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Famous Women in History

Video of Women's Rights in the 1920's

It has been argued, notably by proponents of feminism, that the achievements of women were insufficiently represented in works of history up through the twentieth century. Thus, efforts in women's studies and in history generally have been made recently to draw attention to women whose achievements were notable enough for them to be considered historically significant figures.

Short Video of Women's Rights History in the 20th Century

Women rulers, consorts, heads of state

  • Hatshepsut of Egypt (Egypt)
  • Arsinoe II of Egypt (Egypt)
  • Cleopatra VII of Egypt (Egypt)
  • Boudicca (England)
  • Zenobia (Palmyra)
  • Theodora, Empress of Byzantium
  • Melisende (Jerusalem)
  • Isabella of Spain
  • Eleonora di Arborea (Sardinia)
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (France)
  • Margaret I of Denmark and Norway
  • Catherine de Medici (France)
  • Mary I of England (England) - (Bloody Mary)
  • Mary, Queen of Scots (Scotland)
  • Anne of Austria (France)
  • Maria Theresa of Austria (Austria)
  • Anna I of Russia (Anna I) (Russia)
  • Catherine I of Russia (Russia)
  • Catherine II of Russia (Russia) - (Catherine the Great)
  • Elizabeth of Russia (Russia)
  • Christina of Sweden
  • Elizabeth I of England
  • Queen Anne
  • Mary II (Great Britain)
  • Victoria I of the United Kingdom (England)
  • Anne Neville (England))
  • Catherine of Valois (England)
  • Diana, Princess of Wales (United Kingdom)
  • Elizabeth Woodville (England)
  • Margaret of Anjou (England)
  • Mary of Teck (United Kingdom)

Politicians, political figures

  • Indira Gandhi
  • Petra Kelly (Germany)
  • Constance Markiewicz (nee Gore-Booth) (1868-1927) (Ireland)
  • Golda Meir
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • Janet Reno
  • Mary Robinson (Ireland)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (United States)
  • Margaret Thatcher

Activists and revolutionaries

  • Indira Gandhi
  • Millicent Fawcett
  • Lucretia Mott
  • Emmeline Pankhurst
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Emma Goldman
  • Rosa Luxemburg
  • Toncka Cec, Slovene national heroine

Scientists and mathematicians

  • Hypatia of Alexandria (mathematician)
  • Emilie du Chatelet - studied with Voltaire
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie (Nobel prize)
  • Irene Joliot-Curie (physicist)
  • Lise Meitner (physicist)
  • Sophie Germain (mathematician)
  • Ada Byron, Countess Lovelace
  • Dorothy Hodgkin (chemist)
  • Grace Hopper
  • Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya - (1850-1891), Russian mathematician
  • Emmy Noether (mathematician)
  • Margaret Mead (anthropologist)
  • Rosalind Franklin (DNA)

Medical notables

  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (physician)
  • Clara Barton (nurse, activist)
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (physician)
  • Florence Nightingale (nurse)
  • Jennie Kidd Trout first licenced woman physician in Canada in 1875.
  • Mary Edwards Walker (physician)

Religious figures

  • The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus
  • Esther
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Hildegard of Bingen (writer, philosopher)
  • Julian of Norwich (writer)
  • Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Outlaws and pirates

  • Cheng I Sao
  • Grace O'Malley (a.k.a. Grainne Ni Mhaille) (1868-1927) (Ireland)
  • Phoolan Devi (the Bandit Queen)

Soldiers, agents, spies

  • Joan of Arc (military leader)
  • Edith Cavell (World War I heroine)
  • Mata Hari (spy)
  • Violette Szabo
  • Harriet Tubman (Moses; rebel, spy, activist)

