Margaret Bourke-White, Trailblazing American Photojournalist

Margaret Bourke-White in the 1930s
As she became one of the 20th century’s most famous photographers, Margaret Bourke-White broke down barriers that previously limited photojournalist opportunities for U.S. females. Above are images of her photo on the cover of the first edition of LIFE magazine in 1936, and a shot of her in her aviation gear at the start of World War II.

Margaret Bourke-White, who entered college in the 1920s with the idea of becoming a Herpetologist,  could have made a name for herself handling snakes. Instead, she picked up a camera and went on to become a groundbreaking female photojournalist, giving us some of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

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Good Reads in Wild Places: The WPA’s Pack Horse Librarians

WPA-era pack-horse librarian urges horse up rocky slope
Funded by the WPA during the Great Depression, horse-pack librarians took books and magazines to people living in remote Appalachian mountain settlements often reachable only by foot paths.

Determined to increase literacy and boost morale in the backwoods of Depression era Appalachia, hundreds of Pack Horse Librarians, with saddlebags jammed full of books, headed out for some of county’s most impoverished and isolated communities.

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Rosalie Edge: Champion of Women’s Suffrage and Environmental Activism

Rosalie Edge at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Rosalie Edge was one of the most active and effective conservationists of the 20th century, with a particular interest in protecting wild birds from mass killings by agricultural and industrial interests.

If visitors to New York’s Woodlawn Cemetery in the Spring of 2018 felt the ground shift a little beneath their feet, it was probably just Mabel Rosalie Barrow Edge — once known as America’s most militant conservationist — rolling in her grave.

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Lillian Wald — Mother of Public Health Nursing

A high society girl who abandoned her upper crust life to become a nurse in the 1880s, Lillian Wald and her corps of public health nurses changed the world of health care in the teeming immigrant slums of New York’s Lower East Side and established a new mode of nursing focused on the poor that spread across the country.

We hear a lot about privilege these days. And this Wednesday’s Woman, Lillian Wald, would be the first to tell you she was born into privilege — the daughter of wealthy German-Polish parents whose families fled Europe seeking economic opportunity. She once described herself as a well-educated, frivolous, spoiled socialite. But two pivotal events shaped this frivolous, spoiled socialite into a humanitarian and visionary who dedicated her life to helping others.

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Bessie Blount Griffin: Inventor, Crime Fighter, Hospital Wonder Woman

Above is Bessie Virginia Blount Griffin’s patent for an invention that enabled paralyzed or limbless veterans of World War II to feed themselves.

That Bessie Blount Griffin became a inventor, physical therapist, business women, forensics expert and social activist before she passed on in 2009 is all the more remarkable, given that she was born in an era before women — particularly African American women — could expect opportunities in any one of the multiple fields in which she ultimately succeeded. Her life is a lesson in tenacity, irrepressible creativity and a deep sense of empathy for the people and causes she helped.

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Elizabeth Coleman White: Blueberry Queen of the Jersey Pines

Elizabeth Coleman White picking blueberries in 1920.
In the second decade of the 20th century, New Jersey Pinelands farmer Elizabeth Coleman White was the first to cultivate the blueberry on a commercial scale. Today, the U.S. industry she launched annually harvests 690 million pounds of berries from across half a million planted acres.

Hammonton, New Jersey, is the Blueberry Capital of the Garden State. Once upon a time, sixteen-year-old Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway was crowned Blueberry Pageant Princess. And we all know Fats Domino found his thrill on Blueberry Hill. But were it not for Elizabeth Coleman White, none of that would have happened.

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