Below is a list of American women whose work as artists, scientists, journalists, business owners, educators, and activists was notably influenced by their travels abroad from the late 1800s through about WWII. Some before and slightly after this timeframe are also included, just for fun. The list currently stands at 101 names. Know of someone I don’t? Tell me all about her!
P.S. I’m still working on photos and a layout that isn’t atrocious in terms of loading time. Thanks for bearing with me!
Birth: July 4, 1857; Frankfort, Illinois
Death: March 31, 1951; Pomona, California
Occupation: Activist, author, public lecturer
Notable journeys: Began her first “world tour” in 1889 as a missionary for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Became the president of the Union’s Australia chapter in 1891. Believed to have circumnavigated the world eight times and claimed to have slept in 2,700 beds.
Notable work: The World Through A Woman’s Eyes; Australia From a Woman’s Point of View
Quote: “We are always longing to be something we are not; reaching for things just beyond our grasp; trying to climb to heights we can never attain.”
Harriet Chalmers Adams
Birth: October 22, 1875; Stockton, California
Death: July 17, 1937; Nice, France
Occupation: Adventurer, magazine writer, photographer, public lecturer, co-founder and first president of the Society of Woman Geographers
Notable journeys: Began a three-year journey in South America in 1904, which included stops in every country and a crossing through the Andes on horseback. Went to Haiti alone in 1910.Was the only female war reporter to cover the French trenches in 1916. Traveled to Sumatra, Siberia, Libya and the Middle East in 1929, and Egypt and Ethiopia in 1930. Claimed to have visited every American Indian tribe in the United States and several in South America.
Notable work: More than 20 articles for National Geographic; photo series for Harper’s
Quote: “I’ve wondered why men have so absolutely monopolized the field of exploration. Why did women never go to the Arctic, try for one pole or the other, or invade Africa, Thibet, or unknown wildernesses? I’ve never found my sex a hinderment; never faced a difficulty which a woman, as well as a man, could not surmount; never felt a fear of danger; never lacked courage to protect myself. I’ve been in tight places and have seen harrowing things.”
Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz
Birth: December 5, 1822; Boston, Massachusetts
Death: June 27, 1907; Arlington, Massachusetts
Occupation: Author, explorer, co-founder and president of Radcliffe College
Notable journeys: Served as the primary record keeper for the Thayer Expedition to Brazil (April 1865–August 1866) and the Hassler Expedition through the Strait of Magellan (December 1871–August 1872). Toured European women’s colleges around 1900.
Notable work: A Journey in Brazil; Louis Agassiz: His Life and Correspondence
Quote: “I must confess the creature who greeted my waking sight this morning was not a pleasant object to contemplate. It was an enormous centipede close by my side, nearly a foot in length, whose innumberable legs looked just ready for a start, and whose two horns or feelers were protrubed with a most venomous expression.”
Delia “Mickie” Denning Akeley
Birth: December 22, 1869; Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (lied about her age, meaning birth year is often incorrectly listed as 1875)
Death: May 22, 1970; Daytona Beach, Florida
Occupation: Explorer, author, museum curator, public lecturer
Notable journeys: From 1906-1907, accompanied her husband, a noted taxidermist, to Africa to kill elephants for display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. From 1909-1911, joined Theodore Roosevelt’s Smithsonian expedition team. In 1924, returned to Africa solo to live among forest pygmy tribes and to explore the desert region between Kenya and Ethiopia on behalf of the Brooklyn Museum.
Notable work: Jungle Portraits; JT JR: the biography of an African monkey
Quote: “In these days of high speed, skyscrapers, subways, and sublimations, we have lost of the art of seeing simply. We look at men and women as individuals, as romances, or sociological cases. We no longer look at them as manifestations of Nature, like trees twisted by the wind, or leopards with hides mottled in conformity with jungle shade.”
Louisa May Alcott
Birth: November 29, 1832; Germantown, Pennsylvania
Death: March 6, 1888; Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Teacher, seamstress, governess, maid, bestselling author
Notable journeys: Went to Europe in 1865, where she struck up a romance with a Polish man named Ladislas “Laddie” Wisniewski. Laddie became the model for Laurie, a primary love interest for Jo March in Little Women.