Artists, writers, poets, musicians

  • Maria Callas (musician)
  • Sappho (poet)
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Ouida (writer; a.k.a. Marie Louise de la Ramee)
  • Marie de France (troubador)
  • Christine de Pizan (writer)
  • Phillis Wheatley (poet)
  • Veronica Franco (poet)
  • Ninon de lEnclos
  • Sarah Bernhardt (actress)
  • Jane Austen (writer)
  • Emma Abbott
  • Grazia Deledda (writer, Nobel prize)
  • Mary Cassatt (painter)
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Billie Holiday (musician)
  • Zora Neale Hurston (writer)
  • Murasaki Shikibu (writer)
  • Karen Blixen (writer)
  • George Eliot (writer)
  • Toni Morrison (writer, Nobel prize)
  • Gertrude Stein (writer)
  • Sappho

Famous actors

  • Lucille Ball
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Sarah Bernhardt
  • Bette Davis
  • Judy Dench
  • Jodie Foster
  • Greta Garbo
  • Ava Gardner
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • Helen Hunt
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Sophia Loren
  • Marylin Monroe
  • Mary Pickford
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Meryl Streep


  • Steffi Graf
  • Billie Jean King
  • Jeannie Longo
  • Martina Navratilova
  • Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias
  • Reneé Richards, M.D


  • Gladys Aylward {missionary}
  • Bessie Coleman (aviator)
  • Amelia Earhart (aviator)
  • Kathleen Kenyon (archaeologist)
  • Julia Morgan (architect)
  • Coco Chanel (fashion designer)
  • Emily Warren Roebling (engineer)

A Video about the English Suffragettes


To learn more about famous women in history -
Use these online Internet resources
  • Featured website: Women's History by
  • Internet Women's History Sourcebook   - This sourcebook attempts to present online documents and secondary discussions which reflect the various ways of looking at the history of women within broadly defined historical periods and areas. Includes ancient, medieval and modern.
  • WWWomen: Women Throughout History   - WWWomen aspires to be the most inclusive, up-to-date search site for women's topics.

  • Archives of Women in Science and Engineering - Documents the history of women in these fields, individually and collectively, with excellent links to related sites.

    Stories of the 2nd wave of the Women's Rights Movement

  • Astronaut Jerrie Cobb - Jerrie Cobb was one of the Mercury 13, our first female astronauts, who never flew in space.
  • Berkshire Conference on the History of Women - Formed in response to women academics' sense of professional isolation in the early decades of the 20th century. The Berkshire group invites all women professionally engaged in history, pursuing graduate study in history, or dedicated to historical inquiry to participate in their activities.
  • Brave women of Oceania - Dedicated to women of the South Pacific area who have served history. Women at war and serving peace in Oceania have remained largely undocumented. This page sets out to redress the balance and links to their history and their works.
  • American Women's History: A Research Guide - Over 2100 citations to Internet and print sources (digital collections of primary sources, archival collections, bibliographies.
  • dMarie Time Capsule - A women's time capsule.
  • The Dutch Association for Women's History - The study of the history of women and gender. The VVG contains information, activities, links, articles and events.
  • Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Biography of Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten, with family history, rememberences
  • The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project Online - Describes the project's work and the documentary editing process. Contains biographies, bibliographies, and a timeline of ECS and SBA's life and work, as well as quotations and poetry about them.
  • Elizabeth I - Quotes and writing by QE and a biography and articles by more recent writers.
  • The Emancipationof Women: 1750-1920 - bounty of information on British suffragists and their organizations, including biographies with portraits, databases of primary sources, and bibliography
  • Emma Goldman PapersProject - An early advocate of free speech, women's equality and independence, birth control, and union organization.
  • Female Explorers - Articles, book reviews and research guides about Female Explorers - adventurous women who've dared to explore their world.
  • Female Firebrands and Reformers - Website featuring women who have made an impact on society.
  • Femme's Musings - This page started out as a tribute to Queen Boudica and grew from there.
  • Forest Women Links - Links to pages about historical, athletic, or mystical women.
  • Friends of Women's Rights National Park - Women's history from First Woman's Rights Convention; includes suffrage movment, right to vote, modern feminism. Describes the Friends' programs.
  • GenderGap - Information about women in government including state government, politics, political races, the military and women throughout military history.
  • Gráinne Ní Mháille - The pirate queen of Connaught, a woman who stood against England and Queen Elizabeth.

