Pioneer Chemist and First Woman to Graduate from MIT

The most prominent American woman chemist of the 19th century, Ellen Swallow Richards (1842–1911) was a pioneer in sanitary engineering and the founder of home economics in the United States. She was the first woman admitted to any scientific school in the United States and the first female graduate of MIT. During her career, she also helped her break new ground for women in science.

Early Years
Born December 3, …

First American Woman to Graduate from Law School

Ada Kepley was the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school (1870). When she applied for a license, she was told that Illinois law did not permit women to practice law. By the time the law was overturned, Kepley had diverted her energies to the support of social reforms, particularly the temperance movement.

Ada Harriet Miser was born February 11, 1847 to Henry and Ann Miser in Somerset, …Read More...

Pioneer Woman Doctor in Oregon

Bethenia Angelina Owens-Adair (1840 – September 11, 1926) was a social reformer and one of the first female physicians in Oregon Country with an MD (Doctor of Medicine). She was also a divorcee and a single mother, who overcame many hardships to fulfill her dream.

Some Oregon women, such as Mary Anna Cooke Thompson, called themselves doctor, but they had not attended medical school or earned medical degrees. Owens-Adair and Mary Priscilla Avery Sawtelle earned …Read More...

Pioneer Doctor and Educator of Women in the Medical Professions

Dr. Mary Harris Thompson (1829–1895) was one of the first women to practice medicine in Chicago, and by some accounts the first female surgeon in the US. She was founder, head physician and surgeon of the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children, founder of the Women's Medical College, the first medical school for women in the Midwest, and Chicago's first nursing school.

Early Years
Mary Harris Thompson was born …

Pioneer Women in the American Legal Profession

Though women lawyers did not enter the legal profession until after the Civil War, that does not mean that women did not want to become lawyers in the antebellum period. It only means that there were no records kept.

First, women were denied admission to law schools, and then they were denied permission to practice law. Either the legislature or the supreme court of each state determined the requirements for admission to the …Read More...

Women Find New Power and Independence

The American Civil War illustrates how gender roles can be transformed when circumstances demand that women be allowed to enter into previously male-dominated positions of power and independence. This was the first time in American history that women played a significant role in a war effort, and by the end of the war the notion of true womanhood had been redefined.

During the decades prior to the Civil War, female activists flocked to …Read More...