7.16.2016

Christiana Carteaux Bannister

African American Hairdresser Who Saved Slaves



Image: Christiana Carteaux Bannister
Painted by her husband, Edward Mitchell Bannister

Christiana Carteaux Bannister was an African American abolitionist, philanthropist, and businessperson in New England in the mid-19th century. She met her husband, artist Edward Bannister, at her hair salon in Boston; the two were active in the Boston Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves reach the next station.

Early Years
She was born Christiana Babcock circa 1820 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island to African American and Narragansett Indian parents. Her African American grandparents most likely lived and died as slaves. Christiana's parents were probably born after Rhode Island's gradual emancipation act of 1784 was passed, and so gained complete freedom at the age of twenty-one. Little is known of her childhood.

11.04.2015

Mary Young Pickersgill

Woman Who Stitched the Star Spangled Banner

woman who made the Star-Spangled Banner
Mary Young Pickersgill stitched the Star-Spangled Banner, the large flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. When he saw the flag still flying above the embattled fort the next morning, the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become the national anthem of the United States of America.

Early Years
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February 12, 1776, Mary Young was the youngest of six children born to William Young and Rebecca Flower Young. Mary's father died when she was two years old. To support her family, Rebecca opened a flag shop in Philadelphia. Beginning in 1875, she made the Grand Union Flag, also called the Continental Colors, for the Continental Army. The Grand Union Flag preceded the Betsy Ross flag and is considered the first American flag. Young later moved her family to Baltimore, Maryland, where she taught Mary the craft of flag making from a very young age.

7.27.2015

Annie Adams Fields

Writer, Philanthropist and Suffragist in Boston

Annie Adams Fields was a poet, philanthropist and social reformer, who wrote dozens of biographies of famous writers who were also her friends. She founded innovative charities to assist the poor residents of Boston and campaigned for the rights of women, particularly the right to vote and to earn a medical degree.

Image: Young Annie Adams Fields

Annie Adams was born June 6, 1834, the sixth of seven children of a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents believed in progressive education for young women; as a girl, she attended a school in Boston that emphasized the classics and literature, which was run by George Emerson.

3.21.2015

Jane Stanford

Jane Stanford and her family

A Founder of Stanford University

Jane Lathrop Stanford, together with her husband Leland, founded Stanford University in 1891. The university was created as a memorial to their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid fever at age 15. After her husband's death in 1893, she operated the university until her death in 1905.

Image: Leland, Jane and Leland, Jr. in 1880

Early Years
Jane Elizabeth Lathrop was born August 25, 1828 in Albany, New York, to Dyer and Jane Ann Shields Lathrop, the third of six children. She was educated at home, and briefly attended the Albany Female Academy. Jane married lawyer Leland Stanford September 30, 1850, and moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin, where Leland had established a law practice.

3.03.2015

Clara Brown

benevolent resident and philanthropist of Colorado

Pioneer and Philanthropist in Early Colorado

Traditionally, women's philanthropic activities were tied to their husband's wealth, but some women did it all by themselves. A freed slave, Clara Brown established a successful laundry business during the Colorado Gold Rush. She was a black pioneer, the first African American woman in Denver, a community leader and philanthropist.

Image: Clara Brown between 1875 and 1880

Early Years
Born a slave in Virginia in 1800, at a young age Clara Brown and her mother were sold to Ambrose Smith, a Virginian tobacco farmer. Smith was a kindly man and a devout Methodist; he took Clara and her mother to his church services.

12.28.2014

Jane Hunt

women's rights activist from New York

An Organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention

Jane and Richard Hunt of Waterloo, New York were philanthropists who supported human rights causes. They hosted the tea party that led to the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848.

Image: Jane Hunt

Jane Clothier Master was born June 26, 1812 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Quakers William and Mary Master. At age thirty-three Jane Master married Richard Hunt in November 1845 and moved to Waterloo, New York, where she became a member of Richard's extended family of Hunts, McClintocks, Mounts, Plants and Pryors. All of these families were Quakers who had migrated to Waterloo from Philadelphia or New York State.

12.04.2014

Bernice Pauahi Bishop

Hawaiian princess and philanthropist

Hawaiian Princess and Philanthropist

Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a Hawaiian princess and the last direct descendant of the Royal House of Kamehameha. She is also remembered as one of the most remarkable philanthropists in the history of the Islands. Her bequest endowed the Kamehameha Schools, which specializes in educating the children of native Hawaiians.

Early Years
Pauahi Paki was born December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to high chiefs Abner Paki and Laura Konia Paki. She was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief who united the Hawaiian islands under his rule in 1810. Pauahi was reared with strong Hawaiian values and a bicultural education. She was gifted in music, and known for her generosity and kindness.

