Emilia Casanova de Villaverde: Firebrand of The Cuban Revolution

Caves Beneath Her Bronx Mansion Were Packed With Guns and Explosives

US forces landing in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 with headshot of Emilia Casanova de Villaverde
Internationally famed for devoting her fortune and entire adult life to a crusade to overthrow the colonial Spanish rulers of Cuba, Emilia Casanova de Villaverde died 17 months before U.S. forces invaded and conquered the island in 1898, severing its ties to Spain. Here, U.S. troops go ashore at Daiquiri, Cuba.

The future Emilia Casanova de Villaverde was a willful, headstrong teenager and never one to hold her tongue. She lacked the “coquettish manners believed to be natural in young women.” But what she had was a fire in her belly for Cuban independence in the late 19th century when Cuba was still governed by Spain. So much so that at a convivial banquet attended by Spanish authorities, she rose to lift her glass in a very public toast “to the freedom of the world and the independence of Cuba.” Talk about knowing how to clear a room.

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Aloha Wanderwell: Transcontinental Adventurer

Brains, Beauty and Breeches: The Amelia Earhart of the Open Road

1920s photo of Aloha Wanderwell with her customized Model T Ford
Aloha Wanderwell with her Model T modified with a gun scabbard and sloping back that folded out, accordian-style, into a traveling darkroom. While still in her teens in the 1920s, the Canadian schoolgirl jumped into a career as a transcontinental race car driver, adventurer and daredevil gifted with with movie star looks and a shrewd sense of promotion.

In an age when few women dared to color outside the lines, an irrepressible convent schoolgirl — tall and leggy, with big blue eyes, blonde Shirley Temple curls and a pet monkey, drove Model Ts around the world, landed a seaplane on an uncharted stretch of the Amazon River, and filmed travelogues that captivated armchair travelers the world over.

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Doris Fleeson First Syndicated Female Political Columnist

From WWI War Zones to 5 Presidential Administrations, She Covered It All

World War II meeting of soldiers and U.S. journalist in the field
Aside from breaking through barriers in sexist newsrooms, Doris Fleeson went on to become a feminist champion helping other women — particularly those of color — get into the news business in an era of rampant male chauvinism.

For two decades, Washington reporter Doris Fleeson took no prisoners as she stalked the halls of Congress in her white gloves and designer hats, exposing ignorance, fraud and hypocrisy wherever she found it. One of the best and most-respected reporters of her day, she struck fear in the hearts of Congressmen, press secretaries and presidents of both parties, one of whom, John F. Kennedy, quailed at the prospect of being “Fleesonized” by her sharp prose and what Newsweek called “the sharp edge of her typewriter.”

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Isabelle Kelley – The Economist Who Fed America

A Little Known Advocate Who Ran Federal Programs Feeding Hundred of Millions

Isabelle Kelley was particularly moved by widespread hunger among African Americans in the U.S.
Through presidential administrations from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, Isabelle Kelley was the architect of the federal government’s sweeping food assistance and nutrition programs addressing widespread hunger in America.

You probably don’t know her name. But one female economist has been feeding America for decades. From the “Penny Milk Program” of the 1940s to today’s Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), Isabelle Kelley made it her mission to see that the poorest of Americans did not go to bed hungry.

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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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Ynés Mexía, Late-Blooming Mexican-American Botanist

Pioneer in the Fight to Preserve Northern California’s Majestic Redwood Forests

A section of California Red Woods and botanist Ynés Mexía
Aside from her pioneering work to save the California Redwoods, Ynés Mexía traveled North and South America amassing a collection of plant specimens still used by scientists today.

One of the most successful botanists and female plant collectors of her time, Ynés Mexía didn’t begin her career until age 55. Assertive, brave, and not afraid to knock the stereotypes of racism, sexism and ageism on their heads, she was remarkable not just for the number of specimens she collected, but for the number of miles she traveled to collect them.

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