Notable works: The Little Women series; Shawl Straps, a mock travel diary based on Alcott’s travels abroad
Quote: “Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Susan B. Anthony
Birth: February 15, 1820; Adams, Massachusetts
Death: March 13, 1906; Rochester, New York
Occupation: Women’s rights activist
Notable journeys: In 1883, spent nine months in Europe to form an international women’s organization called the International Council of Women, now associated with the United Nations. Was also instrumental in the founding of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and presided over its first meeting in Berlin in 1902.
Notable work: History of Woman Suffrage (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4); The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Quote: “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”
Birth: July 7, 1819; Jefferson, Ohio
Death: September 14, 1882; Benicia, California
Occupation: Rural schoolteacher in western New York; school administrator in Ohio; founded Benicia Academy, now Mills College
Notable journeys: Described as “perpetually restless,” Atkins sailed for Shanghai on November 10, 1863, and spent 115 days abroad, with stops in Hawaii, Japan, Yedo Bay, Yokohama. Spent another year in England in the late 1860s to study school systems there before moving around the United States in various education jobs until her death.
Notable work: The Diary of Mary Atkins: A sabbatical in the Eighteen Sixties
Quote: “In the evening I played euchre for the first time in years. At eight the mate came in hurriedly, ‘There’s a light over the lee bow.’ The Captain hastened on deck with a light, for we have no signal lights. The vessel was not twice the ship’s lengths. By putting down helm and tacking ship, we escaped collision.”
Lucy Seaman Bainbridge
Birth: January 18, 1842; Cleveland, Ohio
Death: November 19, 1928; New York City
Occupation: Civil War nurse (nicknamed “Sister Ohio”), public lecturer, mission administrator, travel writer for The Providence Daily Journal, author of four books
Notable journeys: Left Providence, Rhode Island, on New Year’s Day 1879 to begin her first of two trips around the world with her husband. The first trip lasted two years and included stops in Japan, China, Burma, India, Egypt, “The Holy Land,” Germany, Paris, and England.
Notable work: Jewels from the Orient; Round the World Letters
Quote: “There is nothing like travel to teach one to appreciate the right of opinion in others and bring one to realize what a mote he really is in the vast shifting sands of the humanity of our great world.”
Charlotte Alice Baker
Birth: April 11, 1833; Springfield, Massachusetts
Death: 1909; Cambridge, Massachusetts?
Occupation: Historian, teacher, writer, antiquarian
Notable journeys: In 1882, went the Azore Islands (Portugal), which were not often visited by Americans. In the 1890s, traveled to Montreal, Quebec, small Canadian villages and Indian missions to track down several missing captives from the French and Indian Wars.
Notable work: True Stories of New England Captives Carried to Canada During the Old French and Indian Wars; A Summer in the Azores with a glimpse at Madeira
Quote: “As often as I have read in the annals of the early settlers of New England the pathetic words, ‘Carried captive to Canada whence they come not back,’ I have longed to know the fate of the captives. The wish has become a purpose, and I have taken upon myself a mission to open the door for their return.”
Josephine Baker (Freda Josephine McDonald)
Birth: June 3, 1906; St. Louis, Missouri
Death: April 12, 1975; Paris, France
Occupation: Singer, dancer, actor , French spy during WWII, Civil Rights activist
Notable journeys: Sailed for Paris the first time at age 19 on October 2, 1925, where she performed erotic dances, including her infamous “Banana Dance.” During WWII, traveled to Morocco, Spain, and Egypt and used her dance company as a cover for gathering intelligence for the French Resistance. Refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and was active in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, though she remained based in France.
Notable work: Countless stage performances; several movie appearances, including Zouzou, in which she was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. FBI files on her surveillance activities.
Quote: “The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains.”
Nellie Sims Beckman
Birth/Death: ?; buried in Sacramento, California
Occupation: Writer, political wife
Notably journeys: Starting in 1900, spent eighteen months traveling extensively in Europe and the Middle East with an unnamed friend to celebrate the turn of the century. It’s possible Beckman traveled abroad once before this trip.
