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Women's History Month Biographies

Amelia Earhart
Born: July 24, 1897, Atchison, KS
Mom: Amelia "Amy" (née Otis)
Dad: Samuel "Edwin" Stanton Earhart
Partner: George P. Putnam (m. 1931-1937)
Known for: many early aviation records, including first woman to fly
solo across the Atlantic Ocean, disappearing during her final
round-the-world attempt
Quotes: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” “Women must try to do
things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a
challenge to others.” “Never interrupt someone doing something you
said couldn’t be done.” “Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun
of it is worth the price.” “Never do things others can do and will do, if
there are things others cannot do or will not do.” “The most effective
way to do it, is to do it.”
Recognition: first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, first
person to fly solo from Hawaii to mainland USA, women’s altitude
world record (14,000ft) (1922), broke many other records
Disappeared: July 2, 1937, Pacific Ocean, en route to Howland Island
from Lae, New Guinea
Eleanor Roosevelt
Born: October 11, 1884, NY, NY Mom: Anna Rebecca Hall
Dad: Elliott Bulloch Partner: Franklin D. Roosevelt (m. 1905-1945)
Known for: first Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights
(1946-1952), first chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status
of Women (1961-1962), first US Representative to the UN
Commission on Human Rights (1947-1953), FLOTUS (1933-1945),
being very tall (5’11”)
Quotes: “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly
and courageously.” “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds
discuss events; small minds discuss people.” “Friendship with one’s
self is all important, because without it one can not be friends with
anyone else in the world.” “Do what you feel in your heart to be right
— for you’ll be criticized anyway.” “It is better to light a candle than
curse the darkness.” “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by
every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You
are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the
next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you
cannot do.”
Recognition: National Women’s Hall of Fame (1973), bronze statue
before the UN emblem (only Presidential memorial to depict a First
Lady), 100 Women of the Year, Woman of the Year 1948, “Woman
hero” by The My Hero Project
Died: November 7, 1962, NY, NY
Frida Kahlo
Born: July 6, 1907, Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
Mom: Matilde Calderón y González
Dad: Guillermo Kahlo
Partner: Diego Rivera (m. 1940–1954), Diego Rivera (m. 1929–1939)
Known for: painting surrealism, self taught, bus accident
Quotes: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the
person I know best.” “I hope the leaving is joyful; and I hope never to
return.” “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams.
I painted my own reality.”
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley,
and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can
Recognition: movies and stage performances about her life, her
home is a museum, US postal stamp (2001), Mexican 500 peso note
features Love’s Embrace of the Universe, Earth, (Mexico), I, Diego,
and Mr. Xolotl
Died: July 13, 1954, Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
Nellie Bly
Original name: Elizabeth Jane Cochrane
Born: May 5, 1864, Cochran's Mills, Armstrong County, PA
Mom: Mary Jane Kennedy
Dad: Michael Cochran
Partner: Robert Seaman ​(m. 1895; died 1904)
Known for: Journalist, writer, inventor, trip around the world in 72
days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg,
and an exposé in which she worked undercover to report on a mental
institution from within, completely changed investigative journalism
Quotes: “Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish
anything.” “I said I could and I would. And I did.” “It is only after one is
in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are
in the world.” “I always have a comfortable feeling that nothing is
impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right
direction. When I want things done, which is always at the last
moment, and I am met with such an answer: "It's too late. I hardly
think it can be done;" I simply say:
‘Nonsense! If you want to do it, you can do it. The question is, do you
want to do it?’”
Recognition: National Women’s Hall of Fame
Died: January 27, 1922 , NY, NY
Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator
Born: 69 B.C., Alexandria, Egypt
Mom: Cleopatra V
Dad: Ptolemy XII Auletes
Partner: Mark Antony (m. 32 BC–30 BC), Ptolemy XIII Theos
Philopator (m. ?–47 BC), Ptolemy XIV Philopator
Known for: last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt
Crowned: 51 BC
Quote: "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale. Her infinite variety."
-William Shakespeare
"For her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether
incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse
with her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with
the persuasiveness of her discourse and the character which was
somehow diffused about her behaviour towards others, had something
stimulating about it." - Greek biographer Plutarch
"There was sweetness also in the tones of her voice; and her tongue,
like an instrument of many strings, she could readily turn to whatever
language she pleased." - Greek biographer Plutarch
Recognition: Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra
Died: August 30 B.C., Alexandria, Egypt. The location of the tomb of
Antony and Cleopatra remains unknown.
Joan of Arc
“Maid of Lorraine” “Maid of Orleans”
Born: January 6, 1412, Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France
Mom: Isabelle Romée
Dad: Jacques d’Arc
Known for: heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian
phase of the Hundred Years’ War, hearing voices since 13 telling her
to save France, leading several assaults against the
Anglo-Burgundians, being burned at the stake after being accused of
Quotes: “The poor folk gladly came to me, for I did them no
unkindness, but helped them as much as I could.” “If I said that God
did not send me, I should condemn myself; truly God did send me.”
