A Pioneering 19th-Century Paleontologist Who Changed Science
In the opening decades of the 19th century, Mary Anning, a country bumpkin who lived in a town overlooking the English Channel, made some of the earliest landmark discoveries in the emerging new science of paleontology. Yet male scientists often ended up taking all the credit.
Blazed a trail for future female news photographers
Jessie Tarbox Beals might have spent her life as a teacher, doing “genteel, sheltered, monotonous and moneyless work having neither heights nor depths.” Instead, thanks to a little box camera, a knack for self promotion and pure moxie, she became one of America’s first women to carve out a career in the tough, competitive, male-dominated field of photojournalism.
Saboteur, Resistance Fighter, and POW in the Pacific Theater
If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it’s that unsung heroes are all around us — people doing great things or committing acts of bravery or self-sacrifice quietly, without celebration or recognition, sacrificing their time and energy for the good of others. So it’s understandable that neither a small community in Ithaca, NY, nor people working at Cornell University knew they had been, for years, in the presence of a true, unsung, World War II hometown hero, Florence Finch.
If you saw the 1986 movie Top Gun, you’ll remember the tag line: “I feel the need … the need for speed.” But 81 years before Maverick and Goose uttered those words, Dorothy Levitt, self-styled “motoriste,” became the first English woman to compete in automobile racing, setting the Ladies World Land speed record and earning the nickname The Fastest Girl on Earth, driving an 80-horsepower Napier at the lightning speed of 79.75 miles an hour.
A Cryptographic Sleuth Who Took Down Mobsters, Spies, and Nazis
Most people can’t name anyone whose career took them from searching for hidden messages in Shakespeare’s works to Nazi code busting to foiling Prohibition rum runners and sending mobsters to the slam. But that’s exactly how Elizebeth Smith Friedman liked it. She was perfectly happy working in the shadows as a complete unknown.
Pioneering the Path of Females in U.S. Aviation History
In August of 1911, 36-year-old Harriet Quimby became America’s first licensed female pilot. Dubbed “America’s First Lady of the Air,” she couldn’t know she had less than a year to revel in her title before falling from the sky to her death.