Isabella Goodwin : NYPD’s First Female Police Detective

Forgoing dreams of an opera career to become a famed law enforcement sleuth

Isabella Goodwin made history within the turn-of-the-century New York City Police Department, paving the way for female officers of the future.

As a girl, Isabella Goodwin wanted to be an opera singer. So how did this wannabe diva wind up working with the New York Police Department to nab a motley crew of bank robbers and, in the process, become the Big Apple’s first female police detective?

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A Legend of the Appalachian Trail She Helped Save: Emma Gatewood

Her first effort to conquer the Appalachian Trail was a failure that taught her lessons that brought her success as the first woman to ever accomplish the feat.

When, one hot day in July of 1954, Emma Gatewood told her grown kids she was “going for a walk,” she left out a few details. She expected the walk would take her from Maine to Georgia, cover 2,108.5 miles and go through 14 states.

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Virginia Hall – The One-Legged WWII Super Spy the Nazis Couldn’t Catch

Spy Virginia Hall and one of the war-ravaged French towns she worked in.
Although she was one of the World War II Allied Forces’ most important spies, the exploits of Virginia Hall remained unknown to the world until recently. She worked in battle-torn France for British forces and ultimately became a member of the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA.

Virginia Hall never spoke publicly about her remarkable life because she knew too many people who “were killed for talking too much.” So, until recently, her story was known only within the intelligence community, where documents were known to disappear and code names were so numerous it was hard to know who was who.

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Ágnes Keleti: Holocaust Survivor and Celebrated Olympic Gymnast

Ágnes Keleti, Olympic gymnast and holocaust survivor
As a 16-year-old rising star in the 1930s, Ágnes Keleti was Hungary’s National Gymnastics Champion. But her life changed dramatically as the Nazi regime enveloped Europe and gave rise to extermination camps. Though she lost her father and other family members to Auschwitz, she survived to achieve stunning international athletic success and relocate to Israel.

As a little girl born in Budapest, Ágnes Keleti dreamed of becoming a cellist. Instead, she saw her father deported to Auschwitz, escaped the Nazis using forged identity papers and, ten years later, became one of the greatest Olympian gymnasts of all time and the most successful Jewish female athlete in the history of the Games.

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Contrary Mary: The Only Female Congressional Medal of Honor Winner

Civil War physician Mary Walker wearing her Congressional Medal of Honor.
The second female medical doctor to be licensed in America, Civil War Union Army veteran Mary Walker is also the only woman to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919) is described as contrary, outspoken, feisty, radical, defiant and determined. But as the first woman to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, the second woman in America to become a licensed medical doctor, a lifelong women’s rights activist, prohibitionist, and a dress reformer who steadfastly refused to accept the stodgy Victorian confines of her gender, I suspect she earned — and needed — every single one of those attributes.

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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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