creation of Joshua Tree National Park.
International Ladies Garment Workers Union – March 8, 2017
Today’s #WomenWhoInspire are the members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Today we remember and celebrate the work of the union which was once the largest all female union in the United States. The union was founded in 1900 and grew quickly, playing an important role in the labor movements of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Chien Shiung Wu – March 1, 2017
March is Women’s History Month!
To start the month, today’s Woman Who Inspires is Chien Shiung Wu, an experimental physicist. She was born and educated in China, before moving to the United States and beginning her graduate studies at the University of California Berkley. She worked at Columbia University for much of her career, including her work on the Manhattan Project. She became a U.S. citizen in 1954. Chien Shiung Wu was a pioneer in physics.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler – February 22, 2017
Today’s #WomanWhoInspires Rebecca Lee Crumpler was raised by an aunt who cared for infirm neighbors, this early experience tending to the weak foreshadows her career in medicine. While living in Massachusetts, Crumpler spent 8 years as a nurse, culminating in her acceptance into the New England Female Medical College. Upon graduation in 1864, she became the first African American woman to earn a Doctor of Medicine. Throughout her career, Rebecca cared primarily for impoverished families. Crumpler authored A Book of Medical Discourses in 1883.
Mary Jackson – February 15, 2017
Mary Jackson had many jobs before becoming an engineer at NASA. She was a math teacher, a receptionist, and a book keeper among other things before becoming a computer at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1951. Two years later, Jackson began to work on the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, she is pictured above in the tunnel. Mary Jackson went on to become an engineer in 1958. Jackson’s contributions to NASA and her perseverance make her a #WomanWhoInspires.
Edmonia Lewis – February 8, 2017
Edmonia Lewis was an American sculptor in the late 19th century. Edmonia lost both of her parents by the age of nine and lived with her aunts afterward. She studied at Oberlin College, and in Boston under Edward Brackett. Lewis worked mostly in Rome but often returned to the United States. One of her most famous works is The Death of Cleopatra which was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Her depiction of death shocked the public. A year later in 1877, former President Ulysses S. Grant commissioned a sculpture by Lewis. Today, her works can be found at the Smithson American Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and others.
Althea Gibson – February 1, 2017
Our first Woman Who Inspires was Serena Williams. Today at the start of Black History Month we celebrate another tennis great, Althea Gibson. She won the French Open in 1956 becoming the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title. In total Gibson won 11 Grand Slam Tournaments in her career. In addition to her tennis career, Gibson also has a career in professional golf, joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour in 1964.
Philadelphia Eleven – January 25, 2016
The Philadelphia Eleven were the first women to be ordained as priests within the Episcopal Church. They were ordained on July 29, 1974, 2 years before the church specifically permitted the ordination of women. The Philadelphia Eleven were Merrill Bittner, Alla Renee Bozarth, Alison Mary Cheek, Emily Clark Hewitt, Isabel Carter Heyward, Suzanne Radley Hiatt, Marie Moorefield Fleischer, Jeannette Ridion Piccard, Betty Bone Schiess, Katrina Martha van Alstyne Welles Swanson, and Nancy Constantine Hatch Wittig. These women chose to create a path where one did not exist, and for that they are #WomenWhoInspire.
Denise Mueller and Shea Holbrook – January 18, 2017
Denise Mueller and Shea Holbrook worked together to make Denise the fastest women cyclist on Earth. On September 12, 2016 traveling at 147.7mph, Mueller set the record while racecar driver Holbrook drove a specially designed Range Rover in what could be described as a high speed dance. Together these record setting women are #WomenWhoInspire!
Below is a video of the event from the Wall Street Journal.
Ellen Ochoa – January 11, 2017
Ellen Ochoa currently serves as Directer of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa started at NASA in 1988, became an astronaut in 1990, and has gone to space four times. She has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s highest honor.