Notable work: Backsheesh: A Woman’s Wandering; Memory’s Potlatches
Quote: “Surely it is worth something to have wandered in lands where the world’s greatest have lived and left their traces. The sound, ripe fruit of contentment is mine–for traveling has ever been more than anything else–a passion so great that it seems to me life beyond the grave will not be full or complete unless it be that Eternity means wandering from one fair world to another.”
Lorenza Stevens Berbineau
Birth: around 1806; Maine
Death: 1869; Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Domestic servant
Notably journeys: From mid July to early December 1851, accompanied her employer’s family (Francis Cabot Lowell II) on a grand tour of Europe. Visited Nova Scotia, England, Paris, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Belgium. At the time of her trip, was around 45 years old.
Notable work: From Beacon Hill to the Crystal Palace: A Working Class Woman’s View of Europe
Shirley Temple Black
Birth: April 23, 1928; Santa Monica, California
Death: February 10, 2014; Woodside, California
Occupation: Child actor, diplomat, U.S. ambassador
Notable journeys: Was in Prague during the Soviet invasion in 1968 and witnessed civilians killed in the street, one of several experiences that motivated her to pursue a formal diplomatic career. Appointed U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and later named ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, making her the first female American to hold that post.
Notable work: Influential in several pro-democracy initiatives.
Quote: “The greatest challenge in the political arena is to maintain a sense of humor. Diplomacy is the art of persuasion.”
Mary Elizabeth McGrath Blake
(An illustration by Fernand Lungren from Blake’s The Merry Months All. Probably not a drawing of Blake.)
Born: September 1, 1840; Dungarvan, Ireland
Died: February 26, 1907; Boston, Massachusetts
Notable journeys: Blake immigrated to the United States as a child, and she returned to Europe five times. Also traveled extensively across the western United States and in Mexico with her friend, Mary F. Sullivan. Advocated strongly for American travelers to “get off the beaten path.”
Notable work: On The Wing; Mexico: Picturesque, Political, Progressive; A Summer Holiday in Europe
Quote: “To the real traveller, one can only say God speed. For him the radiant world waits; and at every turn some new sense of delight comes to make life splendid. Day by day he becomes conscious of heights and depths in his being which were unknown before, until he seems to be for the first time becoming acquainted with himself.”
Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman)
Birth: May 5, 1864; Cochrans Mills, Pennsylvania
Death: January 27, 1922; New York City
Occupation: Investigative journalist, travel writer
Notable journeys: In the mid 1880s, spent six months as a reporter in Mexico, which inspired her interest in international travel. In 1889, raced Elizabeth Bisland to set a record for circumnavigating the world in 1889 and beat Bisland to New York by four days (journey included stops in England, France, Italy, Egypt, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan).
Notable work: Around the World in Seventy-Two Days; Six Months in Mexico
Quote: “One wintry night I bade my few journalistic friends adieu, and, accompanied by my mother, started on my way to Mexico. Only a few months previous I had become a newspaper woman. I was too impatient to work along at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers, so I conceived the idea of going away as a correspondent.
Birth: January 4, 1899; Conneaut, Ohio
Death: October 16, 1980; Scottsdale, Arizona
Occupation: Ethnomusicologist, filmmaker
Notable journeys: In 1929, recorded folk songs in communities across Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika. Later expeditions expanded to Mozambique, Myasaland, Rhodesia, Transvaal, Cape Province, Sierra leone, Liberia, Angola, Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Dahomey, the French Equatorial Africa, British Cameroon, Belgian Congo, Ethiopia, and Ghana. In 1941, commissioned to produce a film about Canada’s First Nations, called “The Peoples of Canada.” Later collected music from American Indian tribes across the American Southwest, American Northwest Coast, and Mexico.
Notable work: The Music Hunter; large collection of recordings, some of which are available for preview and purchase through the Smithsonian; several films about Canadian folk communities and traditions.
Quote: “It was Africa that provided for me the first exciting proof of what I had always believed to be true: that music the most spontaneous and demonstrative form of expression [of the human race].”
Birth: June 14, 1904; The Bronx, New York
Death: August 27, 1971; Stamford, Connecticut
Occupation: Writer, photographer, war correspondent
Notable journeys: Already an established national photographer, she traveled to Europe in 1941 to document life under Nazism in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Was the only foreign photographer in Moscow when German forces invaded. In 1946, covered India and Pakistan and took iconic photos of Gandhi shortly before his death.
