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Women Pioneers in History

Updated on February 24, 2013

Women in History

Women have had a major impact in history.
Women have had a major impact in history. | Source

Women in History

History tells us about famous women pioneers. Many women have made important firsts in history and major contributions that have paved the way for new discoveries, and new opportunities. This is just a few of the brave, the innovative, and the determined women who made their marks in history.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to graduate medical school in the United States. in 1864, she earned an M.D. degree from the New England Female Medical College, which later became part of Boston University.

She worked as a nurse for eight years, in Charlestown Massachusets before going to medical school. She published a book detailing medical advice for women and children in 1883, called Medical Discourses. in 1865, after the Civil War ended, she moved to Richmond Virginia. There she joined other black doctors who gave medical treatment to freed slaves, who would not have had access to medical treatment.

She was truly a remarkable woman who not only achieved a medical degree at a time when very few African American, let alone women were admitted to medical school. She was born in 1831.

There seems to be no photos of Rebecca Lee Crumpler and little is known about her, except for her published writing. She returned to Boston several years later and opened a practice to help women and children. From her experiences she wrote the two volume book to serve as a reference about providing medical care for women and children. She worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others.

Jane Goodall and Chimpanzees

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall | Source

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall made her name as a British anthropologist. She knew from the time she was seven years old that she wanted to go to Africa, after she read Doctor Doolittle and Tarzan. She devoured all the information she could about animals and about Africa.

When Jane was 22 years old, her friend invited her to their farm in Kenya. It was 1957. After she was in Africa for a few weeks she learned that Louis Leakey, a famous paleontologist and archaeologist,was searching for evidence of primitive man in Kenya and she wanted to meet him. Leakey was impressed with Goodall’s knowledge and hired her. He later gave her a group of wild chimpanzees to study in Tanzania. Leakey wanted to learn how chimpanzees could help us understand the evolution of human beings.

It wasn’t easy at first to study the chimps, but she found a place to observe them from a distance and she made many exciting discoveries, including seeing chimps make their own tools. Leakey arranged for Jane who had no college degree to enroll in Cambridge University to earn an eventual doctorate. Her observations over the years were published in National Geographic.

Marie Curie Made Amazing Discoveries

Marie and Pierre Curie
Marie and Pierre Curie | Source

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person in science to win the Nobel Prize two times. Marie and her husband Pierre did much of their work in the study of radioactivity. She is the first women to make such significant scientific contributions.

In 1903 she and Pierre won the Nobel Prize for Physics that they shared with another scientist. Pierre was killed by a horse and cart accidentally in 1906, and with two young children to raise, she continued to pursue the scientific research they had been doing together, which led to a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911.

She developed mobile x-ray units for use on the battlefield in World War I. She went on the front lines with her oldest daughter, using these machines to help to help save the lives of wounded soldiers. After the war, she continued her research and continued to receive various awards, prizes and honorary degrees for her valuable contribution to science.

Her oldest daughter, Irene and her husband also won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. Marie never got to see her daughter receive this prize, as she died from leukemia in 1934, due to her exposure to radiation. But her work lived on in her daughter and granddaughter, Helen, who entered the field of nuclear physics.

In 1995, the French President Mitterand reburied Marie and Pierre Curie in the Paris mausoleum, the Pantheon, a most revered place. She is the first woman to be entombed there because of her own achievements.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale changed sanitary conditions and saved many soldiers lives.
Florence Nightingale changed sanitary conditions and saved many soldiers lives. | Source

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing. As a young girl, she was active in helping the sick and the poor in neighboring towns to her wealthy estate she grew up in. Her well to do parents did not want her to become a nurse, but she knew by 16 years old, that nursing was her calling, as if it was her divine purpose.

She enrolled as a nursing student in a German institution to learn about medicine. During the Crimean War, in 1854, she brought 38 nurses to Turkey to help the British soldiers who were wounded and in makeshift hospitals that had poor medical conditions. Here she saw conditions that were dirty and overcrowded, with not enough beds, and the sick laying on unwashed floors. Toilets and drains were blocked up, vermin ran rampant, and there was a terrible smell. The patients were fed bread that was moldy and terrible tasting meat.