*This week’s post was submitted by Eleanor B.*
Women of the USPS – January 4, 2017
We start 2017 by celebrating a group of #WomenWhoInspire, the women of the Postal service. From Mary Catherine Goddard, named Balitmore’s postmaster in 1775 to Megan Brennan, named the 74th Postmaster General of the United States in 2015, women have been delivering the post. Pictured above is Chicago’s first female letter carrier, Jeanette Lee in 1944.
Vera Rubin – December 28, 2016
This week we are inspired by Vera Rubin who worked as an astrophysicist. Rubin is credited with finding evidence of dark matter. She studied the movement of stars at the edge of the galaxy and won many awards including Gold Medal of London’s Royal Astronomical Society.
Virginia Apgar – December 21, 2016
Virginia Apgar was an anesthesiologist and the first woman to become full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is remembered for creating the Apgar score which quickly assess the health of newborn infants. Her skill and creativity make her an inspiring woman.
Mary Church Terrell – November 8, 2016
Mary Church Terrell was an activist for women’s suffrage and one of the founders of the NAACP. She was an active member of National American Women Suffrage Association and after the 19th Amendment was ratified, Terrell worked to elect Warren G. Harding. On this Election Day we are inspired by Mary Church Terrell.
Hattie Caraway – November 7, 2016
Hattie Caraway was the first woman to serve a full-term in the Senate. Originally appointed after the death of her husband, Caraway decided to run for re-election in 1932. She won and served as a Senator from Arkansas until 1945.
Lousia Ann Swain – November 6, 2016
Louisa Ann Swain is called the first woman to vote in a general election. She and her family moved to Wyoming in 1869. On September 6, 1870 she walked into town and passed the local polling place where she was invited to vote. She was 69 years old.
Jeannette Rankin – November 5, 2016
Jeanette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916, becoming the first woman to serve in a federal office. Montana voters elected Rankin a second time in 1940. During her first term, Rankin voted in favor of the resolution that would become the 19th Amendment, securing unrestricted voting rights for women.
Nellie Tayloe Ross – November 4, 2016
Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman to become a state governor. She was elected in Wyoming in 1925, following the death of her husband. Ross campaigned for re-election in 1926 but lost, she would later be appointed to Director of the U.S. Mint becoming the first woman to hold that position as well.
Fannie Lou Hamer – November 3, 2016
Fannie Lou Hamer was a voting rights activist in the 1960’s. In 1962 Hamer registered to vote and was subsequently fired for doing so, this led her to become an advocate for voting rights across the country. Her courage and determination in securing the right to vote for all Americans make her a #WomanWhoInspires.
Susanna Madora Salter – November 2, 2016
Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman elected to political office in April of 1887. She served as Mayor of Argonia, Kansas for one year. The home she lived in while serving as mayor still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Belva Ann Lockwood – November 1, 2016
Belva Ann Lockwood was one of the first women to campaign for President, before women had won the right to vote! She ran in 1884 and again in 1888. Lockwood was the candidate for the National Equal Rights Party. In addition to her presidential campaign Lockwood was an attorney, writer, and activist for women’s suffrage.
Juliette Gordon Low – October 26, 2016
In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low formed the first Girl Guide group in Savannah Georgia. The Girl Guides would become the Girl Scouts in 1915, with Gordon Low as the organizations first president. Through the Girl Scouts, Gordon Low encouraged girls to be self-sufficient. Today, the Girl Scouts celebrate her birthday (October 31st) as “Founders Day” and generations of girls and women have been inspired by the Girl Scouts and Juliette Gordon Low.
Amy Tan – October 19, 2016
This week’s Woman Who Inspires is Amy Tan. She has written many best-selling novels and is perhaps best known for her novel The Joy Luck Club, which was also made into a movie. Tan’s writing tends to focus on mother daughter relationships and speaks to people all over the globe.
Women of the Civil Rights Movement – October 12, 2016
Today we are inspired by the women organized and marched for their rights during the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Diane Nash rode with the Freedom Riders. Fannie Lou Hamer fought for her right to vote. Daisy Bates aided the Little Rock Nine in the fight to desegregate schools. And thousands of women took part in the March on Washington.
