Esther Hobart Morris

First Woman Justice of the Peace in America Wyoming can claim many firsts for women: the right to vote, the first woman governor, and the first woman judge in American history, Esther Hobart Morris. At the time of her appointment as Justice of the Peace, Morris was 59 years old. Although widely celebrated as a hero of the early suffragist movement, she spent the first 55 years of her life living quietly in New York state and Illinois. Early Years Esther Hobart was born August 6, 1814 in Tioga County, New York. Orphaned as a young girl, she served as an apprentice to a seamstress and ran a millinery business out of her grandparents’ home. She was a successful businesswoman…

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Hannah Myers Longshore

Pioneer Physician and Professor of Anatomy Hannah Myers Longshore graduated from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania’s first class in 1851 and became Philadelphia’s first woman doctor with a medical degree to establish a private practice, which she continued for forty years. She also lectured extensively first at the Female Medical College, and later in public speeches about sexual health at a time when there was little public discussion of any kind on the subject. Early Years Hannah Myers was born May 30, 1819 in Sandy Spring, Maryland, where her father taught at a Quaker school. She was the daughter of Samuel and Paulina Myers, Quakers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania who believed in equal education for boys and girls. While…

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Mary Treat

Pioneer Scientist and Author Mary Treat was a naturalist from New Jersey and a major contributor to many scientific developments of the nineteenth century. She is most well known for her extensive work in botany and entomology. Four species of plants and insects were named after her. She also corresponded with Charles Darwin. Treat was a pioneer in several areas of natural sciences. Image: Mary Treat in 1904 Mary Lua Adelia Davis was born September 7, 1830 in Trumansburg, New York. Her parents were Isaac Davis, a Methodist minister, and Eliza (English) Davis and she had one sister, Nellie. In 1839 her family moved to Ohio where she attended public school and, for a short while, a private girls’ academy.

Lydia Leister Farm

Farm on the Gettysburg Battlefield Gettysburg farmer James Leister died in 1859, leaving his wife Lydia Leister and five children, ranging in age from 21 to 3. In March 1861, the widow Leister purchased a nine acre farm on Taneytown Road from Henry Bishop, Sr. for the sum of $900. The property included a modest, wood frame house with a single fireplace, two rooms and a stairway that lead to a small loft. Image: Restored Lydia Leister Farm today Looking north along Taneytown Road After the strong Confederate win at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 CSA General Robert E. Lee effectively argued that the best use of limited Confederate resources was to invade Pennsylvania. In early June he…

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First Women Magazine Editors

Early Women Magazine Editors: Few and Far Between Ladies’ Magazine (1827-1836) was the first American magazine edited by a woman: Sarah Josepha Hale. In 1837 it merged with Lady’s Book and Magazine to become Godey’s Lady’s Book. Hale moved from Boston to Philadelphia to edit the new magazine. She did not regret the move. Image: 1849 Cover of Godey’s Lady’s Book Sarah Josepha Hale, Editor For the most part, women’s magazines of the nineteenth century focused on concerns seen as appropriate to woman’s sphere. Advertisers found the traditional home-centered woman to be an excellent customer for their clothing, cosmetics and household products; therefore, they preferred to patronize publications that would not lead women to question their place in society.

Ellen Swallow Richards

Pioneer Chemist and First Woman to Graduate from MIT The most prominent American woman chemist of the 19th century, Ellen Swallow Richards (1842–1911) was a pioneer in sanitary engineering and the founder of home economics in the United States. She was the first woman admitted to any scientific school in the United States and the first female graduate of MIT. During her career, she also helped her break new ground for women in science. Early Years Born December 3, 1842 at Dunstable, Massachusetts, Ellen Henrietta Swallow was the only child of well-educated parents and received most of her early education from them. In 1859 the family moved one town over to Westford, Massachusetts, where her father opened a store. Ellen…

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First Women Nurses

History of American Women Nurses Nurses in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) The Revolutionary War shifted the role of some women from housewives to caregivers on the battlefront. Soon after the Continental Army was created in 1775 to fight in the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was made aware that the wounded and sick required good female nurses, as the wounded soldiers were suffering greatly. Image: Following the Army by Pamela Patrick White Many women camp followers were hired to serve as nurses in the Continental Army Backstory Throughout history most healthcare took place in the home by family, friends and neighbors with knowledge of healing practices. In the United States, family-centered sick care remained traditional until the nineteenth century. Sick…

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Ada Kepley

First American Woman to Graduate from Law School Ada Kepley was the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school (1870). When she applied for a license, she was told that Illinois law did not permit women to practice law. By the time the law was overturned, Kepley had diverted her energies to the support of social reforms, particularly the temperance movement. Ada Harriet Miser was born February 11, 1847 to Henry and Ann Miser in Somerset, Ohio, where she spent most of her childhood. Her parents were . In 1860 her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where Ada completed two years of high school. The Misers then moved to Effingham, Illinois, a pioneer settlement, where…

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Marie Zakrzewska

Founder of the New England Hospital for Women and Children In 1862, Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, an American physician of Polish descent, made a name for herself as a pioneer female doctor. She founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children, the first hospital in Boston – and the second in the United States – to be run by women doctors and surgeons. Early Years Marie Zakrzewska (pronounced Zak-SHEV-ska) was born September 6, 1829 in Berlin, Germany, the eldest of six children to Ludwig Martin Zakrzewski and Caroline Fredericke Wilhelmina Urban. Her father was from a noble Polish family who had lost their wealth and property to the Russians, so he worked as a civil servant. Her grandmother was a…

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Bethenia Owens-Adair

Pioneer Woman Doctor in Oregon Bethenia Angelina Owens-Adair (1840 – September 11, 1926) was a social reformer and one of the first female physicians in Oregon Country with an MD (Doctor of Medicine). She was also a divorcee and a single mother, who overcame many hardships to fulfill her dream. Some Oregon women, such as Mary Anna Cooke Thompson, called themselves doctor, but they had not attended medical school or earned medical degrees. Owens-Adair and Mary Priscilla Avery Sawtelle earned their medical degrees and established early practices in Oregon. Early Years Bethenia Angelina Owens was born on February 7, 1840, in Van Buren County, Missouri, the third of eleven children born to Tom and Sarah Damron Owens. As a daughter…

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