Notable work: Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly; Portrait of Myself; large collection of photos
Quote: “People seem to take it for granted that a woman chooses between marriage and a career as though she were the stone statue on the county courthouse, weighing one against the other in the balance of her hand. I am sure this is seldom so. Certainly in my own case there was no such deliberate choice. Had it not been for a red-gold ring that broke into two pieces, I would never have been a professional photographer.”
Louise Arner Boyd
Birth: September 16, 1887; San Rafael, California
Death: September 14, 1972; San Francisco, California
Occupation: Arctic explorer, author
Notable journeys: In 1924, visited Norway’s polar ice pack and was inspired by the Arctic. In 1926, chartered a ship and sailed north, earning the media nickname “Arctic Diana.” In 1928, attempted to rescue missing explorer Roald Amundsen and received several awards for her journey. In the 1930s, led a series of scientific expeditions along the east and north coasts of Greenland. Contributed to secret missions by the U.S. Army during WWII. In 1955, became the first woman to fly over the North Pole.
Notable work: The Fiord Regions of East Greenland; Polish Countrysides; The Coast of Northeast Greenland, with hydrographic studies in the Greenland Sea
Quote: “Far north, hidden behind grim barriers of pack ice, are lands that hold one spellbound. Gigantic imaginary gates, with hinges set in the horizon, seem to guard these lands. Slowly the gates swing open, and one enters another world where men are insignificant amid the awesome immensity of lonely mountains, fiords, and glaciers. Five times have the gates opened for me. May they do so many times again!”
Helen Dore Boylston
Birth: April 4, 1895; Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Death: September 30, 1984; Trumbull, Connecticut
Occupation: U.S. Army nurse (rank: captain), author, magazine writer
Notable journeys: Served as a front-line anesthesiologist in France during WWI and a post-war nurse in Albania, Poland, Russia, Italy, and Germany. Returned to Albania in 1926 to become a writer and lived in Tirana for two years.
Notable work: Sister: The War Diary of a Nurse; Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford; Sue Barton: Nurse series
Quote: “But I’m young! I’m young! Why shouldn’t I live? What is old age to me if it has no memories–except of forty years or so of blank days? … Kitty and I sail on the New Amsterdam tomorrow for Paris! The world is mine!!”
Sarah Breedlove (also known as Madame C.J. Walker)
Birth: December 23, 1867; near Delta, Louisiana
Death: May 25, 1919; Irvington-on-Hudson, New York
Occupation: Entrepreneur, philanthropist, claimed to be the first female self-made millionaire
Notable journeys: Developed a line of hair and skincare products and in 1913, traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Panama, and Costa Rica) to promote her business and recruit saleswomen. Was on the road for three years, and the expansion into these countries contributed to her company’s significant success.
Notable work: Donated much of her fortune to the NAACP, orphanages, and several non-profit organizations that served African-American individuals and communities.
Quote: “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”
Eliza Jane Gillett Bridgman
Birth: 1805; Derby, Connecticut
Death: 1871; Shanghai
Occupation: Teacher, missionary, biographer
Notable journeys: One of the first unmarried women to be a Protestant missionary in China, though she married shortly after arriving in 1844. Served in Canton until her husband died in 1862. Returned to Peking in 1864 to open the Bridgman Academy (now the Women’s College of Yenching University).
Notable work: Daughters of China; or, sketches of domestic life in the Celestial Empire; The pioneer of American missions in China: the life and labors of Elijah Coleman Bridgman
Pearl Buck (Sai Zhenzhu)
Birth: June 26, 1892; Hillsboro, West Virginia
Death: March 6, 1973; Danby, Vermont
Occupation: Writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1932, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938
Notable journeys: Grew up in China with her missionary parents and lived primarily in China until 1934.
Notable work: Wrote more than 100 stories and books, including The Good Earth, A House Divided, East Wind: West Wind, The Big Wave, and many more.