Margaret Brent – October 5, 2016
Margaret Brent immigrated to the Maryland colony in 1638. She was accompanied by three siblings and remained unmarried for life. Brent was able to secure land grants which gave her a voice in the colonial assembly. She also represented Lord Calvert and after his death Lord Baltimore and ensured the payment of soldiers who had protected the colony. Her actions may have saved the colony from mutiny. She is remembered today by the this plaque in St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Margaret Brent is a #WomanWhoInspires
Margaret Chase Smith – September 28, 2016
Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Smith represented Maine’s 2nd district from 1940 to 1949, and went on to serve as a Senator until 1973. Her dedication to public service makes her a #WomanWhoInspires. In this photo she appears alongside Eleanor Roosevelt on Face of the Nation in 1956.
Maya Lin – September 21, 2016
Maya Lin is an artist, designer, and today’s Woman Who Inspires. Lin is probably best known for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin entered a public design contest for the memorial and won when she was just 21 years old. She went on to design the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. She continues to create art from the Maya Lin Studio in New York City.
Madam C.J. Walker – September 14, 2016
Born Sarah Breedlove, Madam C.J. Walker became one of America’s most wealthy self-made women. She built the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company to provide beauty and hair products to black women. With the success of her business, she was able to become a philanthropist and used her wealth and power for activism. She is a #WomanWhoInspires!
Bonnie Carroll – September 7, 2016
Bonnie Carroll is the founder of TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The program provides emotional support to those who have lost loved ones in the military. In the above photo she is being awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in 2008. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. Her compassion and drive to create a support system make her a #WomanWhoInspires.
Lee Miller – August 31, 2016
Lee Miller started her career in front of the camera as a fashion model in the 1920’s. She moved from modeling to photography. While living in London during World War II she began documenting the Blitz and became a war correspondent for Vogue. Her dedication to photojournalism makes her a Woman Who Inspires.
Alice Wong – August 24, 2016
Alice Wong is a disability rights activist and today’s #WomanWhoInspires. Based out of San Francisco, CA, Alice was the first person to visit the White House via robot! The photo above shows her visit on July 20, 2015. Her continued work with the Disability Visibility Project aims to collect oral histories of people with disabilities.
292 – August 21, 2016
As the Olympics wind down, we want to remember this historic year. Team U.S.A. sent more women to the Olympics than any country in history. The 292 women who competed in Rio are all #WomenWhoInspire. Pictured above is the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team who took home the gold medal when they won their match over Italy.
Gwen Jorgensen – August 20, 2016
Gwen Jorgensen ran, swam and biked her way to victory today. She won the gold medal in the women’s triathlon at #Rio2016 today and is the first American to do so.
Helen Maroulis – August 19, 2016
Helen Maoulis defeated Japan’s Saori Yoshida yesterday. In doing so she became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling for the United States. She is yet another inspiring woman at this year’s Olympics!
Briana Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin – August 18, 2016
Briana Rollins, Nia Ali, and Krisiti Castlin made history yesterday in Rio. It is the first time American women have ever swept a track and field event! Rollins took home the gold with Ali and Castlin taking silver and bronze respectively.
Katie Ledecky- August 17, 2016
When the swimming finals finished at the Olympics, Katie Ledecky was the first woman since 1968 to win gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m individual freestyle. She will leave Rio de Janeiro with a total of 4 gold and one silver medal.
U.S. Women’s Rowing Team – August 16, 2016
Amanda Elmore, Tessa Gobbo, Elle Logan, Meghan Musnicki, Amanda Polk, Emily Regan, Lauren Schmetterling, Kerry Simmonds and coxswain Katelin Snyder won the Olympic gold in the coxed eight on the final day of the regatta. Their teamwork and strength is impressive. They are all #WomenWhoInspire
Michelle Carter – August 15, 2016
Michelle Carter made history on Friday when she won the gold in shot put. She is the first American woman to do so and she became part of the first father-daughter pair of Olympic medalists!