Florence knew the hospital had to be sanitized and the men needed proper nutrition to heal. Many succumbed to diseases from the environment they were in. She set out to save the injured by getting clean bandages, clean water, clean bedding, and healthier food for them to eat. As she cleaned up the terrible conditions, and made sure the men were as comfortable as they could be, more soldiers began to heal. She sat with the dying soldiers, helped the injured write letters home and walked the halls with a lantern, earning the name from the soldiers, “The Lady with the Lamp”.

For all her work she became a heroine in Britain, after the war. Queen Victoria wrote her a thank you letter, and later she met the Queen. The Sultan of Turkey sent her a diamond bracelet, but Florence remained humble about her work.

After the war Florence Nightingale’s dedicated herself to reforming medical care for peacetime army soldiers. She wanted to get hospitals cleaner, improve the medical care they received, and to make the more sanitary so that the conditions for healing became more optimal.

Florence Nightingale became integral in transforming nursing into a true profession that would forever raise the standards of public health, far beyond the land of Britain, and far ahead of her lifetime.

The care we all receive today is in large part thanks to the health care reform, Florence Nightingale set out to do long ago.

The Nightingale Training School for Nurses in London, opened in 1860. Although she lived to be 90 years old, the last 40 years she became sick from all of her hard work. In 1907, at the age of 87, she was the first woman to become the recipient of the Order of Merit award.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was a courageous women who accomplished many things women had not done before.
Amelia Earhart was a courageous women who accomplished many things women had not done before. | Source

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart will go down in history as the first woman to fly an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart won celebrity status when she became `the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1928. Within the same year, three women before her, had perished attempting this same feat.

Her adventure earned her many awards, accolades, and a ticker tape parade down Broadway in New York City, and a presidential reception, by Calvin Coolidge at the White House. After watching a stunt flying exhibition, Amelia Earhart became interested in flying. In December, 1920, she flew with a pilot that inspired a passion within her to soar towards the clouds. She took her first flying lesson, January 3, 1921.

So determined was Earhart that within six months she saved enough money to buy her own plane. It was a used two seater yellow biplane. This plane, nicknamed Canary, by Earhart, helped her set the first of many records she would set. In this plane, she became the first woman to fly reach an altitude of 14,000 feet. She faced financial and prejudicial obstacles, but nothing stopped her. In 1932, she wanted to show men and women could accomplish equal feats, so she set out to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, solo, like Lindbergh did five years earlier.

Her successful flight made her the first woman and the second person in history to achieve this. In 1935, she became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, and the first to fly from Mexico to New Jersey. In 1937, she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Out of the 29,000 mile trip, and with 7,000 miles to go, Earhart and her copilot, Frederick J. Noonan, disappeared. One of the most extensive sea and air search in history began, but no trace of the plane or famous occupants could be found.

Amelia Earhart’s story tells of the courage and bold vision she continued to pursue during her lifetime. Her final quote in a letter she wrote to her husband says much about this amazing woman. "I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others."

Women in History

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Women in History and Their Lasting Legacy

These women and so many others, have made important contributions to mankind. They have forever changed, and improved society.

Their destiny led to them to achieve these accomplishments.
Their legacy lives on in their efforts, in their foresight, and in the way they transformed the times they lived in.

Through their vision and determination, we have inherited a better world.
A great tribute and debt is owed to those who have dedicated their lives to benefit future generations.

Read More in History

In addition to famous women in history, you can read a multi part series about dogs in history and the history of people and things:

read about ancient dogs in history part 1 by clicking here

pawprints in history part 2 historic dogs

pawprints in history part 3 George Washington and his dogs

pawprints in history part 4 Abraham Lincoln and presidential dogs

Benjamin Franklin, our first environmentalist

history of m&m's history of totem poles

history of bathing history of the Republican GOP Party

history of mirror, history of sneakers, history of knitting


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