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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The city of Tallahassee has a vast and rich history of accomplishments that span almost 200 years. The first Christmas in the Americas was celebrated here, and the first high school in Florida was founded here. On top of that, the capitol of Florida, which has decided the course of history, is located here. There are thousands of archives on Florida Memory dedicated to Tallahassee. Women make up roughly 52.8 percent of the population in Tallahassee, Florida, according to the United States Census. Yet, it was incredibly difficult to find resources about women’s history in Tallahassee despite their great accomplishments.

Juana Caterina de Florencia

Mission San Luis was a local Spanish mission that settled in the Apalachee Tribe’s area in the 1600s. Juana Caterina de Florencia was known for her intimidating presence in the Mission San Luis in the Apalachee community. She married Captain Jacinto Roque Peres, an Apalachee province deputy governor appointed by Spain. Her marriage gave her a higher social status which allowed her to become a role model. Her responsibilities were to instill Spanish values and culture in the community. Juana was known to interact with both the Apalachee people and Spanish soldiers on a daily occurrence which led to her reputation for being stern. She had no patience for mistakes or her servants. It is reported she once struck the Apalachee chief for bringing her meat on a Friday (a grievance in the Catholic Church). Despite her authority, it is also mentioned that she made efforts to support Apalachee orphans financially and physically.

Caroline Brevard

The Tallahassee Female Academy was founded in 1843 for wealthy women in the area and only extended until late middle school. But Caroline Brevard was a pioneer for women. She left the area to pursue higher education and graduated from Columbia University. Upon her return to Tallahassee, she published A History of Florida (1904) which became one of the most respected history textbooks in Florida. It was used in school curriculums for nearly thirty years. In 1915, she became an educator. She taught at Florida State College for Women as a professor for nearly 15 years. Also during her time as a professor, she served as the Vice President of the State of Florida’s Organization for Women’s Suffrage.  In 1924, an elementary school was named after her. In 1923, the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Tallahassee also chose to name themselves after her.

Reinette Long Hunt

Reinette Long Hunt is best known for owning The Grove, a prominent real estate plantation for nearly three decades. Impressively, she ran the estate as a divorced woman, something unheard of at this time. She left her abusive husband in 1911 only five years after the legalization of divorce in Florida. In 1908, she started the first Tallahassee Country Club and created a few golf holes on the property. In the 1920s and 1930s, she converted the home into a hotel. She helped form the local tourism sector. During the Great Depression, she took the money earned from the budding tourism economy and funneled it into the production and sale of crops. She was known for investing in tomato sauce.

Luella Knott

Luella Knott was a force to be reckoned with. She was a graduate of Greensboro Methodist College in 1891, an unusual accomplishment for women of the time. She married William Knott, who eventually became Florida’s first state financial agent. Knott was known for her active social life. She became heavily involved in movements like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. She was famously known for her published music, poetry and other writings. She was devoted to her family, which is evident in her lyrics (often penned into the furniture at her home)! Her involvement with the publishing industry and public policy created a precedent for women in the area in the 1930s.

Sarah Lundrum Cawthon

Tallahassee locals and Florida State University (FSU) students may be familiar with Cawthon Hall. This residence hall is named after the Dean of the College Home for the Florida State College of Women. Her responsibilities would have included looking after all of the female students while they lived on campus. She is also credited with helping found the Student Government Association expanding the American Association of University Women. Today, FSU students are still directly benefiting from her contributions to the university. Her name is often associated with ghost stories nowadays, but she is much more than a spooky tale.

Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson

On May 26, 1956, Tallahassee was met with a bus boycott. Similar to Montgomery, the boycott began with young Black women sitting in the “whites-only” designated seats of a segregated bus. When Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson, two FAMU students, refused to move, they were arrested and sparked a movement. The women were harassed, stalked and threatened. A cross was burned in their front yards. The Black community, spearheaded by Revered C.K. Steele and the NAACP, rallied behind Jakes and Patterson by planning a logistical city-wide bus boycott. This boycott had immediate effects on Tallahassee’s revenue. These two women helped inspire real sustainable change in the Tallahassee community.

Here’s to the women that changed Tallahassee forever.

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Ariana White is a Tallahassee native and first-generation college student majoring in Editing, Writing and Media with a minor in Museum Studies and Public Administration at The Florida State University. She is passionate about food justice, women’s rights, arts & culture, and local politics. Ariana has been a staff writer for Her Campus at FSU since January 2021. She has written 20+ articles during her time as a staff writer and leads the column on food sustainability.