Quote: “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”
Birth: July 28, 1879; Brooklyn, New York
Death: December 22, 1966; Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Teacher, women’s rights activist; co-founder of the National Woman’s Party
Notable journeys: Moved to Berlin for graduate school in 1906 and visited England in 1909, where she met British and Scottish suffragists. Dropped out of school to join the movement full time through 1912. Followed Alice Paul back to the United States and helped lead the women’s rights movement there.
Notable work: Organized several protests and events to advance women’s suffrage; arrested six times and spent more time in prison than any other U.S. suffragist
Quote: “It is unthinkable that a national government which represents women should ignore the issue of the right of all women to political freedom.”
Mary Agnes Chase
Birth: April 29, 1869; Iroquois County, Illinois
Death: September 24, 1963; Washington, D.C.?
Notable journeys: Spent much of her career traveling to collect samples of grasses for the U.S. Herbarium (now part of the Museum of Natural History), especially in Europe and Brazil. Made her first trip in 1906, which included 19 states and Mexico. In 1913, went to Puerto Rico. In 1922, went to Vienna, Austria. In 1924 and 1929 went to Brazil and collected 20,000 specimens. In 1922 and 1923, returned to Europe and went to Austria, Italy, Leiden and Brussels. Went to France in 193 and Venezuela sometime later. Was often unpaid for her contributions, though male colleagues were compensated for similar trips
Notable work: Agnes Chases’s First Book of Grasses; co-edited Index to Grass Species; illustrated several botany books, including Plantae Utowanae (1900) and Plantae Yucatanae (1903-1904); and produced a series of field books for USDA between 1897 and 1959, many of which she produced without pay
Quote: “Of all plants grasses are the most important to man. They different kinds are known by very few even among botanists. This is largely because they are supposed to be very difficult. When the structure of grasses is clearly understood, they are not more difficult to study than are other plants.”
Birth: January 26, 1892; Atlanta, Texas
Death: April 30, 1926; Jacksonville, Florida
Notable journeys: With funding from the Chicago Defender newspaper, traveled to Paris on November 20, 1920, to earn a pilot license, since flight schools in America would not admit women or African Americans. Obtained her license on June 15, 1921. Returned to Europe in February 1922 to study barnstorming stunt plane techniques in the Netherlands and Germany.
Notable work: Was a popular stunt pilot in the United States before her death in a flight accident at age 34. Is the namesake of numerous scholarships, awards, and cultural organizations.
Quote: “You’ve never lived till you’ve flown!”
Anna J. Cooper
Birth: August 10, 1858; Raleigh, North Carolina (born into slavery)
Death: February 27, 1964 (age 105); Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Author, teacher, university president, public speaker, activist
Notable journeys: In 1900, gave a speech called “The Negro Problem in America” at the first Pan-African Conference in London. Obtained a PhD from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1924, making her one of a handful of African Americans to hold an advanced degree at the time.
Notable work: A Voice from The South
Quote: On the U.S. passport: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”
Ruth B. Cowan
Birth: 1901; Salt Lake City, Utah
Death: February 6, 1993; Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
Occupation: One of the first female accredited war correspondents
Notable journeys: Joined the Associated Press Bureau in London in 1941. Sent to Algiers in 1943 to cover the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, hospitals, and other operations in North Africa.
Notable work: Several articles for the Associated Press
“What is the first law of war?” General Patton asked.
“You kill him before he kills you,” Ms. Cowan replied.
“She stays,” General Patton said.
Dickey Chapelle (Georgette Louise Meyer)
Birth: March 14, 1919; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Death: November 4, 1965; south of Chu Lai, Vietnam (first female American reporter killed on a battlefield)
Occupation: Stunt pilot, photographer, war correspondent
Notable journeys: Began career in 1941 by moving to Panama as a photographer to follow her then-husband, a sailor. Eventually embedded with the Marines at Iwo Jima and Okinawa during WWII. Later covered the Korean War, the uprising in Hungary, and the Vietnam War, where she was killed by shrapnel.
