Louisa Stevenson (1835-1908) was a suffragist and women’s rights activist from
Scotland. She was particularly active in the campaign for female education.
She was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies’
Educational Association, and was part of the efforts which led to Scottish universities
being open to female students in 1892. She was one of the first women to ever
serve on a hospital board, and helped manage the Jubilee Nurses Institute and
the Colonial Nursing Organisation.
Tatyana Kuznetsova (1941-2018) was the youngest person ever selected to be a part of a
human spaceflight programme. This happened in 1961, when she was selected as
one of five female cosmonauts by the Soviet government.
She worked as a stenographer for the Ministry
of Radioelectronic Industry, but also took up parachuting as a hobby, becoming
a regional and national champion by the age of 20. She was selected for the
programme as a preparation for the first woman in space – an honour that
eventually went to Valentina Tereshkova.
Maria Dalle Donne (1778-1842) was the first woman to ever obtain a doctorate in
medicine. She achieved this in 1799 at the University of Bologna.
Her research focused on female reproduction and
fertility, as well as neonatal medical issues. She was the second woman to ever
become a member of the prestigious Ordine
dei Benedettini Accademici Pensionati, and in 1832 she became the Director of the Department of Midwifery at
the University of Bologna.
Viola Desmond (1914-1965) was a civil rights activist in Canada. She helped give
rise to the civil rights movement in her country by challenging racial
segregation, refusing to give up her seat in a whites-only area of a cinema in
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
She was a beautician who opened her own
salon and training school, specifically for black women who were being denied
entry to whites-only beauty schools. Her defying gesture happened in 1964, and
she was forced to spend a night in jail and pay a $20 fine. She was granted a
posthumous pardon in 2010 (the first ever in Canada), and was the first black
Canadian women to be featured on a banknote.
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) was a famous Welsh-English actress, best known for her
roles in tragedies and particularly Shakespearean plays. She was referred to by
a contemporary critic as “tragedy personified”.
She started her career in 1774, and played
numerous roles until her retirement in 1812. Her most famous and lauded
performance was as Lady Macbeth. An acting award in her name has been in
existence since 1952.
Above: Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth, Robert
Vlasta Vraz (1900-1989)
was a relief worker in post-war Czechoslovakia. She served as the director of
American Relief for Czechoslovakia, as well as president of the Czechoslovak
National Council of America.
She spent most of her life in Prague and
Chicago, along with a period of time where she worked in Washington DC as a
secretary for the exiled Czech government. In 1945 she started directing the
American Relief, helping to distribute $4 million in food, medicine and other
support. For her humanitarian efforts, she was inducted into the Order of the
White Lion, the highest order of the Czech Republic.
Sophia of Prussia (1870-1932) was Queen consort of Greece during the early 20th
century. She is remembered for her charitable actions and philanthropy.
A granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she
married the Greek heir to the throne in 1889 and first became queen in 1913.
She was very active in developing soup kitchens and hospitals throughout the
country, and founded the Union of Greek Women, which provided assistance to
refugees from the Ottoman Empire. She was also a founder of the Greek Animal
Protection Society. During wars, she set up field hospitals and oversaw the
training of volunteer nurses.
of Greece and Denmark (1896-1982) was the queen
mother of Romania during the 1940s. She is remembered particularly for her
efforts to save Romanian Jews during the Holocaust, for which she was awarded
the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
She became queen of Romania in 1921, and
queen mother in 1940, when her son Michael became king. She became his closest
adviser and made efforts to halt the deportations of Romanian Jews, opposing the
dictator Ion Antonescu.
Brooks (1874-1970) was a painter who specialised in
portraits. She is best known for her paintings of women in masculine or
She started studying art in Rome, where she
was the only female student in her life drawing class – a very unusual place for
a woman at the time. She later moved to Capri, where she lived and worked in
poverty; she found success later on, in the art circles of Paris. She was also
well known for her uninhibited lifestyle and sexuality, and the love triangle
she formed with Natalie Clifford Barney and Lily de Gramont.
Above, right: Miss Natalie Barney, 1920
Scott (1921-2019) was an
American historian, specialised in the history of the South, with a focus on
women in history. She taught at Duke University, where she became the first
female chair of the history department.
Her best known book
is the 1970 The Southern Lady: From
Pedestal to Politics, now considered a classic and a stepping stone in the
field of Southern women’s history. She served as the president of the Organization
of American Historians and of the Southern Historical Association.