The Valkyrie of the Piano: Teresa Carreño

Teresa Carreño is different stages of her life.
Beginning before she was a teenager, Venezuela-born classical musical prodigy Teresa Carreño sold out major music halls in the U.S. In an age that was intolerant of female composers, she went on to become one of the world’s most celebrated.

Music gave us The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, The Duke and, of course, The Boss. But long before Elvis swiveled his pelvis, Ellington tickled the ivories and Springsteen picked up the guitar, the music world was captivated by The Valkyrie of the Piano.

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The Woman Behind Granny Smith Apples: Maria Ann Smith

Her Legacy is the Third Most Popular Apple in America

Maria Ann Smith, a.k.a. Granny Smith with apples
In the mid-19th century, British emigrant to Australia Maria Ann Sherwood Smith was operating a family farm when she discovered a very crisp, very tasty green apple that she cultivated and began selling in the local market. Her product became known as the “Granny Smith” apple and went on to become one of the world’s most popular fruits.

Saying something is “as American as apple pie” might work if we’re talking baseball, blue jeans or rock ‘n’ roll. But the story behind one of America’s favorite pies — and one of our most beloved baking apples — isn’t American at all. It began almost 10,000 miles away, in a compost heap near a kitchen just outside Sydney, Australia, with an orchardist named Maria Ann Sherwood Smith. Today we know her as Granny Smith.

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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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Mary Anning – Britain’s Forgotten Fossil Hunter

A Pioneering 19th-Century Paleontologist Who Changed Science

Mary Anning and the Jurrassic Coast fossil cliffs of Lyme Regis, England
Now known as the Jurassic Coast, the massive cliffs that break off into the English Channel at Lyme Regis in England expose rock formations that go back more than 185 million years. In the early 1800s, Mary Anning made major discoveries here.

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.

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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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