7.21.2013

Rebecca Gratz

painting of Philadelphia philanthropist

Jewish American Philanthropist and Educator

Rebecca Gratz helped establish several major charities for women, children and Jews in Philadelphia. According to legend, Washington Irving so vividly described Gratz to Sir Walter Scott that he was inspired to use her as the model for the Jewish maiden Rebecca in his novel Ivanhoe (1819), who chose to remain a spinster rather than marry a man of another faith.

Image: Rebecca Gratz by Thomas Sully
This portrait was painted in 1831 when Rebecca was 50, and was passed down through the family of Sara Gratz Moses, the daughter of Rebecca's sister Rachel who died in childbirth when Sara was five.

Rebecca Gratz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 4, 1781, a middle child among twelve children born to Michael and Miriam Simon Gratz, and grew up in the elite society of Philadelphia. Orphaned at an early age, Michael Gratz had immigrated to America from Germany and made his fortune as a merchant. The Gratzes were active members of Philadelphia's first synagogue, Mikveh Israel.

5.24.2013

Biddy Mason

photo of a California landowner and philanthropist

California Landowner and Philanthropist

Biddy Mason was an African American slave and midwife, who petitioned the court for her freedom, and became a wealthy Los Angeles landowner and philanthropist. As the town grew, her property became prime urban lots and she accumulated a fortune of nearly $300,000.

Early Years
Bridget Mason, known to everyone as Biddy, was born a slave on August 15, 1818 on a plantation in Hancock, Georgia. As a child, she was separated from her parents and sold several times, working on plantations in Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. She spent much of her childhood working on John Smithson's plantation in South Carolina, where she assisted the house servants and midwives.

4.18.2013

Lydia Moss Bradley

photograph of Lydia Moss Bradley, founder of Bradley University

Philanthropist and Founder of Bradley University

Lydia Moss Bradley (1816–1908) was a wealthy philanthropist famous for her humanitarian works in Illinois and the independent management of her wealth. A pioneer in business and philanthropy, she founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute (now Bradley University) in 1897. Bradley and her accomplishments would be notable in any age, but to achieve all of this as an independent woman in the 19th century makes her simply amazing.

Lydia Moss was born in Vevay, Indiana on July 31, 1816, the daughter of Zeally and Jennett Glasscock Moss. Prior to Lydia's birth, Zeally Moss owned a plantation in Kentucky, but decided that he did not want to make a living based on slavery. He reportedly, "gave the place rent free to his Negroes to work out their own living, while he crossed over into free territory to make his home and rear his family."

1.13.2013

Madeline La Framboise

female fur trader in northern and western Michigan

Native American Bussinesswoman

La Framboise was one of the most successful fur traders in Michigan, while it was still considered the Northwest Territory. At that time, fur trading was a difficult, dangerous and male-dominated occupation. Madame La Framboise was one of the most prominent early businesswomen in the territory.

Madeline Marcotte was born in February 1780 at Mackinac Island, the daughter of a French-Canadian fur trader Jean Baptiste Marcotte and Marie Nekesh, an Ottawa Indian. Madeline was only 3 months old when her father died. She was raised among her mother's people in an Ottawa village at the mouth of the Grand River near Grand Haven Michigan. She must have been a person of some status there, as her grandfather was Chief Kewinoquot.

10.17.2012

Elizabeth Smith Miller

suffragist and feminist Elizabeth Smith Miller with her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Feminist, Philanthropist and Social Reformer

Image: Elizabeth Smith Miller (right)
with daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822–1911 ) was a lifelong advocate and financial supporter of the women's rights movement. Miller was well known for her hospitality and often opened her home to raise money for the women's suffrage campaign. She is best known as a dress reformer, developing the practical knee-length skirt over pantaloons that became known as bloomers after activist Amelia Bloomer popularized them in her periodical The Lily.

7.27.2012

Isabella Graham

Scottish-born Sunday school teacher and charity worker in New York City

Scottish-American Educator and Philanthropist

Isabella Marshall Graham (1742-1814) was a Scottish-born charity worker, educator and philanthropist who founded one of the earliest relief societies in the United States. She was one of the leading figures in the movement to provide assistance to the poor who were coming into American cities in search of work in the early days of the industrial revolution. 

Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on July 29, 1742, Isabella Marshall grew up on an estate at Eldersley near Paisley. An inheritance from her grandfather enabled her to attend boarding school for seven years, where she received an excellent education. At 17, she became a member of the Church of Scotland under the ministry of Dr. John Witherspoon, later president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).