First Woman Eye Surgeon and Prison Reform Activist

Image: Dr. Bella Chapin Barrows
Credit: Hartland Historical Society
Artist unknown

Dr. Bella Chapin Barrows accomplished many firsts in her 68 years of life. She was the first woman employed by the U.S. State Department, first woman to have a private medical practice in Washington DC, first woman ophthalmologist (a specialist in eye ailments) in the United States, first woman eye surgeon, and first woman professor at a medical school …Read More...

Suffragist and the First Woman Minister in the United States

Olympia Brown was a suffragist, the first woman to graduate from a theological school, and the first woman minister in the United States.* In 1863, the Universalist Church ordained Brown, the first woman ordained by that denomination. She was also one of the first generation suffragists who survived long enough to vote after the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920.

Image: Olympia Brown in 1919

*Antoinette Brown Blackwell is often …Read More...

Feminists and Activists for Women's Equal Rights

Image: Executive Committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association (1869)

Women fought for more than 200 years to obtain the rights that were guaranteed to men in the U.S. Constitution. When the nineteenth century began, a woman was not permitted to vote or hold office; she had few rights to her own property or earnings; she could not take custody of her children if she divorced; she did not have access …Read More...

Leader in the Integration of Philadelphia Streetcars

An undertaker's daughter, Caroline Le Count outscored all the boys in her class, struck up a correspondence with a Union army general, became only the second black woman named principal of a Philadelphia public school, and put her body on the line in the battle to integrate the streetcars. Soon she was noticed on the arm of a fellow activist, Octavius Catto.

Image: The streetcar shown here at Sixth and Jackson Street demonstrates …Read More...

Head Matron at Union Hotel Hospital

When her husband abandoned her, Hannah Ropes did not despair. She raised her two children, became an abolitionist and activist for social reform. She volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War and used her prominent social position to obtain enormous amounts of supplies for ill and wounded soldiers.

Early Years
Hannah Anderson Chandler was born June 13, 1809, in New Gloucester, Maine, the daughter and sister of prominent Maine lawyers. Hannah developed …Read More...

First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women's rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s - a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Image Credit: Breena Clarke Books

Childhood and Early Years
She was born free …Read More...