“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.” “I was admonished ot
adopt feminine clothes; I refused, and still refuse. As for other
avocations of women, there are plenty of other women to perform
Recognition: canonized as a Catholic Saint
Died: May 30, 1431, Rouen, France
Marie Curie
Born: November 7, 1867, Warsaw, Poland
Mom: Bronisława
Dad: Władysław Skłodowski
Partner: Pierre Curie (m. 1895–1906)
Known for: discovering Radium and Polonium
Quotes: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”
“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what
remains to be done.” “I was taught that the way of progress was
neither swift nor easy.” “A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere
technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that
impress him as though they were fairy tales.” “I have frequently been
questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life
with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy.”
Recognition: first woman to win a Nobel Prize, only woman to win the
Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two
scientific fields. She was the first woman to become a professor at the
University of Paris in 1906, Nobel Prize in Physics (1903), Davy Medal
(1903), Matteucci Medal (1904), Elliott Cresson Medal (1909), Albert
Medal (1910), Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1911), Willard Gibbs Award
(1921), Cameron Prize for Therapeutics of the University of Edinburgh
Died: July 4, 1934, Sancellemoz, France
Emily Dickinson
Born: December 10, 1830, Amherst, MA
Mom: Emily Norcross
Dad: Edward
Partner: was reluctant to greet guests and eventually her bedroom
Known for: poet, writer
Quotes: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and
sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.”
“The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To
her divine Majority — Present no more —” “Tell the truth, but tell it
slant.” “The brain is wider than the sky.” “Forever is composed of
nows.” “Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do
not tell.” “Hold dear to your parents for it is a scary and confusing
world without them.” “We turn not older with years but newer every
Recognition: museum, postage stamp (1971), inspired and
influenced many
Died: May 15, 1886, Amherst, MA
Susan B. Anthony
Born: February 15, 1820, Adams, MA
Mom: Lucy
Dad: Daniel
Partner: "I never found the man who was necessary to my happiness.
I was very well as I was." "By marriage, the husband and wife are one
person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman
is suspended during the marriage"
Known for: women’s rights activist, social reformer, social equity,
Quotes: Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and
nothing less.
There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to
make laws and elect lawmakers.
I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of
man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.
Independence is happiness.
No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.
Recognition: Susan B. Anthony dollar, National Women’s Hall of
Fame (1973), Hall of Fame for Great Americans (1950), 2 postage
stamps, commemorative holiday- Feb. 15
Died: March 13, 1906, Rochester, NY
Florence Nightingale
“Lady with the lamp”
Born: May 12, 1820, Florence, Italy
Mom: Frances Smith
Dad: William Edward Shore
Partner: did not marry, perhaps because of religious devotion to her
career, she often referred to herself in the masculine, as for example
"a man of action" and "a man of business
Known for: Statistician, social reformer, founder of modern nursing,
trained nurses, cared for wounded soldiers
Quotes: “I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any
excuse.” “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”
“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first
requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”
“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the
world would never reach anything better.” “Rather, ten times, die in the
surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”
“To be ‘in charge’ is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures
yourself but to see that everyone else does so too.”
Recognition: Royal Red Cross (1883), Lady of Grace of the Order of
St. John (LGStJ) (1904), Order of Merit (1907),
Died: August 13, 1910, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom
Rosalind Franklin
Born: July 25, 1920, Notting Hill, London, United Kingdom
Mom: Muriel Frances Waley
Dad: Ellis Arthur
Partner: never married, called one man “an ideal match”
Known for: chemist, X-ray crystallographer, work was critical to
understanding DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite
Quotes: “Science, for me, gives a partial explanation for life. In so far
as it goes, it is based on fact, experience and experiment.”
“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
Recognition: Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, her work led to others
receiving Nobel Prizes, schools, buildings, laboratories, ExoMars
rover, 50- pence coin, Time’s 100 Women of the Year (1953),
Died: April 16, 1958, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
Though not given enough credit in life because of her gender, she has
been referenced in many movies, shows, and plays.
Chien-Shiung Wu
Born: May 31, 1912, Liuhe, Taicang, Suzhou, China
Mom: Fan Fu-Hua
Dad: Wu Zhong-Yi (吳仲裔)
Partner: Luke Chia-Liu Yuan ​(m. 1942)​Luke Chia-Liu Yuan ​(m. 1942)​
Known for: discovered Promethium, worked on the Manhattan
Project, separated uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238
isotopes, Wu experiment, Parity (quantum mechanics)
Quotes: “There is only one thing worse than coming home from the lab
to a sink full of dirty dishes, and that is not going to the lab at all!” “It is
shameful that there are so few women in science. [...] In China there
are many, many women in physics. There is a misconception in
America that women scientists are all dowdy spinsters. This is the
fault of men. In Chinese society, a woman is valued for what she is,
and men encourage her to accomplishments yet she remains eternally
Recognition: Wolf Prize in Physics (inaugural, 1978), Comstock Prize
in Physics (1963), Ellis Island Medal of Honor, National Medal of
Science for Physical Science (1976), Bonner Prize (1975)
Died: February 16, 1997, New York, NY
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Born: March 15, 1933, Brooklyn
Mom: Celia
Dad: Nathan
Partner: Martin D. Ginsburg (m. 1954; died 2010)​“If you have a
caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs
it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his,
and I think that made all the difference for me.”
