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7 Inspiring Women in History

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, which honors the past and present achievements of women all around the world. In honor of the day, we’re highlighting some remarkable and inspiring women in Geni’s World Family Tree. We also had some fun with MyHeritage’s newest feature, Deep Nostalgia™, to help bring the images of these historic icons to life.

1. Clara Barton

Clara Barton was a pioneering nurse and founder of the American Red Cross. A battlefield nurse during the American Civil War, Barton became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her tireless work with the sick and wounded. She often risked her life to bring supplies and aid to soldiers in the field. At the end of the war, she ran the Office of Missing Soldiers to identify and locate soldiers that were killed or missing in action. Thanks to Barton’s efforts, the office was able to locate over 22,000 missing soldiers.

2. Marie Curie

A pioneer physicist, Marie Curie’s research into radioactivity was groundbreaking. In 1903, she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her work. Then in 1911, she received a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry, making her the first person to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize twice in different fields.

3. Irène Joliot-Curie

Irène Joliot-Curie, daughter of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, followed in her Nobel Prize-winning parents’ footsteps into the scientific field. In 1935, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of artificial radioactivity.

4. Bessie Coleman

Aviator Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and the first Native American to hold a pilot license. Born into a family of sharecroppers, Coleman worked the fields at a young age. Unable to learn to fly in the United States because of her race and gender, Coleman traveled to France to earn her pilot license. After returning to the United States, Coleman became known for performing flying tricks and earned the nicknames “Brave Bessie” and “Queen Bess.” She toured the country giving flight lessons and performing in air shows. She also used her voice to encourage other African American women to learn how to fly and had hopes to start her own flying school. Sadly, Coleman would not have the chance to fulfill that dream. She died on April 30, 1926 at the age of 34 in a tragic accident plane crash.

5. Elizabeth Blackwell

Social reformer and pioneer educator Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Born in Bristol, England, Blackwell moved to the United States as a young girl. Her family placed a strong emphasis on education. Although Blackwell faced many obstacles and discrimination while pursuing an education in medicine, she succeed in becoming the first woman to graduate from medical school in 1849. A pioneer in the medical field, Blackwell founded a medical school for women in the late 1860s and paved the way for future female physicians.

6. Nellie Bly

A pioneer of her field, journalist Nellie Bly helped launch a new kind of investigative journalism. As a reporter for the New York World, Bly wrote an explosive exposé on the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island in New York City’s East River. Bly went undercover as a patient to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the asylum. Her report was published in the book Ten Days in a Mad-House and launched a grand jury investigation. As a result of her publication, the asylum implemented reforms and significant changes were made to New York City’s Department of Public Charities and Corrections.

7. Frida Kahlo

Artist Frida Kahlo is often regarded as one of Mexico’s most celebrated and iconic artists in history. After an injury left her unable to walk for months, Kahlo looked to painting to pass the time and discovered a passion for it. Throughout her life, she painted at least 143 paintings, nearly a third of which were self-portraits. She often used vibrant colors and combined elements of religion and Mexican traditions in her work.


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