9 Important Women in American History You May Not Have Heard of

Submitted by Vandana, Historyly.com

When we talk of American history, we find innumerable names which find a prominent place there, and most of them are that of men. However, it has been seen that many powerful and influential women have had a significant part in American history. Though some of these names are quite popular, some of the names have disappeared into oblivion. In this article, we will discuss some famous women in American history:

Hedy Lamarr

Image Credit: picryl

People know Hedy Lamarr as a glamor girl of Hollywood, but most do not know she is also an inventor. She worked alongside George Antheil, a composer for developing the idea of “frequency hopping.” This would have helped military radios from being bugged. Initially, her patent was ignored by the US Navy. But later, many technologies were developed based on the same concept without giving the lady any credit. It was much later that the original patent was discovered, and the lady was honored with an Electronic Frontier Foundation Award before her death in the year 2000.

Lee Krasner

Image Credit: flickr

She was an American abstract expressionist painter who did her work in the second half of the 20th century. She was the wife of renowned artist Jackson Pollock and her artworks were often overlooked and ignored. Though she was quite accomplished as a painter in her own way, Krasner never got the recognition she deserved. The volumes of her artwork were rediscovered in the 1970s. Among very few famous females in history, her work has a retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

Harriet Powers

Bible Quilt Harriet Powers, an African American farm woman from Clark County, Georgia created this lively, balanced expression of her religious fervor. She exhibited her quilt at the Athens Cotton Fair of 1886. Photo from the Smithsonian Treasury: American Quilts by Doris M. Bowman, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1991. Credit: Alfred Harrell (Smithsonian Institution)

Though Harriet Powers was born in Georgia into slavery, she is one of the greatest Southern textile artists in the history of the United States. For telling her stories, she sought help from quilts, where she stitched elaborate and stunning images from various myths, celestial phenomena, and Biblical stories. She also drew on West African artistic traditions. Just two of the quilts which she stitched remain today. One is preserved at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the other at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Margaret Hamilton

Image Credit: Wikipedia

When it comes to forgotten but prominent women in the history of America, the name of Margaret Hamilton should be taken with immense pride. We all know that in 1969 men set foot on the moon for the first time. Along with many well-known men, many women also played a crucial role in the Apollo 11 mission. Margaret Hamilton was one such female member of the team. She was the leader of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory used by NASA for the Apollo 11 mission. The lady led the development of the navigation system and the spacecraft’s guidance. She worked incessantly towards testing the software of Apollo 11.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Image Credit: Flickr

Born in the year 1815, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American abolitionist, suffragist, and social activist working towards early women’s rights movement. She organized the first women’s rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls. With the help of Susan B. Anthony, she formed the National Women’s Loyal League and co-established the National Woman Suffrage Association. The main aim of these works and associations was to help women in the United States gain the right to vote in the making of the country’s government.

Sybil Ludington

Image Credit: Wikimedia

The name of Paul Revere is closely associated with the American Revolutionaries. But there was a female revolutionary named Sybil Ludington who rode a long distance on a horse during the night for American freedom. When Sybil was just 16 years old, one day, her father learned that the British were to attack Danbury, Connecticut, 25 miles from the Ludington family’s home in New York. Sybil rode on a horse in torrential rain and covered 40 miles to announce to the village that the British were coming. After this successful ride, she served as a messenger in the Revolutionary War. However, she was lost into oblivion soon after that.

Margaret E. Knight

Image Credit: Wikipedia

When talking about famous women in America who made a significant impact, the name of Margaret E. Knight cannot be missed in any way. She was born in Maine and went a long way from working in a factory to inventing a product that had an impact on the whole world. The way groceries were packed changed forever when the paper bag was invented. The lady created a machine to produce paper bags with flat bottoms in mass volumes. The paper industry was also impacted to a great extent by the invention. Even today, such machines are designed based on the original design of Knight.

Mary Edwards Walker

Image Credit: Wikimedia

She is not only the first woman physician in the US Army but also the only woman who has received the Medal of Honor. Her application to join the Union Army as a Medical Officer was rejected, and she volunteered as a surgeon. She was captured and kept as a Prisoner of War. However, she was released and acted as an assisting surgeon. She attended to sick and wounded soldiers in the fields and hospitals at the risk of her own health. She fought strongly for women’s rights too.

Harriet Chalmers Adams

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Harriet Chalmers Adams was born in California and was an American writer, photographer, and explorer. As a young kid, she traveled with her father from Oregon to Mexico without fear. She could also speak six languages fluently as a young woman. The most important and interesting thing about the lady is that she traveled almost worldwide and wrote that in National Geographic. She also became an interesting lecturer and told people about her travel stories.

Check out these superwomen from America who created a great impact on the history of the country with their contributions.

Submitted by Vandana, June 2019, updated May 2023.

Vandana, Historyly.com

About the Author: Vandana is the Co-founder and Editor of Historyly, a teacher by profession. She has a passion for reading and writing about different historical periods. Historyly was started to make ancient history meaningful and interesting to the everyday reader.

Also See:

Deadlier Than the Male – Female Spies During the Civil War

Timeline of American Women in History

Women in American History

Women’s Suffrage in the United States