Historic Women List

Also see: Women in American History

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Annie Heloise Abel (1873-1947) – Historian and professor renowned for her studies of Native Americans. Abel was born at Fernhurst, Sussex, England on February 18, 1873. She immigrated to the United States in 1885 and her family settled at Salina, Kansas. She obtained her master’s degree in history in 1900 from the University of Kansas before studying at Cornell University and later receiving a doctorate degree from Yale. She then became a history professor at various colleges and began to author a number of works on Native Americans, particularly in relation to their participation and experiences during the American Civil War period and slave-holding Indians. She also studied British policy towards natives throughout the British Empire, not just in the new world. In 1921, she married an Australian named George Cockburn Henderson and briefly became Annie Heloise Abel Henderson. However, the marriage was brief and she returned to the United States, settling in Aberdeen, Washington. Abel continued to write and during her day became an acknowledged expert on her studies of Native Americans. She died of cancer on March 14, 1947, and was buried at Montesano, Washington.

Jane Addams (1860-1935) –  A pacifist, suffragist, an advocate of social reform and, in 1931, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She turned her prize winnings over to the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she was president.

Hannah Adams (1755-1831) ­ Historian and the first professional woman writer in the United States, publishing A Summary History of New England in 1799.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) – A servant, seamstress, teacher and Civil War Nurse, Alcott’s fame came as an author.

Susan “Doc Susie” Anderson (1870-1960) – A female pioneer physician in Colorado.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906) ­ Leader in the American Anti­Slavery Society, she later turned her life’s devotion to women’s suffrage. Anthony was born near Adams, Massachusetts on February 15, 1820, to a liberal Quaker abolitionist family. Receiving a good education, she herself would begin to teach by the time she was just 16. She soon began to dedicate her life to the women’s suffrage movement, paving the way for the for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 which gave women the right to vote. Though she never lapsed in her commitment to women’s rights, she focused her energies as the Civil War approached to abolition and was the principal New York agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. After the war, however, she returned to her suffrage movement activities and for 45 years she traveled throughout the United States by stagecoach, wagon, carriage, and trains making 75-100 speeches a year. Though she was key to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, she would not live to see implemented, as she died 14 years prior of pneumonia and heart failure on March 13, 1906.


Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey (1742-1825) – Better known as “Mad Ann”, she was a colorful figure, scout, spy, and Indian fighter during the colonial Indian Wars and the American Revolution.

Dona Gertrudis “La Tules” Barcelo (1800-1852) – A saloon owner and master gambler in the Territory of New Mexico at the time of the Mexican-American War. She amassed a small fortune by capitalizing on the flow of American and Mexican traders involved with the Santa Fe Trail.

Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) – A black journalist and militant civil rights leader, she was a co-founder of the NAACP and the first president of the Negro Fellowship League.

Clara Barton (1824-1912) ­ Called the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her first aid heroism during the Civil War, she was instrumental in founding the American Red Cross.

Ann BassettAnne Bassett (1878-1956) – The daughter or ranch owners at Brown’s Hole, near the Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah border, Bassett became a “member” of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.

Martha McFarlane McGee Bell (1735-1829) – Became a heroine in the American Revolution after an encounter with General Cornwallis and the British Army and collected valuable information for the American cause.

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) – A French actress, Bernhardt made her way to the United States and was so popular, she was soon dubbed “The Divine Sarah”.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) ­ The daughter of former slaves, Mary became a writer, educator, a champion of humanitarian causes, and an advocate of civil rights and education for Blacks.

Mary Bickerdyke (1817-1901) – An energetic heroine whose sole aim during the Civil War was to more efficiently care for wounded Union soldiers.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) – ­The first American woman to receive a medical doctor degree in 1849, she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and co-founded the Women’s Medical College in 1868.

Celia Ann “Mattie” Blaylock (1850-1888) – Involved with Wyatt Earp after the death of his first wife, Blaylock is often termed as Wyatt’s “common law” wife.

Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894) ­ Social reformer, suffragist, and publisher of the temperance paper The Lily, she was ridiculed by 19th-century men for the liberated “pants” outfits she popularized.

Lizzie Borden (1860-1927) – The only suspect in the ax murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, in 1892, was arrested, tried, and acquitted in Fall River, Massachusetts. No one else was ever investigated for the crime, and the case remains “officially” unsolved.

Margaret Heffernan Borland (1824-1873) – A Texas Rancher, Borland owned a herd of more than 10,000 cattle in 1873. She was said to be the only woman known to have led a cattle drive during the days of the Old West.

Anne Bonny, Lady Pirate

Anne Bonny, Lady Pirate

Anne Bonny – Lady Pirate (1700?-1782?) – A female pirate, Bonny was born in County Cork, Ireland. Anne fell in love with a handsome young sailor, ran away to the West Indies with him. Leaving her husband, Anne sailed on Captain “Calico Jack” Rackham’s ship, where she gained fame as a bloodthirsty pirate. Captured, she was tried and convicted of piracy, but there are no records indicating she was ever hanged.

Sara Bourdett, aka: Great Western (1813-1866) – An adventurer and camp follower, Sara Bourdett cooked for the soldiers during the Mexican-American War. Born in Tennessee, Bourdett went to Texas at the outbreak of the Mexican War and followed the troops driving a buggy and cooking for the soldiers. Packing two pistols and standing six foot tall, she quickly earned the nickname “Great Western,” after the massive ship that was the second steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean. She caught up with Zachary Taylor and his troops at Matamoros, Mexico and set up her cook tent throughout the campaign, providing meals for the officers of the 5th Infantry and 2nd Dragoons. In 1849 she became so ill in Chihuahua that she was forced to return to the United States, but after she recovered, she once again set up her cook tent for the soldiers in El Paso, Texas. She followed John Glanton, Texas soldier and infamous scalp hunter, to Yuma, Arizona. There, she married A.J. Bowman and later died there. While providing her assistance to the troops she was bestowed an “honorary brevet” as a colonel for her services in Mexico. Her remains were later re-interred at the Presidio at San Francisco, California.

Eilley Orrum Bowers (1827–1903) – Known as the “Queen of the Comstock” and the “Washoe Seeress,” Bowers is remembered as one of the most important women in the development of Utah.

Mary Elizabeth Bowser (1839?-??) – Born as a slave in Richmond, Virginia, she was later freed and became a member of Jefferson Davis’ staff during the Civil War. There, she acted as a prominent Union spy.

Isabella Marie Boyd

Isabella Marie Boyd

Marie Isabella Boyd (1844-1900) – Best known as Belle Boyd or Cleopatra of the Secession, she was a Confederate spy in the American Civil War. She operated from her father’s hotel in Virginia and provided valuable information to Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in 1862.

Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919) – See Madam C.J. Walker

Antoinette Louisa Brown (1825-1921) ­ Social reformer, abolitionist and suffragist, she was the nation’s first ordained female minister, one of the first American women to attend college, and an author of books on evolution and social theory.

Margaret “Molly” Tobin Brown (1867-1932) – Better known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” Molly survived the sinking of the Titanic. But before this disaster she was involved in women’s rights, helping to establish the Colorado chapter of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.

Julie Bulette – (18??-1867) – A popular Virginia City, Nevada prostitute in the 1860s. She was found murdered in her home on January 20, 1867.

Laura Bullion, aka: Della Rose, Rose of the Wild Bunch (1876?-1961) – Bullion was a “member” of outlaw Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.

S.M. Burche – Appointed as a U.S. Deputy Marshal by C.H. Thompson of Guthrie, Oklahoma, Burche was one of the few women to be appointed as a deputy during the 19th century.

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Also see: Women in American History

1 thought on “Historic Women List”

  1. What about Mary Kay Ash? She was a great woman who helped start the real mobilizing of American women selling to each other. She is a legend and worthy of a mention. After she helped provide women with an income, she turned around and started the Mary Kay Foundation to help women in difficult circumstances (http://www.marykayfoundation.org/)

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