Anna Zenger

Colonial Newspaper Publisher The Trial of John Peter Zenger Anna Catherine Maulin was born in Germany, and immigrated as a child in 1710 with her family to escape religious persecution. Upon their arrival, the Maulin family settled in what is now New York City. John Peter Zenger came to America from Germany with his parents in 1710 at the age of 13. His father died on the trip, leaving his mother to raise the children alone. Zenger’s mother agreed that John Peter would work as an indentured servant for William Bradford, who was a pioneer printer in the middle colonies. Zenger spent the next eight years with Bradford learning about printing.

Elizabeth Timothy

First Woman Editor-Publisher in America Elizabeth Timothy ( or Timothee) is recognized as America’s first female newspaper editor and publisher, and one of the world’s first female journalists. She performed these roles with distinction, especially considering her other responsibilities as mother, homemaker and widow. Louis Timothy and his family were among a group of French Huguenot immigrants from Rotterdam who arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Britannia of London in 1731. Named on the ship’s roster were Louis and four Timothy children: Peter, Louis, Charles, and Mary, ranging in age from 1 to 6. Although Elizabeth Timothy’s name was not on the roster, she undoubtedly accompanied the family.

Anne Geddy

Colonial Virginia Woman Image: James Geddy House Located on the Palace Green across from Bruton Parish Church, the two-story James Geddy House is one of the original buildings in the Historic Area. The low-pitched roof and lack of dormers are unusual features, as are the door and balcony above the front porch. The beautiful home also housed the diverse business ventures of the Geddy family – from a foundry to a watch repair. Anne Geddy was the wife of James Geddy Sr., who probably arrived in Virginia from Scotland sometime before 1733. Geddy was primarily a gunsmith, but he also worked in wrought iron and cast brass. By 1738, he had located his business on two lots on a site…

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Dutch Women

Women of New Amsterdam and New Netherland For more than forty years, the women living in New Amsterdam (New York City) experienced more autonomy, more rights and more income than other colonial women. Dutch Law Colonists in New Amsterdam and New Netherland lived for the most part under the law as it was in the Netherlands. The orders given to the first settlers by the Dutch West India Company were to establish law and order in the colony as it was in the fatherland. When new situations arose, the Director General and Council enacted appropriate legislation, though still in conformity with the laws of the Netherlands.

Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse

Philipse Manor The Year: 1659 The Philipses owned 52,000 acres of land along the Hudson River, where they constructed this lavish estate, clustered with mills, barns and other structures. Born circa 1630, Margaret Hardenbroeck’s early life in Holland is unclear, but she would have likely received some education. Holland was the only European country in seventeenth-century Europe to provide primary education to females. The Reformed Church urged equality for women, and the Dutch brought their liberal attitudes concerning women’s rights to the New World. In 1659, Margaret came to New Amsterdam (later New York) as an ambitious twenty-two-year-old with an unusual job—she was a factor for a well-to-do cousin, managing his New World dealings. A factor is an agent employed…

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Margaret Haughery

Women in Business in the Civil War Era Margaret Haughery was a business entrepreneur and philanthropist who became known as the Mother of the Orphans. She devoted her life to the care and feeding of the poor and hungry, and to funding and building orphanages throughout the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Born into poverty and orphaned at a young age, she began her adult life as a washwoman and a peddler – yet she died an epic business woman and philanthropist who received a state funeral. Image: Margaret Haughery with Two Orphans Painting by Jacques Amans, New Orleans, c. 1842 Out of the horror of civil war and a nation of diverse people bound by a shared tragedy, armies…

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Lydia Hamilton Smith

Abolitionist and African American Businesswoman S. Epatha Merkerson plays Lydia Hamilton Smith in the 2012 film Lincoln, alongside Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Merkerson owes much of her fame to her role as Lt. Anita Van Buren on the original Law and Order television series. Lydia Hamilton Smith had a special relationship with U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. She became Stevens’ housekeeper in 1847, and for 25 years she managed his homes and businesses. Through their partnership she gained the skills and social contacts necessary to become a successful businesswoman after his death. Lydia Hamilton was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on February 14, 1815, to…

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Martha Coston

Inventor of Night Signal Flares for the U.S. Navy Martha Hunt Coston was born in 1826 in Baltimore, and moved to Philadelphia with her widowed mother, brothers, and sisters in the 1830s. At the age of 16, Martha eloped with Benjamin Franklin Coston, a promising young inventor. The young couple were living a charmed life. Benjamin was appointed Master in the Naval Service and placed in charge of the Naval Laboratory in the Washington, DC. During this time, he developed a cannon percussion primer. A dispute arose between Benjamin and the Navy, concerning compensation he was to receive for their use of his primer. This disagreement eventually led to his resignation in August 1847. Coston then accepted the position of…

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