Simone Manuel – August 13, 2016
On Thursday, Simone Manuel won gold in the 100 meter freestyle. Seen above on the left, she tied for gold with Penny Oleksiak of Canada (far right). In her historic win, she became the first African American woman to win an individual event in swimming. She is an inspiring member of Team USA.
Simone Biles and Aly Raisman – August 12, 2016
After competing with the US women’s gymnastics team Tuesday and winning gold, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman won gold and silver respectively yesterday. Their drive is incredible and their friendship is inspiring.
Kristin Armstrong – August 11, 2016
Kristin Armstrong won her 3rd consecutive gold medal on Wednesday. Armstrong competed in the women’s individual time trials; she is the first American to win three consecutive cycling medals. She is quite an inspiration. Today is her birthday, Congratulations and Happy Birthday Kristin!
Virginia Thrasher – August 10, 2016
On August 6th, Virginia Thrasher became the first American to win a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic. The 19 year old sports shooter beat two former Olympic gold medalists. Her skills and determination make her a #WomanWhoInspires
Lilly King – August 9, 2016
Lilly King took home a Gold Medal yesterday in the 100 Breaststroke! As this inspiring 19 year old competes on the Olympic stage she took the opportunity to speak out about the importance of fair competition. She will compete again tomorrow in the 200 Breaststroke.
Ibtihaj Muhammad – August 8, 2016
When Ibithaj Muhammad competed at the Olympics today, she did so as the first American Olymipian to wear a hijab. This fencer’s perseverance and dedication make her a #WomanWhoInspires!
The Girl Scouts – August 3, 2016
The Girl Scouts of America are most commonly known for their cookie sales. but those cookies fund an organization that empowers girls and young women of many ages. Since their founding by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912, the Girl Scouts have helped to build a sense of community and teach girls of all ages the value of being a good citizen and neighbor. The photo above was taken of a few Girl Scouts in 1972 for Keep America Beautiful Day.
Martha Graham – July 27, 2016
This week’s Woman Who Inspires was the first dancer to perform at the White House, her work as a choreographer continues to impact modern dance today. Martha Graham’s innovative style and ability to harness expression through movement inspired artists beyond modern dance. The photo above was taken in 1922.
Factory Laborers – July 20, 2016
This week we remember the women laborers who worked in factories from New Hampshire to Mississippi. Industrialization created jobs for women in a variety of industries including watch making and textiles. These women worked long hours, often in dangerous conditions. The photo above was taken at Magnolia Cotton Mill in May of 1911. They are all #WomenWhoInspire
Betty Reid Soskin – July 13, 2016
This week’s #WomanWhoInspires is Betty Reid Soskin. At 94, she is the oldest serving park ranger in the United States. Betty worked to ensure that the home front efforts of women and African Americans would be remembered in a national park. Today, she is a park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park. On Tuesday of this week, she returned to work following a robbery at her home two weeks ago.
Prudence Crandall – July 6, 2016
Prudence Crandall(b. 1803) was a Quaker schoolteacher in Connecticut. She is remembered for her attempt at integration of the Canterbury Female Boarding School, and later for opening a school specifically for African American women. The school attracted students from many different states, but it also angered many within the community. Prudence worked to ensure access to education and that makes her a #WomanWhoInspires
Mercy Otis Warren – June 29, 2016
Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer in the eighteenth century. She advocated for colonial liberties and questioned royal authority. Mercy authored Observations on a new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions which argued for the implementation of the Bill of Rights. She is also one of the few women to be memorialized in bronze. Her statue, can be found in front of the Barnstable County Courthouse in Massachusetts.
Women of the FSA – June 22, 2016
Marion Post Walcott, Louise Rosskam, Dorothea Lange, and Ann Rosener were the four female photographers for the Farm Security Administration. While Dorothea Lange may be the most recognizable name, all of these women worked to document American life from 1935 to 1945. Today, their photographs serve as reminders of the American past. This photo was taken by Lousie Rosskam in 1940 near Lincoln Vermont.
