History’s Deadliest Female Sniper: Ukraine’s Lyudmila Pavlichenko

World War II Hero Credited with 309 Nazi Kills

World War II Ukranian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko with rifle
Enrolled in Kyiv University as a history student when the Nazis invaded in 1941, 25-year-old Ukrainian rifle sportswoman Lyudmila Pavlichenko joined the military and went on to gain international fame as a World War II sniper. Today’s female Ukrainian warriors follow in her footsteps.

Of all the fierce Ukrainian warriors who have grabbed the world’s attention as they battle the current Russian invasion, one of the most unusual (and deliberately unsung) is a female Ukrainian Marine sniper known to the outside world only as “Charcoal.”

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Socialite, Arctic Explorer, Wartime Secret Agent: Louise Boyd

Turning Fabulous Wealth and Arduous Journeys into New Scientific Knowledge

1931 photo of the head of the Franz Josef Fiord, a Russian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean
Born into fabulous San Francisco wealth in 1887, Louise Arner Boyd spent it all during a long career of organizing her own scientific expeditions to some of the planet’s most remote and foreboding frozen regions. She left behind troves of documentation that remain relevant in today’s struggle against climate change.

Louise Boyd wasn’t born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Hers was made of gold. Her grandfather made a fortune in the California Gold Rush of 1848; her father was a mining magnate with a stake in a gold mine, and president of San Francisco’s Boyd Investment Company. Her mother was a New York socialite.

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Isabella Lucy Bird’s 19th-Century Journey to Travel-Writing Fame

Mountain Climber, Cattle Driver, Caravan Organizer, Photographer and Acclaimed Book Author Isabella Lucy Bird

Isabella Lucy Bird climbed Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the world's largest active volcano.
Climbing Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, and riding stallions through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco were just two of Isabella Lucy Bird’s many 19th-century travel writing adventures around the world.

In 1972, a bespectacled, shaggy-haired singer-songwriter named John Denver celebrated his love affair with Colorado in a song called “Rocky Mountain High.” But more than a century earlier, an intrepid Englishwoman named Isabella Lucy Bird beat him to it. Her book, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, was published in 1879 as a letter to her sister in England. It detailed her adventures in Colorado, became an international bestseller, and put the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park on the map.

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Zitkála-Sá: A 20th-Century Champion of Native American Activism

Her Opera “The Sun Dance” Made Stage History

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School became infamous as a place designed to
Born on a South Dakota Sioux Reservation, the young Gertrude Simmons was pulled between the Indian culture into which she was born and the Euro-American culture that educated her. At 19, she seized on her tribal roots and went on to become one of the most influential Native American activists of the 20th century.

Zitkála-Sá (pronounced Zitkála Shá), also known as Gertrude Evaline Simmons, was born in 1876, year of the Battle of Little Bighorn, on South Dakota’s Yankton Sioux Reservation. Her mother was a full-blooded Dakota Sioux named Ellen Tatiyahewin (“She Reaches for the Wind”) Simmons, her father a white man about whom little is known. We do know he abandoned the family, leaving her mother to raise their children in traditional Sioux ways.

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Triumph Against All Odds: Black Artist Elizabeth Catlett

A Highly Acclaimed 20th Century Sculptor and Printmaker

Artist Elizabeth Catlett and slavery print.
Inspired by the stories of her formerly-enslaved grandmothers, artist Elizabeth Catlett built an internationally acclaimed career around her artworks capturing the experiences of Black women.

Elizabeth Catlett never knew her father, a Tuskegee Institute math professor who died before she was born, but a small wooden bird sculpture he left behind gave wing to the artistic interests that would ultimately define her career. Born near Washington, D.C., in 1915, grandchild of formerly-enslaved people, her life’s work would give poignant voice to the dignity, pride, strength, and hard-won victories of Black women in a society dominated by white men.

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Ida Holdgreve: Wright Brothers’ Plane Seamstress

Played a major role in earliest era of powered human flight

Seamstress Ida Holdgreve at work in the Wright Brothers’ Ohio factory in 1911. Her work was crucial in the earliest era of powered human flight when airplanes were made of wood, wire and fabric, including the DH-4, which was the only American-built plane to fly in combat in World War I.

Had computers and Spell Check! existed in 1910, we might never know the name Ida Holdgreve. Lucky for her, a simple typo in a local newspaper ad led to her finding a place in history as the first woman to work in the American aviation industry.

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