Notable work: Large collection of photos; More here; What’s a Woman Doing Here? A Combat Reporter’s Report on Herself
Quote: “If you were a real photographer, you were on the spot where things happened beforehand. You practiced judging the intensity of light till your fingers automatically went to the aperture and shutter controls of your camera every time a cloud came across the face of the sun. You practiced judging distance until you unthinkingly rolled your focusing knob if someone walked across the room. And you practiced guessing the speed of a passing object so you could stop its motion in a picture … till you set your shutter at the right speed from the sound, not the sight. In short, you became a picture-making machine, and could give all your conscious effort to deciding what was worth recording on film.”
Margery Deane (Marie J. Davis Pitman)
(Postcard of Berlin circa 1900, by Austrian artist Gustav Kalhammer.)
Birth: March 17, 1850; Hartwick, New York
Death: November 20, 1888; Paris, France
Occupation: Children’s author, travel writer
Notable journeys: Collected children’s folklore from across Asia and Europe, though it’s unclear what travel if any was involved in the project (published in 1877). Traveled across Europe in the early 1880s; stops included a Danube tour through Germany, Austria, and Hungary; Switzerland, Italy, France, and the Holy Land.
Notable work: European Breezes, which concludes with a remarkable chapter on travel logistics and prices for various European tours; Wonder-world Stories (co-written with Marie Pabke)
Quote: “Thank God for imagination! –that imagination which enables me, with shut eyes and ears, here in my own harbor, to drift on other waters, so distant that the night lingers longer in its coming to me after it has fall upon them.”
Nettie Fowler Dietz
Notable journeys: Six-month journey through Italy, Egypt, and South Sudan in 1912-1913.
Notable work: A White Woman in a Black Man’s Country, a collection of letters to her sister during the journey
Quote: “You know how I love Italy, and as the genial sunshine warmed every corner of my being as I walked today, there came into my mind what someone has so beautifully said … Italy is your mother and your ardent mistress rolled in one. Italy steals you from yourself. You live with Italy in your heart, talking her, thinking her, as you live under the dominance of the lover who is your world.”
Birth: April 24, 1847; Washington, North Carolina
Death: May 7, 1875; shipwreck off the coast of the Scilly Isles
Occupation: School teacher, medical doctor
Notable journeys: Enrolled at the University of Zurich in Switzerland to study medicine, as American medicals schools refused to admit a female student. Graduated with honors in 1871 and then lived in Vienna, Austria, for four months with other female doctors and scientists, who dubbed themselves the “Wiener Quartett.” Dimock was en route to a reunion with these friends when her ship wrecked off the Irish coast.
Notable work: Became a resident physician at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in 1872, opened a nursing school, and established a private OBGYN practice.
Birth: April 8, 1910; Pasadena, California
Death: November 24, 2002; Pasadena, California
Occupation: Housewife, writer
Notable journeys: In the 1950s, moved to Mexico with her husband, who had inherited a copper mine. Stayed until 1972, and her experiences in the mining town inspired her later writings.
Notable work: Stones for Ibarra (her debut novel, was published when she was 73); Consider This, Señora; Tiger in the Grass
Quote: “During your life, everything you do and everyone you meet rubs off in some way. Some bit of everything you experience stays with everyone you’ve ever known, and nothing is lost. That’s what is eternal, these little specks of experience in a great, enormous river that has no end.”
Birth: July 24, 1897; Atchinson, Kansas
Death: Last radio transmission was made on July 2, 1937 near Howland Island; declared legally dead on January 5, 1939
Occupation: Pilot, visiting faculty member at Purdue University, co-founder of the Earhart-Mantz Flying School
Notable journeys: In 1935, was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, and later that year completed record-setting solo flighting from Los Angeles to Mexico City and from Mexico City to New York. First attempted to circumnavigate the globe in March 1937. Second attempt launched on June 29, 1937, and ended in her disappearance.
Notable work: Last Flight; Government documents on her disappearance; Amelia Earhart collection at Purdue University
Quote: “Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”
Birth: March 13, 1892; Indianapolis, Indiana
Death: November 7, 1978; New York City
Occupation: Magazine writer, art critic
Notable journeys: In 1921, moved to Paris because “Americans with little private incomes, like me, who wanted to write, could afford to live on their hopes and good bistro food.” Remained abroad for almost 50 years, moving back only briefly to escape Nazi occupation (returned permanently to New York in 1975, in poor health).
