Inspirational Women

Katy Payne (1937- )

American Acoustical Biologist A week’s observation of baby elephants at the Washington Park Zoo in Portland, Oregon led scientist Katy Payne to leave her 15-year... continue »

Louise A. Boyd (1887-1972)

Arctic Explorer Louise Boyd was born into a wealthy California family but instead of using her inherited wealth to live grandly in a stately home,... continue »

Nancy Kelsey: First Woman to Travel to California by Wagon Train

Nancy Kelsey (1823-1896) was 17 years old and the mother of an infant daughter when she became the first woman to travel to California on... continue »

Sue Hendrickson (1949- )

Deep Sea Diver and Dinosaur Hunter Curiosity and serendipity helped Sue Hendrickson carve out an ideal life as an explorer. Hendrickson was raised in Indiana... continue »

Ruth Agnes McCall Robertson (1905-1998)

Photojournalist, War Correspondent, and Explorer Ruth Robertson was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1905 and one of her “firsts” was becoming the Peoria Journal Star’s... continue »

Bessie Coleman, Early Pilot

First African-American woman to earn an international pilot’s license Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) had limited career options as a woman and as an African American. When... continue »

Josephine Baker (1906-1975)

African American Performer who had to go to Europe to be Appreciated She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her... continue »

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)

Suffragist and founder of the League of Women Voters Carrie Chapman Catt dedicated her life to campaigning for woman suffrage both in the United States... continue »

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Jane Cochran): Investigative Reporter

Nellie Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran (1864-1922), made a name for herself as an investigative reporter for the New York World. She is generally remembered... continue »

Marian Wright Edelman (1939- )

Lawyer, activist, children's advocate Today we know her as the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.  Her list of accomplishments started early; she... continue »

Agnes Nestor (1880-1948)

First female president elected to head an international labor union Nestor began work in a glove-making factory when she was still in her teens, and... continue »

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010)

Native American community activist, tribal chief and tribal legislator Wilma Mankiller served her people as a Cherokee Chief from 1985-95, making her the first woman... continue »