Category: women in history

Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was the first …

Catherine of
was the first wife of Henry VIII and Queen of England for a period of 24 years.
Although this is what she is mostly remembered for today, she was an important
figure of her time in political and cultural circles.

In 1507, she was the ambassador of the
Aragonese Crown to England, which made her the first female ambassador in
European history. She was a patron of Renaissance humanism and encouraged
female education. Thomas Cromwell affirmed about her that “If not for her sex, she could have defied
all the heroes of History.”

Ana Betancourt (1832-1901) is considered a nat…

Ana Betancourt (1832-1901) is
considered a national heroine in Cuba. She played an important role in the
country’s independence war against Spain.

She supported not only Cuban independence, but
female empancipation in the country, linking the cause to the abolition of slavery
and anti-colonialism. While she was living with other revolutionaries in the
forest, she was captured and exiled to Spain; even so, she continued to support
the cause from overseas. A state award has been established in her name in Cuba.

Amanda Vickery (b. 1962) is an English histori…

Amanda Vickery (b. 1962) is an English
historian and professor. She teaches early modern history at Queen Mary,
University of London.

She holds a PhD in modern history from the
University of London and has won several prizes for her work, including the
Whitfield Prize or the Wolfson History Prize. She is also well known for hosting
a series of BBC history programmes, such as Story
of Women and Art
, which was shortlisted for a Scottish Bafta.

Elizabeth Choy (1910-2006) is considered a war…

Elizabeth Choy (1910-2006)
is considered a war heroine in Singapore. During World War II, she supplied
medicine and messages to POWs interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese
occupation of the island.

She was born in present-day Malaysia and went to
study in Singapore, after which she pursued a career in education. During the
war she served as a volunteer nurse with the Medical Auxiliary Service, as well
as a second lieutenant in the women’s auxiliary arm of the Singapore Volunteer
Corps. She delivered packages to the prisoners even at great risk to herself,
and received numerous honours for her humanitarian work, including being made a
member of the Order of the British Empire.

Alice Huyler Ramsay (1886-1983) was a pioneer …

Alice Huyler Ramsay (1886-1983)
was a pioneer for women motorists. She was the first woman to drive across the
United States from coast to coast, a feat that she achieved in 1909.

She was an avid driver, and one of very few
women to participate in races in her time. She started her memorable journey in
June 1909 from New York and arrived in San Francisco two months later. She was
named ‘Woman Motorist of the Century’ by AAA in 1960, and was the first woman
ever inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2000.

Evelyn Bryan Johnson (1909-2012) was a colonel…

Evelyn Bryan Johnson (1909-2012)
was a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol in the United States. Throughout her
aviation career she logged the most flying hours by a female pilot in history.

She learned to fly in 1944 and served in the
Army Air Corps. She logged almost 56 thousand hours of flight, and broke the
record not only for that, but also for being the oldest flight instructor in
the world – she only quit flying at the age of 96.

Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972) was an Ame…

Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972) was an American author and
a notable figure among the group of expats living in Paris at the turn of the
century. She is remembered not only for her literature, but for her
unconventional life and lesbian relationships.

Born in Ohio,
she moved to Paris and published several books of poetry and short plays. She
held a literary salon for almost 60 years and promoted women’s writing. She
resolved to live freely and openly despite societal taboos, and said about her
homosexuality that “it is not a vice, is not deliberate, and harms no

Lakshmi Sahgal (1914-2012) was a revolutionary…

Lakshmi Sahgal (1914-2012) was a
revolutionary during the independence movement of India. She was an officer in
the Indian National Army and was known countrywide as ‘Captain Lakshmi’.

She studied
medicine and received her diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics in 1939. During
the independence movement, she commanded an all-female regiment of the army.
She founded the All India Democratic Women’s Association in 1981.

Geneviève Thiroux (1720-1805) was an 18th-cent…

Geneviève Thiroux (1720-1805) was an 18th-century
chemist, novelist and translator from France. She was the author of an
important study on the chemical process of putrefaction.

She was
highly educated in both humanities and sciences, and published numerous French
translations of novels and scientific treaties alike. She published her Essay on the History of Putrefaction in
1766 as the result of over 300 experiments she conducted herself.

Pauline Léon (1768-1838) was an important femi…

Pauline Léon
(1768-1838) was an important feminist figure during the French
Revolution. She founded the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women and
became its president in 1793.

She became involved in politics after witnessing the execution of several
riot leaders. In 1792, she suggested the formation of a female militia. Later,
in 1793, she became the leader of the Femmes Sans-Culottes.