Barbara Hillary: Blazing a Trail to the Top (and Bottom) of the World

A 75-year-old cancer survivor’s Incredible journey


A retired nurse who survived two bouts of cancer, Barbara Hillary was the first African-American women to reach the North Pole, among other trekking adventures.

In terms of sheer persistence, Barbara Hillary’s is quite a story. Determined to do what no other woman like her had done before, Hillary became the first African-American woman to reach the North Pole. Even more noteworthy, she did it at the age of 75.

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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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Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Rock & Roll’s First Guitar Heroine

Rosetta Tharpe on stage in a church
In the 1940s, Rosetta Tharpe brought to the stage a completely new kind of music and performing style that was later imitated by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presely and the pantheon of rock stars up until today’s. But she got little credit for her history-making work.

When Sister Rosetta Tharpe picked up her electric guitar in the 1940s and lit into “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” she didn’t know she was creating a musical style that would become an international sensation. But today, this audience-taunting, duck-walking, howling, stomping, gospel-singing black woman is known as the Mother of Rock and Roll.

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Why is a Crater on the Moon and an Asteroid Named for Maria Mitchell?

Maria Mitchell and female astronomers from Vassar
America’s most prominent female scientists in the second half of the 19th century, Vassar Professor Maria Mitchell is shown here in the 1880s with students from her astronomy class.

She is the only champion of women’s rights in the last two centuries to have both a crater on the moon and an asteroid named in her honor. Maria Mitchell was a star of 19th century American science who used astronomy to expand the boundaries of what women could expect and achieve. Her life and work are a root of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) movement that today draws ever larger numbers of young women to scientific careers. But, ironically, Mitchell is not well know to most of them.

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Diane Crump: Horse-Crazy Girl Who Revolutionized Thoroughbred Racing

Historic horse race in 1969 that changed the rules.
Riding Bridle ‘N Bit in the 7th race at Hialeah Park on February 7, 1969, Diane Crump (center) smashed through the barriers that kept women from participating in the sport of thoroughbred racing.

Until the 1960s, gender discrimination was a proud fact of life in the male-only world of thoroughbred horse racing in the United States. Females could not be licensed as jockeys. But a gutsy, 5-foot tall, 104 pound slip of a woman named Diane Crump changed all that at Florida’s Hialeah Park in 1969.

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