    Film clip of Helen Keller

  • Helen Keller - Biography and Links - From Has links, history, and recommended reading.
  • Helen Keller -- The Story of My Life - Complete autobiography in plain text or E-Book format.
  • HerGeneration - From then until now. See how women have evolved through time.
  • Herstory of Women's Health Movement and Self-Help - Self cervical exam revolutionized activists working for legal abortion in the 1960's and early 1970's.
  • History of European Women - Scholarly and non-scholarly articles, book reviews, bibliographies, historiography and annoted links about European women's history.
  • House of Rhetoric - Biographies of famous courtesans who became rhetoricians. From Aspasia of Miletus to present day women in communication.
  • H-Women Discussion Network - A lively discussion list for scholars and anyone interested in women's history. You can do a keyword search of the archives, and get subscription information at their web site.
  • 100 Important Women in History - Brief biographies and pictures. Created as a Girl Scout Gold Award Project. "A site featuring pictures and information about women from different time periods in history and from different races and nationalities as well."
  • Women Pioneers & Trailblazers - Women have added to human knowledge and skill in every field, from the arts and humanities to aviation, sports, science, and government. Biographies of some of the prominent women who broke new ground in women's endeavors in selected areas are listed.
  • LadiesMemoryCircle - A mailing list for women who enjoy the study of history and who would like to share their findings and resources with one another.
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives - Home to the world's largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities.
  • Lesley Hall's Web Page - History of gender and sexuality, feminist science fiction and fantasy, women and medicine, British feminist radical Stella Browne, and a women's history walk round Bloomsbury (UK).
  • MakingIt Their Own: Women in the West - Women in the American West: biographies, examples of primary texts (diaries, literary works), secondary texts (critical essays, historical studies), resources (biographies, bibliographies, teaching materials), images, and teaching and study materials.
  • Margaret Sanger Papers Project - Biographical information about the papers of the Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) founder of the American birth control movement, and the papers documenting her life and work. Also includes information about the Sanger Project's publication of these papers in microfilm, book and electronic editions.
  • Matilda Joslyn Gage - Gage was a 19th century feminist theorist and activist, author, historian of women, abolitionist, and lecturer. Site includes information on her life and times, speeches, excerpts from her writings, biographies of her contemporaries.
  • Melisende's Women of History - Biographies of some of the fascinating women who have graced the pages of history.
  • The Miracle Worker - Information and resources for the study of The Miracle Worker and Helen Keller.
  • Multimedia Exhibits in Women's History - Multicultural links to Women's History.
  • Notable Women Ancestors - A growing database containing biographies and genealogy data of famous and not-so-famous women submitted by actual living descendants.
  • Notable Women with Liberal Religious Connections - Documents the liberal religious connections of many famous (mostly US and a few Canadian and British) women
  • Oral History Online - Suffragists Oral History Project - Seven major figures in twentieth-century suffragist history are represented here with full-length oral histories.
  • Quilt History - The home of the Quilt Heritage mailing list, this page discusses all aspects of antique quilts and textiles and their makers.
  • Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) Archive - An examination of the life of this saint, scanned images of her letters and other original manuscripts, quotations, and other items of interest.
  • Sophia Smith Collection of Smith College - Large collection of manuscript, print, and audio-visual material that documents the historical experience of women, primarily in the United States. Includes collection lists, lesson plans, and subject guides on individual women and special topics.
  • Swarthmore College Peace Collection - A research archives devoted to collecting, preserving, and making accessible, materials on non-governmental women,s efforts towards peace.
  • ViVa Database - The ViVa database contains bibliographic records describing more than 5500 articles published between 1975 and 2000 in 116 historical and women's studies journals.
