Jane Aitken

Businesswoman Who Printed First Bible in America Jane Aitken (1764–1832) is a significant historical figure in the early nineteenth century. She was one of the first women printers in the early United States and the first woman in the US to print an English translation of the Bible. Aitken was also a publisher, bookbinder, bookseller and businesswoman, a time when the independence of women was actively discouraged. She published at least sixty works from 1802 to 1812. Image: The Thomson Bible, printed by Jane Aitken Early Years Jane Aitken was born July 11, 1764 in Paisley, Scotland, the eldest of four children born to Robert and Janet Skeoch Aitken. Her father Robert Aitken was a stationery and book merchant in…

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Rebecca Lukens

First and Most Prominent Woman CEO in the United States Rebecca Lukens was an American businesswoman, who ran a steel mill from 1825 until her retirement in 1847. In the mid-1990s, the mill – the Lukens Steel Company – was considered the oldest continuously operating steel mill in the U.S. In 1994, Fortune magazine named Lukens America’s first female CEO of an industrial company and inducted her into the National Business Hall of Fame. Image: Portrait of businesswoman Rebecca Lukens Early Years Rebecca Webb Pennock, the eldest daughter of Isaac Pennock, was born on January 6, 1794. She grew up in the business, often accompanying her father in the mill. She had a great desire to learn, and with the…

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Madeline La Framboise

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…

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Lydia Pinkham

Businesswoman and Feminist in the Civil War Era Lydia Pinkham concocted a patent medicine tonic – Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound – to treat menstrual and menopausal symptoms. She began selling her home-brewed herbal remedy to make ends meet after her wealthy husband went bankrupt, and developed a patent medicine empire. In an age when women were second-class citizens, Lydia Pinkham not only succeeded in a man’s world, she was one of the most successful American businesswomen of the 19th century. In the field of marketing, she is considered a pioneer and an innovater. Lydia Estes was born February 9, 1819 in Lynn, Massachusetts, the tenth of the twelve children of William and Rebecca Estes, radical Quakers. William Estes was a…

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Lydia Sigourney

Poet, Author, Educator and Businesswoman Lydia Sigourney (1791–1865) was a popular poet, essayist and travel writer during the early and mid 19th century. Most of her works were published with just her married name Mrs. Sigourney. Her poetry, like her prose, was about public subjects – history, slavery, missionary work and current events – or treated personal matters, especially loss and death, as experiences common to all. In contrast to Emily Dickinson or Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigourney wrote for popular consumption, and was among the first American women to establish a successful writing career. Childhood and Early Years Lydia Huntley was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on September 1, 1791, the only child of a gardener-handyman and his wife. Lydia’s commitments…

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Hannah Watson

One of America’s Earliest Female Publishers In 1777 a fledgling nation of United States was emerging, and its patriots looked to their newspapers to keep them informed about the Revolutionary War. Boston papers had been shut down by the British, and in New York only Tory papers were being published. After her husband’s death Hannah Watson (1749-1807) assumed responsibility for publishing the Connecticut Courant, the oldest and largest newspaper in the colonies, becoming one of the first female publishers in Ameica.

Annie Burton

Former Slave Who Became a Businesswoman Annie Louise Burton was born a slave in Clayton, Alabama in 1858. She was the daughter of a woman named Nancy, the cook of Mr. and Mrs. William Farrin whose plantation was near Clayton. Annie’s father, a white man born in Liverpool, England, owned a plantation that was a long walk from the Farrin plantation. Annie grew up during the Civil War and remembered fondly her early days on the plantation. Excerpt, Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days: On the plantation there were ten white children and fourteen colored children. Our days were spent roaming about from plantation to plantation, not knowing or caring what things were going on in the great world outside our…

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Catherine Greene

Businesswoman and Inventor of the Cotton Gin Catherine Littlefield was born on February 17, 1755, on Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. Her father, John Littlefield, served in the Rhode Island legislature, and her mother, Phebe Ray, was a descendant of the earliest settlers of Block Island. Her mother died when Catharine was ten years old, and she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, Catharine Ray Greene and William Greene – the future governor of the state – in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Her aunt, an attractive energetic woman who was known as a charming hostess, took over the role of Catherine’s mother, and supervised her education as a young woman of the upper classes….

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Deborah Read Franklin

Wife of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin Deborah Read Franklin played an important role in the founding of the United States simply by taking on the management of her family businesses. By so doing, she allowed her husband, founding father Benjamin Franklin, the opportunity to actively pursue his role in state and national politics in the decades before and after the American Revolution. Deborah Read was born about 1707 to John Read, a British carpenter, and his wife Sarah White Read. Whether Deborah was born while her parents still lived in England, or after they moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is uncertain. The second of seven children, Read received little formal education. Almost nothing else is known about her childhood.

Mary Katherine Goddard

First Female Newspaper Publisher (1775) Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) is famous for printing the first copy of the Declaration of Independence that included the names of all the signers. Like her younger brother William, Mary Katherine was educated by her mother, Sarah Updike Goddard, who taught them Latin, French and the literary classics. Mary Katherine’s father, Dr. Giles Goddard, was postmaster of New London, Connecticut, and the family was living there when Dr. Goddard died in 1757, leaving a sizable estate. William Goddard completed an apprenticeship in the printing trade, and when he came of age, the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where Sarah Goddard lent her son the money to begin a printing business – the first in…

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