Known for: lawyer and justice of the Supreme Court of the US (19932020)
Quotes: "My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be
your own person, be independent."
"Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life.
Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my
dreams come true." "Real change, enduring change, happens one
step at a time."
"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will
lead others to join you."
"Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them
the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."
Recognition: Hall of Fame (2002), 100 Most Powerful Women
(2009), Time’s 100 Most Influential People (2015)
Died: September 18, 2020, Washington, D.C.
Aretha Franklin
Born: March 25, 1942, Memphis, TN
Mom: Barbara Siggers
Dad: C.L. Franklin
Partner: Ted White ​(m. 1961-1969)​, Glynn Turman ​(m. 1978-1984)​
Known for: singer, song writer, pianist, actress, civil rights activist
Quotes: “I think women and children and older people are the three
least-respected groups in our society.” “It really is an honor if I can be
inspirational to a younger singer or person. It means I’ve done my
job.” “We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white.
It’s our basic human right.” “Be your own artist, and always be
confident in what you’re doing. If you’re not going to be confident, you
might as well not be doing it.”
Recognition: 18 Grammys, 6 American Music Awards, Walk of Fame
star, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Died: August 16, 2018, Detroit, MI
Margaret Mead
Born: December 16, 1901, Philadelphia, PA
Mom: Emily
Dad: Edward
Partner: Gregory Bateson (1936–1950), Reo Fortune (1928–1935),
Luther Cressman (1923–1928)
Known for: Cultural anthropologist, author
Quotes: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever
has.” “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like
everyone else.” “Never believe that a few caring people can't change
the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” “I must admit that I
personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual
makes to her or his fellow human beings.” “What people say, what
people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”
Recognition: Kalinga Prize (1970), National Women’s Hall of Fame,
Presidential Medal of Freedom, books, schools, postal stamp (1998)
Died: November 15, 1978, New York, NY
Dolores Huerta
Born: April 10, 1930, Dawson, NM
Mom: Alicia Chavez
Dad: Juan Ferndez
Partner: Ralph Head (divorced), Ventura Huerta
Known for: labor leader, civil rights activist, co-founder of the National
Farmworkers Association
Quotes: "Sí, se puede." “If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how
can you forgive others?” “We as women should shine light on our
accomplishments and not feel egotistical when we do. It's a way to let
the world know that we as women can accomplish great things!” “We
can't let people drive wedges between us... because there's only one
human race.” “When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths
that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict. And when you
have a conflict, then it's an educational process to try to resolve the
conflict. And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the
conflict involved so that they can dialogue.” “Giving kids clothes and food
is one thing, but it's much more important to teach them that other
people besides themselves are important and that the best thing they
can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people.”
Recognition: included in many ballads and murals, April 10- Dolores
Huerta Day, Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), asteroid,
elementary, inaugural recipient of Eleanor Roosevelt Award for
Human Rights, “Maggie” Award from Planned Parenthood,
Age: 90
Kamala Harris
Born: October 20, 1964, Oakland, CA
Mom: Shyamala Gopalan Harris
Dad: Donald Harris
Partner: Doug Emhoff (first second gentleman)
Known for: first woman VP, first African American and Asian American VP
Quotes: “My mother used to tell me – she would tell my sister – my
mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first
to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’ And that’s why
breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also
to create that path for those who will come after us.” “What I want
young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice
matters. You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career
where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the
experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in
those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you
applauding you on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So
you use that voice and be strong.” “There will be people who say to
you, ‘You are out of your lane.’ They are burdened by only having the
capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But
don't you let that burden you.”
Recognition: Thurgood Marshall Award (2005), Newsweek’s “20 of
America’s Most Powerful Women” (2005), Time’s “100 Most Influential
People in the World” (2013), Biden and Harris named Time’s Person
of the Year (2020)
Age: 56
Billie Jean King
Born: November 22, 1943, Long Beach, CA
Mom: Betty, a swimmer
Dad: Bill Moffitt, firefighter, basketball, baseball, and track
Partner: Larry King (m. 1965–1987)
Coaches: Frank Brennan and Alice Marble
Known for: Winner of “Battle of the Sexes,” founded the Women’s
Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation, first
prominent female athlete to come out publicly, former World No. 1
professional tennis player, won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16
in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles.
Plays: right handed (one-handed backhand), partners with Ilana Kloss
Quotes: “Champions keep playing until they get it right.
If your partner wants to be private, you have to respect that.
Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozy, and don't be afraid
to hit the ball.” “I wanted to use sports for social change.”
“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it
teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about
life.” “Women get the attention when we get into the men's arena, and
that's sad.” “I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing
towards being a champion.”
Recognition: 12 Grand Slam Singles, 16 GS Doubles, many others
Age: 77
Maria Grever
Michelle Obama
Oprah Winfrey
Whoopi Goldberg
Lucretia Mott
Sojourner Truth
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Alice Paul
Billie Holiday
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon
Abigail Smith Adams
Jane Addams
Louisa May Alcott
Mary Edwards Walker