Women Who Inspire

Flossie Wong-Staal – October 17, 2018

Source: National Cancer Institute

Flossie Wong-Stahl (Wong Yee Ching) was born in Guangzhou, China in 1947, years later her work would lead to a breakthrough in AIDS research. While working at the National Cancer Institute, Wong-Staal studied retroviruses. She was able to clone HIV and genetically map the virus. In doing this it became possible to link HIV to AIDS and it allowed for the development of HIV testing.

Maria W. Stewart – October 10, 2018


Abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Mary W. Stewart was born in 1803. Her speeches were attended by both men and women, making her the first known woman to do so. She was a teacher and journalist, using her education to encourage the education of other women.

Donna Strickland – October 3, 2018

REUTERS/Peter Power

This week Donna Strickland became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. The prize was for her work at University of Rochester and the invention of the Chirped Pulse Amplification method with Dr. Gerard Mourou. This invention is used in laser eye surgery! Currently a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Strickland researches high intensity lasers.

Temple Grandin – September 26, 2018


Temple Grandin is an inventor and autism spokesperson. She advocates for the humane treatment of livestock and has developed systems to ensure animal welfare. Grandin is a published author both in the field of animal behavior as well as austism. She works to break down stigmas surrounding autism.

Elizebeth Smith Friedman – September 19, 2018

Elizebeth Smith Friedman was a trailblazing American crypt-analyst. Hired by the U.S. Navy in 1923, she had a long career in code breaking. First she helped break codes to ensure the enforcement of the Volstead Act, then during World War II she and her team worked to solve the code created by German Naval Intelligence’s Enigma machine. After the end of the war she went on to work for the International Monetary Fund. She is commonly known as “America’s first female cryptanalyst”

Esther Rolle – November 1, 2017

Esther Rolle, best known for her role as Florida Evans in Maude and then Good Times, was born in Florida in 1920. The daughter of Bahamian immigrants, Esther studied at Spellman College before moving to Hunter College in New York and eventually to Yale University. In 1976, Rolle was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Bests Actress. Throughout her career Rolle wore many hats as a dancer, singer, and actress.

Frances Lois Willoughby – October 18, 2017

Dickinson College Archives

Frances Willoughby was trained at the University of Arkanasas School of Medicine, graduating in 1938. At the start of World War II, Willoughby enlisted in the Naval Reserve because she was not yet permitted to enlist in the Navy. In 1948, the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act allowed Willoughby to become the first female doctor in the U.S. Navy. During her career she reached rank of captain and retired in 1964.

Pura Belpré – October 4, 2017

Born in 1899, Pura Belpré was a writer, puppeteer, and librarian. She was the first Puerto Rican to work as a librarian in New York City. In her first job, she traveled around the city telling stories in English and Spanish in an effort to break language barriers. She lends her name to the Pura Belpré award which is presented annually to a Latino/Latina author. Her life and her legacy make her a #WomanWhoInspires.

Mildred Dresselhaus – September 27, 2017

Photo by Bryce Vickmark from MIT Technology Review, 2017

Mildred Dresselhaus was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1930. She would go on to be known as the Queen of Carbon Science. After graduating from Hunter College she decided to pursue education in physics further, on the advice of Rosalyn Sussman. Dresselhaus joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. During her time at MIT, Dresselhaus was a professor of electrical engineering and physics.

Genevieve Cline – September 13, 2017

Genevieve Cline was born in Ohio in 1879, she would go onto to become a lawyer and eventually a federally appointed judge. Cline was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1921. Her extensive study of customs law was put to use when Calvin Coolidge nominated her to the United States Customs Court in 1928. She was confirmed by the Senate, in spite of much opposition. From the start of her time on the court Cline worked to ensure the legal rights of women.

Lowell Female Labor Reform Association – September 6, 2017

Tintype of two young women in Lowell, Massachusetts – Center for Lowell History, University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries

In 1844, the women workers of the Lowell textile mills met and formed the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. Their lobbying goals were for better health condition and a ten-hour workday. They elected Sarah Bagley as their president. The labor reform movement worked for thirty years but in 1874 the textile corporations moved to a 10 hour work day.

Katherine Siva Saubel – August 23, 2017

Katherine Siva Saubel was a scholar and tribal leader committed to preserving Cahuilla history. The Cahuilla are a Native American people of southern California. Katherine focused on preserving the language she grew up speaking. In fact, she only spoke Cahuilla until she was seven years old and attending school for the first time. The United States Congress sought her as an expert witness due to her extensive knowledge of tribal affairs. Her commitment to preserving culture make her a #WomanWhoInspires

Women’s Army Corps – August 16, 2017

WAC Signal Corps field telephone operators, 1944

In May of 1942, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was formed as the women’s branch of the United States Army. Then in June of 1943 it was converted to full status becoming the Women’s Army Crops or WAC. Initially there were three main specialties, switchboard operators, mechanics, and bakers. With the expansion of volunteers these roles also expanded. WAC was segregated, like the rest of the Army at the time. Around 150,000 women served WAC during World War II.