  • What DidYou Do In The War, Grandma? - 27 oral histories of Rhode Island women during World War II, written by high school honors students.
  • National Women’s History Museum - founded in 1996, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women, and integrating this rich heritage fully into our nation's history. Until legislation passes in Congress designating a permanent museum in Washington, D.C., the NWHM promotes women's history through its temporary exhibits, special events, Cyber Museum, and online educational materials.
  • Inventor Augusta Ada Lovelace Biography - Fascinating facts about Ada Lovelace programmer of an early computer, the Analytical Engine in 1843.
  • Woman Suffrage History - Explore the history of women's suffrage with interactive maps and quizzes.
  • Women's History - Comprehensive Women's History Research Guide - Women's history research and information treasure trove - notable women, women's history themes and subjects, quotations by famous women.
  • National Women's Hall of Fame - Dedicated to honoring women who have contributed significantly to the development of the country. Includes an extensive collection of biographical profiles.
  • Women of Theatre - Provide yous with basic information about women of theatre throughout the world prior to 1900. It is primarily focused on dramatic performances, what is sometimes referred to as “legitimate theatre,” and is not meant as a comprehensive analysis of operas, ballets, and other divertissements. Though some opera singers and an operatic performance or two may be included, the focus for that performer will be on her dramatic work.
  • Women In World History Curriculum - Interactive site full of information and resources about women's experiences in world history. For teachers, teenagers, parents, and history buffs.
  • Women Nobel Laureates - In 1903, only two years after the Nobel Foundation was established, the first Nobel Prize was awarded to a woman, Marie Curie. Women have been winning Nobel Prizes ever since. Bertha von Suttner was influential in convincing Alfred Nobel to set aside a Prize for peace.
  • Women's Biographies - Distinguished women of past and present.
  • Women's Biography Sites - Access 170 women biography collection sites.
  • Women's Guerilla History Project - Posters from the grassroots public art project promoting women's history & visibility. We are a group of women & girls who wish to see a more visible & public presence of women's diverse history and accomplishments.
  • Famous and Fascinating Women in History - Learn all about the many famous and fascinating women in history.
  • Women's History: Articles and Links - Articles on women's history, plus annotated links to some of the best resources on the Net on the subject, in more than 30 categories. From
  • Encyclopedia of Women's History - Women's History: • Site index • Biographies of notable women • Women's History Encyclopedia ... Women's History Guide.
  • Women's History Month - Learn the history of Women's History Month at The History Channel
  • Women In World History Curriculum - Interactive site full of information and resources about women's experiences in world history. For teachers, teenagers, parents, and history buffs.
  • Women's International Center - Biographies of great women. Histories of women through art. Women in America. Living Legacy Awards.
  • Women Watch - UN Internet Gateway on the Advancement and Empowerment of Women
  • The Women's Legal History Project - Detailed biographies of over 100 early women lawyers and judges.
  • The First Women's Rights Convention - Seneca Falls - The Women's Rights Movement may have begun at Seneca Falls conference, that set the stage to gain women the right to vote, and thus acquire other freedoms.
  • Women's Rights Info Center Library - This site contains numerous resources discussing women’s rights, issues, and history, as well as information on contacting the Women’s Rights Information Center in Englewood, NJ.
  • Women's Stories - Fascinating facts, little-known anecdotes, and provocative quotations about the week's famous and infamous women, all in a quick-read format with links to additional resources. New features every week!
  • Womynlynks - Links to sites lauding the lives and accomplishments of notable women in the fields of music, literature, television, activism, painting, and the performance arts.
  • World Wide Web Virtual Library: Women's History - Listing women's history institutions and organizations, locating archival and library collections, and providing links to Internet resources for women's history is the main purpose of this Virtual Library.
  • History of Women at the Olympics - Notable female athletes, women's events, women champions, sports for women.

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