I love Antiques Roadshow. The history, stories, and surprised owners always make me smile. A few weeks ago, I was watching an old episode before bed, and a young man had a collection of items related to Bessie Raiche, who is credited as the first woman to fly an airplane solo — an airplane, I should add, which she built in her yard. Raiche was also a dentist, a physician, a businesswoman, an athlete and an artist. Sadly, I had never heard of her! So, I looked her up. That search led me to other women I should have heard of but haven’t, and thus, this list was born. Obviously, it is in no way an exhaustive list, but it’s my hope that it will encourage you to seek out other amazing women. Let’s learn their names and stories. Let’s honor the amazing contributions women have made and continue to make. And let’s celebrate Women’s History Month by finding those women, past and present, who don’t always make it onto the ‘famous women’ lists.
“Alone Atop the Hill: The Autobiography of Alice Dunnigan, Pioneer of the National Black Press” by Alice Allison Dunnigan
Alice Dunnigan was the first credentialed White House correspondent, and the first African-American female member of the House and Senate press galleries. She was a recipient of over 50 journalism awards, a noted civil rights activist, and was known to ask the hard questions about race, gender and rights.
As Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins was the first female member of the cabinet. She fought for child labor laws, shorter work weeks, unemployment, and so much more of the social programs we associate with the New Deal era.
“Every Day is a Gift” by Tammy Duckworth
Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Army Veteran, serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a one of a handful of women helicopter pilots. After recovering from losing both of her legs to a RPG, Duckworth turned her considerable nous toward the legislature. She has served two terms as a Representative and is currently serving in her second term as a Senator.
“Lee Miller: A Woman’s War” by Hilary Roberts
Elizabeth “Lee” Miller started her career as a fashion photographer, but when WWII broke, she turned her efforts toward photojournalism. Her photographs capture the social consequences of the war and the women serving as pilots, mechanics, nurses, and more.
“What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in An American City” by Mona Hanna-Attisha
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is the award-winning pediatrician who exposed the Flint, MI water crisis. Her work as a public health advocate continues to improve the lives of children in Flint and across the country.
Astronomer Jill Cornell Tarter is a co-founder of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program and a pioneer in space study. As the only woman in the engineering program at Cornell, Tarter has faced skeptics, misogyny and derision.
Looking for more? Here’s some additional works featuring awesome women.
- “Unbought and Unbossed” by Shirley Chisholm
- “Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA” by Brenda Maddox
- “Proud: My Fight for An Unlikely American Dream” by Ibtihaj Muhammad
- “Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical” by Sherie M. Randolph
- “Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age” by Kurt Beyer
- “The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here” by Hope Jahren
- “Hearts of Our People” by Native Women Artists