Rita Moreno- August 9, 2017

Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican-American actress, dancer, and singer known for her roles in West Side Story, The King and I, and The Electric Company. Excelling in her field, Moreno is one of only 11 people to have won the big four entertainment awards, an Emmy, a Grammy, an Academy Award, and an Oscar. Her excellence makes her a #WomanWhoInspires

Marie Maynard Daly – August 2, 2017

Marie Maynard Daly was a pioneering biochemist. She earned her PhD from Columbia University in 1947. Daly carried out research with grants from the American Cancer Society and and the American Heart Association. She enjoyed teaching at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and dedicated herself to the number of minority students in medical school.

Helen Frankenthaler – July 26, 2017

Helen Frankenthaler was an American abstract expressionist painter. She began exhibiting her works in the 1950’s and continued to so for six decades. Frankenthaler served on the National Council of the Arts from 1985 to 1992. Her works can be seen in museums and galleries worldwide today including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Austrailia, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and many others.

Mary Roebling – July 19, 2017

Mary Roebling excelled in the banking during the 20th Century. Roebling was the first woman to head a major American bank, the Trenton Trust Company, eventually becoming chair of the National State Bank. In 1978, along with other women, Mary helped found the Women’s Bank of Denver. She was also the American Stock Exchange’s first woman governor.

Bessie Coleman – July 12, 2017

Bessie Coleman was an internationally accredited pilot. Her early interest in aviation led her to save money to attend flight school. As a Native American and African American woman, there were no flight schools that would accept Coleman in the United States, so she traveled to France. When returning to the United States, she became a stunt pilot, known fondly by audiences as Queen Bess. Coleman dreamed of opening a flight school for African American fliers but unfortunately, her dream was cut short when she died in a plane accident on April 30, 1926.

Sybil Ludington – July 3, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

Statue of Sybil Ludington by Anna Hyatt Huntington in Carmel, NY

In 1777, Sybil Ludington was seventeen years old. On the night of April 26th, she rode out to warn the militia of an oncoming attack on Danbury, Connecticut by British soldiers. She rode from 9pm until dawn, covering 40 miles in just one night.The story was first published by Martha Lamb in 1880.

Agent 355 – July 2, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

National Museum of American History Costume Collection; Catalogue Number: CS*020053; Dress dates from 1776 – 1780.

The Culper Ring was a spy network during the American Revolution. Organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge, the ring included the still anonymous Agent 355. The Culper Ring used code to communicate and referenced 355, which could be decoded to mean “lady.’ Agent 355 may have played a role in the exposure of Benedict Arnold. While her name remains unknown, she played an important role in the espionage of the revolution.

Camp Followers – July 1, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

The legend of Molly Pitcher is compelling, a woman took up her husband’s position on a cannon after he had been injured, and continued to fight. The legend has its roots in the very real camp followers of the American Revolution. Camp followers were integral to the Continental Army. Often wives of soldiers, these women provided services to the militias most often nursing and laundering. The story of Molly Pitcher probably reflects the brave actions of multiple camp followers.

Deborah Sampson – June 30, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

One of a few women with a military record during the Revolutionary War, Deborah Sampson served in the Continental Army for 17 months under the name Robert Shirtliff. As women were not permitted to serve, disguised herself as a man. In 1782, Sampson was injured in a battle outside of Tarrytown, NY. She left the hospital before being treated and removed one of two musket balls from her leg. Though her leg never fully healed, she continued to serve. In 1783, upon the discovery of her sex, General Paterson  gave Sampson an honorable discharge.

Sarah Franklin Bache – June 29, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

In addition to serving as political host for her father, Benjamin Franklin, Sarah Franklin Bache was an enthusiastic patriot. When Ester de Berdt Reed died suddenly, Bache became leader of the Women’s Association of Philadelphia which sewed 2,200 shirts for soldiers in the Continental Army.

Ester de Berdt Reed – June 28, 2017

|Revolutionary Women|

Ester de Berdt Reed was a civic leader during the American Revolution. Reed was the anonymous author of “Sentiments of the American Woman” which led to the formation of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia. Working together, these women raised money and goods for the Continental Army. Ester de Berdt Reed died suddenly in September of 1780, but her efforts were carried on by the women of Philadelphia, led by Sarah Franklin Bache.

Jane Addams – June 21, 2017

Library of Congress

Known as the “mother” of Social Work, Jane Addams was a prominent activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Addams used her family’s prosperity to advocate for women and children. In 1889, Addams and her partner, Ellen Gates Star founded Hull House in Chicago. In 1931, Addams was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Her lifetime of work and achievements are inspiring.

Ananya Vinay – June 14, 2017

Craig Kohlruss, The Fresno Bee

Earlier this month, the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee had it’s first color champion for the first time in 4 years. Her name was Ananya Vinay. Ananya was the young finalist at just 12 years old. Her winning word? Marocain. Her hard work make her today’s #WomanWhoInspires

Patty Jenkins – June 7, 2017

Jenkins at 2017 WonderCon

Patty Jenkins made history when she directed Wonder Woman. She became the first female director to head a super hero film. Then, over the weekend, Wonder Woman broke domestic box office records for a film with a female director. Jenkins is today’s #WomanWhoInspires.

Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia – May 31, 2017

Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections

Established in 1850, the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania was an institution dedicated to training female doctors from across the globe. Women would come to Philadelphia to study and then return to their homes, often becoming the first female physician in their country. Notable students include Rebecca Cole, Keiko Okami, and Susan La Flesche Picotte.

Michelle Kwan – May 24, 2017

Michelle Kwan performing her signature spiral at a practice session at the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Kevin Rushforth

Michelle Kwan is the most decorated American figure skater in history. The two-time Olympic medalist began skating at the age of five. In order to pursue her figure skating career, Kwan was home schooled beginning in 8th grade. She won five world championships between 1996 and 2003, tying the record for an American. Michelle Kwan’s continued dedication make her a #WomanWhoInspires

Jean King – May 17, 2017

Jean King was a Hawaiian politician and the first female Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii. Serving from 1978 to 1984, King helped to protect Hawaii’s natural environment. She was a role model for many young women who would eventually run for public office.

Elizabeth Peratrovich – May 10, 2017

Born on July 4, 1911, Elizabeth Peratrovich was a Tlingit Native Alaskan. While living in Juneau, Peratrovich began working to end discrimination against Alaska Natives. Her efforts culminated in the Alaska territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States.

Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick – May 3, 2017

Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick was an early parachutist. Her nickname came from her small stature, she was 5 feet tall. Broadwick traveled the country giving parachuting demonstrations from hot air balloons. In 1914, Georgia became the first woman to parachute from a plane and the first person to jump in free fall. Her free fall jump came while demonstrating parachute for the U.S. Army. Her courage makes her a Woman Who Inspires.

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

Harvard Computers at work, circa 1890, including Henrietta Swan Leavitt seated, third from left, with magnifying glass (1868–1921), Annie Jump Cannon (1863–1941), Williamina Fleming standing, at center (1857–1911), and Antonia Maury (1866–1952).

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

Ruth Bradley is seating in the front row, fourth from the left and waving.

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

Marge Anderson, Tribal Chairman of the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa, stands in front of the new Mille Lacs government center. SD 6/2/2000

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

Mural of Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, Joshua Tree National Park Visitors Center.

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

“Dainty Slip workers from Ladies Garment Cutter’s Union Local 10, Undergarment and Negligee Workers Union Local 62, on strike,” The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives in the ILR School at Cornell University

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, with their record-setting setup. Photograph courtesy of Keenan Photography – Bicycling.com

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

Archives & Special Collections Vassar College Library

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

Election Edition

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

Election Edition

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

Election Edition

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

Election Edition

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

Election Edition

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

Election Edition


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

Election Edition


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

Election Edition


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


Image source: Wikimedia Commons “Madam C.J. Walker and friends in her automobile”

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 - September 7

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 - Aug 31

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

July 20, 2015 "During photo lines, there's this routine called 'push and pull.' One social aide helps push the next guest towards the President and another helps pull them out of the room. During a photo line to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project Founder, participated via robot. So after her photograph had been taken, social aides gestured to 'pull' her out of the room as the next guest entered." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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

Olympians Edition

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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

Olympians Edition

Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org

Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org

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

Olympians Edition

Photo: Jeff Swinger, USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Jeff Swinger, USA TODAY Sports

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

Olympians Edition


Getty Images – from left to right Kristi Castlin, Briana Rollins, Peydra Seymour (Bahamas), and Nia Ali

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

Olympians Edition

Patrick B. Kraemer/European Pressphoto Agency

Patrick B. Kraemer/European Pressphoto Agency

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

Olympians Edition

AP Photo/Andre Penner

AP Photo/Andre Penner

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

Olympians Edition

Michelle Carter - AP

Matt Dunham/AP

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

Olympians Edition

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

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

Olympians Edition

AP Photo by Dmitri Lovetsky

AP Photo by Dmitri Lovetsky

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

Olympians Edition

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

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

Olympians Edition


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

Olympians Edition

Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

Image from The Washington Post – Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

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

Olympians Edition


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

Betty Reid Soskin - Photo by Edward Caldwell

Photo by Edward Caldwell

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

Farm woman washing clothes in her motor-driven washing machine. Near Lincoln, Vermont taken by Louise Rosskam. 1940. Library of Congress

Farm woman washing clothes in her motor-driven washing machine. Near Lincoln, Vermont taken by Louise Rosskam. 1940. Library of Congress

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

Image From http://uploads.edubilla.com/awards-winners/de/5e/suzan-shown-harjo.jpg

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

AnneSullivanMacyand Hellen Keller

“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

Image from United Stated Department of Agriculture

Image from United States Department of Agriculture

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

Image from Library of Congress

Image from Library of Congress

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!

Submitted by Elizabeth from Boston, MA

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

Originally published by Australian Open 2015

Photo originally published by Australian Open 2015

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

We believe the old maxim that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and we want to utilize that power to tell the stories of those who so often go unrecognized in history. We will be looking for photos that tell a story in themselves, think action shots over portraits!

Submit your photo today to hmcgraw@womenshistorycommission.org