8 Women from History You've Never Heard Of

History was always a favorite subject of mine. Most people view it as boring, but there were definitely a few people who stand out. However, most of my history classes were filled with lessons on men and their heroics. Here are eight significant women from history you have (probably!) never heard of before. 

 

1. Hypatia of Alexandria 

Image Courtesy of TheHistoryChicks

Hypatia was an astronomer, philosopher, and mathematician who lived in Egypt when it was part of the Roman Empire.She taught philosophy and astronomy at a school in Alexandria and served as an advisor to a Roman prefect there. Though none of her texts or writings have survived, her overall impact on Alexandria's society has been well-recorded. 

 

2. Lydia Pinkham 

Lydia was a wife and mother in the late 1800s who started her own herbal line of period tonics. She began her business by brewing it for her neighbors and friends and eventually marketed the product directly to women. Lydia's herbal supplements are still available for purchase today, and she's seen as an early advocate for educating women on their own bodies. 

 

3. Lady Jane Grey 

She was Queen of England for approximately nine days. While the story of this short-lived monarch is a bit long, it can be summed up that Jane, King Henry VIII's great-granddaughter, was passed the crown by King Edward I. Mary, Queen of Scots was gaining support to be crowned as the next ruler. When it was decided Mary had a bigger following, Jane was dethroned and held in the Tower of London. She was eventually ruled a threat to Mary's title and was executed in 1554. 

 

4. Queen Lili'uokalani 

Speaking of queen, Lili'uokalani was the Kingdom of Hawaii's first queen and last monarch, ruling from 1891 to 1893.Lili'uokalani aimed to bring voting rights back to those disenfranchised in the kingdom. However, the kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown and Lili'uokalani lived privately under her death 24 years later. 

 

5. Patricia Suzanne Cowings 

Image Courtesy of NASA

Cowings worked as a psychopysiologist for NASA. She helped develop methods of training that reduced the effects space and motion sickness have on the astronauts. Her research findings have ben in use for over 30 years. She has also held positions at UCLA. 

 

6. Natalie Clifford Barney 

Barney was an American poet and author who lived in Paris during the early 1900s. She held a weekly literary circle at her Paris home, supporting other female writers as well as a few of the male writers of the time. Barney was very open about her sexuality as a gay woman, writing love letters to her partners under her real name and serving as the inspiration behind numerous characters in books written during the time. 

 

7. Roberta Cowell 

Image Courtesy of The Telegraph

Roberta Cowell was the first English transgender woman to undergo a successful sex reassignment surgery. She was a pilot during World War II, studied engineering in London, and was a successful Grand Prix race car driver in the years following the war. Her reassignment surgery was completed during the 1950s. While the later years of her life were lived privately, two biographies were published during the twentieth century about her. 

 

8. Ida B. Wells 

Wells was a investigative journalist, political activist, and suffragist in the late nineteeth century. Her most famous cause was the condemnation of lynching. She was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. 

 

The eight names listed above are a tiny, tiny fraction of the thousands of outstanding women who have lived and made an impact. I hope you found their stories interesting and here's to making your own! 

 

 

Bebhinn Nagle is a pre-junior at Drexel University, where she is majoring in Nursing. Along with this role of writer for HerCampus Drexel, she is also the recruitment chair for the school's student nurses' association.

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