Significant Women of the Past and Present

Women have been making their mark on history since the dawn of time. They have influenced everything from science to politics. Their achievements have ensured that modern women are now free to hold certain jobs, be seen dating in public without a chaperone, and even vote. These are some of the most well-known women in their fields.


Cleopatra VII, born in January of 69 BC, was Egypt’s female Pharaoh. She was the lover of Gaius Julius Caesar, ruler of Rome, and also of Mark Antony. She is commonly considered one of the most beautiful women in the world because of how she carried herself and she is still remembered today.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I of England, born on September 7, 1533, is the most famous English Queen to have ever lived. The final member of the Tudor dynasty, she became queen at age 25 and she defended her country against the Spanish Armada for years. The Elizabethan Age, one of England’s greatest ages, began with her reign.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams, born September 6, 1860, was one of the founders of Hull House, a place that provided programs for working-class families in Chicago as well as programs for young adults who had “aged out” of the foster care system. She was one of the first women to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820. She dedicated her life to fight for the rights of women to vote in the United States. Anthony organized countless women’s rights conventions and in 1869, she formed the Women’s Suffrage Association.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was an actress born on June 3, 1906. She was the first African-American woman to ever star in a major motion picture. She then went on to become an international star. She supported the American Civil Rights Union and even spoke at Martin Luther King Jr.’s side.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton, born on December 25, 1821, was a famous American nurse, humanitarian, and teacher. She was a nurse during the Civil War and the experience inspired her to organize the American Red Cross in 1863.

Martha Jane Cannary-Burke (Calamity Jane)

Calamity Jane, born on May 1, 1852, was a frontierswoman known for her friendship with Wild Bill Hickok. She was also known for her skill in battling Native Americans and her antics around the famous South Dakota town called Deadwood.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson, born on May 27, 1907, was a marine biologist and nature writer. She started the global environment movement which caused people to consider how to preserve natural resources.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, born on October 11, 1884, was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife and the First Lady of the United States during his terms. She was an avid supporter of civil rights movements and the United Nations. She founded the UN Association of the United States and co-founded the Freedom House,.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie, born on November 7, 1867, was a Polish physicist. She was the very first person to ever be awarded not one but two Nobel prizes. Her work was groundbreaking: she invented techniques for isolating isotopes, discovered radium and polonium, and invented the term radioactivity. She was also the first person to use radiation to try and treat cancer.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born on November 12, 1815, was an abolitionist and one of the world’s leading figures in the women’s rights movements. Her paper, Declaration of Sentiments, is credited with sparking off the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

Margaret Mead

Margaremt Mead, born on December 16, 1901, was an influential cultural anthropologist. She was famous for her work on other cultures and teaching Americans to appreciate foreign cultures.

Harriet Tubman

Harries Tubman, born in 1820, was a runaway slave from Maryland. She is famous for establishing the Underground Railroad, which allowed countless other slaves to escape to safety. She was called the “Moses of her people” because of it.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen, born on December 16, 1775, is one of the most famous female novelists of all time. Some of her books like Sense and Sensitivity and Pride and Prejudice are still read and studied today.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller, born on June 27, 1880, was a political activist and author. She was the very first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She helped Annie Sullivan develop a communication system for deaf-blind children who had no way to communicate previously.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, born on May 12, 1820, is considered one of the most influential nurses of all time. Known as “The Lady with The Lamp,” she began compiling reports about the treatment of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Using reports and her experiences, she began to tell her government that poor living conditions were killing more soldiers than the wounds themselves. Afterwards, she managed to reduce deaths by lobbying for sanitary hospitals.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to ever graduate from medical school and become an M.D. She was also a pioneer in the field of medicine, opening a school to help other women become doctors. Blackwell was also a woman’s rights activist.

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan, born on February 4, 1921, was an American author and women’s rights activist who founded the National Organization For Women in 1966. She also published the famous book The Feminine Mystique, which highlighted how many women at the time lacked true fulfillment but kept it hidden.

Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa, born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 29, 1910, is arguably the most famous nun in the world. She spent her life involved in humanitarian efforts, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and she was even beatified by Pope John Paul II, who gave her the title: Blessed Theresa of Calcutta.

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton, born on October 26, 1947, is currently the United State’s 67th Secretary of State. Married to former President Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States during his terms. She was briefly in the running to become a presidential nominee in the 2008 election.

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These are just a few of the world’s most influential women both past and present.

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