Great Women in History

Did you know, that the first computer program was published by a woman (Ada Lovelace) in the 1840s? Or that the first known author was a priestess in ancient Mesopotamia (Enheduanna) in c. 23rd century BCE? Or how about that the famous Horsehead Nebula was first discovered by a female astronomer (Williamina Fleming) in 1888? Women have accomplished remarkable things throughout history, but we usually tell the same few stories every Women's History Month. This year, let's take a look at some old favorites, but also learn about some amazing women you might not have heard about before.

You may have heard of Madame C.J. Walker, the African American entrepreneur at the turn of the Twentieth Century who is often credited as the first female, self-made millionaire in America... but do you know Mary Ellen Pleasant? She was also an African American self-made millionaire who built her fortune through investments decades earlier.

You might already know Mary Shelley, the literary superstar who published Frankenstein at the age of 21... but do you know her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft? She was an early feminist and writer who published A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792.

You probably already know the literary powerhouse, Jane Austen, who has sold tens of millions of books since the early nineteenth century... but do you know Phillis Wheatley? She published a book of poems titled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773 while enslaved in Boston.

You might have heard of the pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who operated in the Caribbean in the Eighteenth Century ... but do you know about the pirate leader Zheng Yi Sao ? She sailed in the South China sea around the turn of the Nineteenth Century.

You likely already know about Amelia Earhart who, in 1928, became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean... but do you  know Bessie Coleman? She was the first African-American woman and the first Native American to hold a pilot license, which she earned in 1921.

You've heard of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist who led enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War... but have you heard of Sojourner Truth ? She was an abolitionist who escaped slavery in New York and went to court for the custody of her child in 1828.

You've heard of Matoaka (also known as Pocahontas), the Powhatan teenager who was captured and held for ransom by colonists in Jamestown, Virginia in 1613 ... but have you heard of Magdelaine La Framboise? She was a French-Ottawa businesswoman from the Grand River Valley of West Michigan who became one of the most successful fur traders in the country until she retired in 1822. 

Curious to learn about more amazing women in history? Check out HDL's collections:

On Her Own Ground

She Caught the Light

The Glass Universe

The Feminist Papers

Romantic Outlaws

Sojourner Truth

A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth

Galileo's Daughter

The Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Harriet Tubman


Anne Bonny

The Legend

Bessie Coleman

Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines

Amelia Earhart

Women in Science