Notable work: In 1925, Jane Grant invited Flanner to submit a column for a fledging magazine called The New Yorker. Flanner would become a regular columnist for the rest of her life. Wrote a novel called The Cubicle City, several art monographs, and five collections of letters and profiles for The New Yorker.
Quote: “All women of intelligence at once discovered in the beginning of the 19th century that if they were going to have anything more than they could see on the plate, they would have to furbish it themselves. They would have to furnish their own diet of novelty and extension and expansion. I was one of the acute young females who saw that my plate was going to be very empty unless I hustled around and filled it full of all the extra privileges I wanted women to have because I was a woman. All of these things are self loyalties, that’s the way society is improved. I’m convinced of that. Nothing is improved by chance. Everything always goes better because someone said, ‘I can’t stand this any longer.’”
Birth: July 18, 1891; New York City
Death: July 10, 1980; Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation: Publicist, writer
Notable journeys: In 1923, newly-married Fleischman applied for a passport under her maiden name, and in April she received a document that read, “Doris Fleischman Bernays, professionally known as Doris E. Fleischman.” She went alone to Europe for 3 months, spending much of her time with Sigmund Freud in Vienna. In 1925, she applied for another passport, and this time there was a press firestorm. In June, she received the first passport issued to a married woman solely in her maiden name, “Doris E. Fleischman,” and went to France with her husband.
Notable work: Key member of the Lucy Stone League, an organization dedicated to preserving a woman’s right to her maiden name; A Wife is Many Women (a memoir); co-owned and co-ran a pioneering PR firm with Edward L. Bernays.
Quote: Her letter to the State Department in 1925: “Since it is apparent that the purpose of a passport is to establish identity, I assume you will not wish me to travel under a false name.”
Barbara Newhall Follett
Birth: March 4, 1914; Hanover, New Hampshire
Death: Disappeared December 7, 1939; last seen in Brookline, Massachusetts
Notable journeys: Joined a schooner crew at age 13 and wrote a novel about her travels around Nova Scotia. Sailed around the world with her mother in the late 1920s.
Notable work: The House Without Windows (published at age 12); The Voyage of Norman D. (published at age 14); A Life in Letters
Quote: “Flowers have faded; Butterfly wings are weary; And far off is the chanting of the sea.”
Birth: May 23, 1810; Cambridgeport, Massachusettes
Death: July 19, 1850; shipwreck off of Fire Island, New York
Occupation: Editor of The Dial, activist, New York Tribune writer, author
Notable journeys: In 1846, worked in England and Italy as the first American female foreign correspondent (for the New York Tribune).
Notable work: Summer on the Lakes; Woman in the Nineteenth Century
Quote: “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
Birth: November 8, 1908; St. Louis, Missouri
Death: February 15, 1998; London
Occupation: War correspondent, novelist
Notable journeys: Covered the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Reported from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, and England during WWII and was the first reporter at the Dachau concentration camp. Covered the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Panama, among other conflicts. Last international trip was to cover poverty in Brazil in 1995.
Notable work: The Trouble I’ve Seen, The Face of War
Quote: “It would be a bitter cosmic joke if we destroy ourselves due to atrophy of the imagination.”
Birth: May 29, 1892; Joplin, Missouri
Death: March 16, 1972; Litchfield, Connecticut
Occupation: Singer, war correspondent, magazine editor, entrepreneur, women’s rights advocate
Notable journeys: Went to France in September 1918 as part of YMCA’s Motion Picture Bureau. Was transferred to the Entertainment Corps as a singer, where she met Stars and Stripes writer Harold Ross, who she married. Returned to France with a friend in 1922, which sparked a life-long passion for independent travel. In 1934, went to China as part of a seven-month tour around the world (other stops included Japan, Russia and Germany). Returned to Europe several times, most often to France, Italy, and Greece. Visited the Soviet Union in 1935 and drove across Eastern Europe with Marcia Davenport in 1937. Later worked as a war reporter during WWII and was in Guatemala in the 1960s.
Notable work: With Ross, co-founded The New Yorker in 1925 and was instrumental in arranging financing and staff during the early days of the magazine. With Ruth Hale, co-founded the Lucy Stone League, an organization dedicated to preserving a woman’s right to her maiden name. Co-founded the New York Newspaper Women’s Club. Wrote a memoir: Ross, The New Yorker, and Me and a large collection of articles for The New York Times and many other publications. Co-founder of mail-order seed company White Flower Farm.
