Famous women in history
Many of history's world-changers have been women.
There are many famous women in history from politicians to authors. Their impact is varied - from writers to generals and from environmentalists to medical practitioners. Here is a short list of what they did and why they are famous.
The 'Angel of the Battlefield,' Clara Barton founded the International Red Cross in 1869. She founded the Red Cross in the United States and became its first president in 1881. She had been a nurse during the Civil war and had actively taken care of wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
Marie Curie was a two-time Noble Prize winner for Physics and Chemistry. She discovered Polonium and Radium with her husband Pierre, who also won a Nobel Prize in Physics. She became the first female to head a scientific laboratory at Sorbonne University in Paris in 1906. Actively investigating radioactivity, she contracted leukemia and died in 1934. An active, first class scientist, her contributions are among the very best.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I was the daughter of notorious Henry VIII. She nevertheless saw England rise in Europe in both power and influence. She sat on the throne from 1558 to 1603. Many artists lived in her time including William Shakespeare. Her influence over Europe assured that economically England would do well. Never married, she nevertheless had many suitors but she was married to England.
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was probably the greatest female general and is now a saint in the Catholic Church. This was not always so. She began to hear voices when she was very young at 12 or 13 years old. They were from St. Michael, the Archangel, who told her to lead an army to fight the British and win back France. When she was 17 years old in 1429, she raised and led a French army to Orleans and defeated the British.
Thereafter she won many other battles but was defeated in the battle of Paris. In 1430 she was captured by the British in a battle and was put on trial for heresy and sorcery. She was burned at the stake. The French many years later recognized her important legacy and she was canonized in 1920. There is even a national holiday in her name.
Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring" perhaps brought about the environmental movement. We owe our attitude towards the natural world around us from her writing about pesticides and their impact on environment. Her book appeared in 1962 and it forced the government and the chemical industry to take a second look at how chemicals were being used and deployed.
Margaret Sanger brought about Planned Parenthood. Without her dedication to the cause of controlling family growth (she was one of eleven children), the idea of contraception wouldn't be what it is today. The United States Supreme court as recently as 1965 allowed married couples to have birth control. But this change in law took almost 75 years in the making.
Starting in 1914 with the publication of "The Woman Rebel," this book was banned as obscene and caused her arrest. She was a social activist all of her life. She formed The American Birth Control League in 1921 and in 1939, she formed the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
At a time when conservative thinking only was starting to make an impact in the world the United States had Ronald Reagan and Great Britain had Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. From 1979 to 1990 she led England and the Conservative Party to change the direction of government and its control of key areas of the economy. Among her efforts were decreased role of the government in the economy, privatized housing, education and health care. She showed that a woman in power could be as tough as any man.
Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt She was a member of the Senate, elected in 1911, but left in 1917 to do volunteer work. Among the areas that she worked in were women's rights, racial minority's rights, working people's rights and human rights.
She was involved with the League of Women Voters, the commission on the Status of Women, Navy's Marine Corps Relief Society and the Red Cross. She showed that the First Lady could be more than a mantelpiece in the White House.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, "So you're the little lady that caused this big war." He was referring to "Uncle Tom's Cabin," an anti-slavery book by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Written in 1851, it sold over a million copies and was the bestselling book of the 19th century. It didn't start the Civil War of course but it was the most successful abolitionist book and was read in many foreign countries as well. Her anti-slavery views were the beginning of the human rights campaign that we see and understand now.
These are a few examples of famous women in history which show how rich their contributions have been to many world affairs.