Ida B. Wells – June 15, 2016
Ida B. Wells was a writer journalist and activist in the late 19th Century. She wrote about the horrors of lynching, fought for women’s suffrage, and was a founder of the NAACP. Her pamphlet, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, originally published in 1892 spoke out against the widespread lynchings in the South. She was a pioneering investigative journalist which makes her a #WomanWhoInspires
Mary Cassatt – June 8, 2016
Born outside of Pittsburgh and educated in Philadelphia, Mary Cassatt is one of the few women to be involved in the Impressionist movement. Her presence in the art world as well as her focus on painting women doing everyday tasks inspired many to follow her lead. She is yet another #womanwhoinspires.
Katherine Johnson – June 1, 2016
The inspirational mathematician, Katherine Johnson is this week’s addition to #WomenWhoInpire. After graduating from high school at the age of 14 she moved on to West Virginia State College to pursue studies in Mathematics and French. As a NASA scientist, she calculated the trajectory for the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon!
WAVES – May 25, 2016
The image above shows women gathered at Hunter College in 1943. These women are volunteering for the U.S. Naval Reserve. WAVES – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, answered the call to action during World War II. They are all #WomenWhoInspire
Suzan Shown Harjo – May 18, 2016
Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee) is a poet, writer, and relentless advocate for American Indian rights. She has helped native people recover more than a million acres of land. Suzan is currently the President of the Morning Star Institute and a 2014 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her dedication to tribal sovereignty and preservation is why she is one of the many Women Who Inspire.
Anne Sullivan Macy – May 11, 2016
“This week’s addition to #WomenWhoInspire is Anne Sulllivan Macy. She was nearly blind from a young age, and was educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston before becoming a teacher to Helen Keller. Her patience and determination with Helen is particularly important to remember during National Teacher Appreciation Month. “
Women of NASA – May 4, 2016
I am inspired by all of the women at NASA.
These three women in particular never went to space, but that did not stop them from contributing to space exploration. In this photo Dr. Mary-Helen Johnston, Carolyn Griner, and Dr. Ann Whitaker (Left to Right) are preparing to go into Marshall’s Neutral Buoyancy Simulator. They simulated performing experiments as they would be done in space.
Kathrine Switzer – April 27, 2016
Today’s Woman Who Inspires is Kathrine Switzer, who ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, despite women being barred from participating and multiple physical attempts to take her out of the race. She had registered for the race under the gender-neutral name “K.V. Switzer”. After completing the race, Switzer worked with other women to try and convince the Boston Athletic Association to formally allow female runners to participate in the race, something that did not happen until 1972.
Rosie Rios – April 20, 2016
Today we are inspired by Rosie Rios. Rosie and her 8 siblings were raised by their single, immigrant mother. Rios left her home state of California to attended Harvard University. Today, Rosie Rios is Treasurer of the United States. She works to empower women in finance and supports putting a woman on the new ten dollar bill.
Suffragists – April 13, 2016
I am inspired by all of the women who worked for Women’s Suffrage. I love the images of these women coming together to demand their rights.
Pat Summitt – April 6, 2016
She inspires me because she is a pioneer in women’s basketball and women’s sports. In her time, women’s organized teams were next to non-existent. At the age of 22 she became the head coach at Tennessee, a legend in the making. She led a team who played because they loved the game. She coached with heart, and through her cold stare was a gritty competitor. She was passionate about her players, and passionate about her school where she remained for decades. She has left a legacy among coaches and although she is no longer active on the sidelines of Tennessee, no one can forget the passion she displayed and how her determination changed women’s sports forever!
Rachel Carson – March 30, 2016
Rachel Carson inspired many with her book Silent Spring. She wrote about the necessity of protecting the environment. In this photo, taken in 1952, she is conducting research in the Atlantic.
Serena Williams – March 23, 2016
Serena Williams once again makes history. While being forced to withdraw from play due to injury at the Indian Wells Tournament this week, Serena beautifully articulated a response to Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore’s controversial remarks and reminded the world the power and attraction of women’s tennis.
Submitted by Angela Phillips, a Commission Intern
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