Quote: “Women need financial security to assert themselves. If women really prefer housework, let them a least get a salary so they get financial independence.”
Emily “Mickey” Hahn
Birth: January 15, 1905; St. Louis, Missouri
Death: February 18, 1997; New York City
Occupation: Novelist, magazine writer, biographer
Notable journeys: Two-year solo journey to the Belgian Congo starting in 1931. Spent eight years in China under Japanese occupation throughout WWII. Split her time between New York and England for the rest of her life.
Notable work: Congo Solo, China to Me, No Hurry to Get Home
Quote: “I have deliberately chosen the uncertain path whenever I had the chance.”
Birth: July 5, 1887; Rogersville, Tennessee
Death: September 18, 1934; New York City
Occupation: Writer, women’s rights advocate
Notable journeys: Shortly after her wedding in June 1917, applied for a passport in her maiden name. Was denied by the State Department and went to France for a year-long stint as a war correspondent. In 1920, was denied again for a passport and co-founded the Lucy Stone League to preserve a woman’s right to her own name after marriage.
Notable work: Wrote for several magazines and publications, including New York World, Brooklyn Eagle, Judge, Chicago Tribune and more.
Quote: “My name is the symbol of my own identity and must not be lost.”
Corra May/Mae Harris
Birth: March 17, 1869; near Elberton, Georgia
Death: February 7, 1935; Atlanta, Georgia
Occupation: Novelist, war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post
Notable journeys: Went to London in 1911 to write about “European women.” Saturday Evening Post sent her back to cover WWI. In September 1914 became one of the first women to cover WWI; traveled to London, Paris, and elsewhere in France to report on the Woman’s Emergency Corps, German atrocities as recounted by women and orphans, and a hospital run by Madame Marcherez.
Notable work: A Circuit Rider’s Wife
Quote: “Men’s sacrifice in war is at least recorded by history, while women’s story goes untold.”
Marguerite (Elton Baker) Harrison
Birth: October,1879; Baltimore, Maryland
Death: July 16, 1967; Baltimore?
Occupation: Newspaper editor, spy, author, philanthropist
Notable journeys: In 1918, sent to Germany by the Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. Army to report on post-armistice society. In February 1920, went to Russia as a spy and provided aid to American prisoners; captured and imprisoned for ten months. By 1923, was spying in China.
Notable work: Marooned in Moscow: the Story of an American Woman Imprisoned in Russia; Red Bear or Yellow Dragon; Asia Reborn; There’s Always Tomorrow: The Story of a Checkered Life
Quote: “The whole matter may be summed up as follows: We may not like the Soviet Government, but it is a real government. To refuse to help and continue to isolate Russia will have the effect of completing the economic ruin of the country, with the consequent reaction upon world economics, of strengthening the political dictatorship of the Communist party, pushing them still further in their tactical program of promoting world revolution, and perhaps of finally driving them in desperation to military aggression. The eventual outcome will be anarchy or possibly a reaction far more bloody and far more terrible than the Communist regime.”
Birth: September 3, 1920; Hong Kong
Death: January 3, 1966; Washington, D.C.
Occupation: War correspondent; first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting (1951)
Notable journeys: Went to Europe for the New York Herald in 1944; stationed in London, Paris, and Germany. Witnessed the liberation of Dachau and the Soviet Union blockade in Berlin. In 1950, named chief of the paper’s Tokyo bureau and covered the Korean War. In 1955, established a bureau in Moscow. In 1963, covered Vietnam for Newsday.
Notable work: News is a Singular Thing; War in Korea: The Report of a Woman Combat Correspondent
Quote: “Unfortunately, free countries have a chronic disposition to ignore the threats made by dictatorships. Hitler told us what he was going to do. The North Koreans told us what they were going to do, and so did the Chinese. But because we didn’t like what they told us, we didn’t believe them.”
Birth: October 9, 1830; Watertown, Massachusetts
Death: February 21, 1908; Watertown, Massachusetts
Occupation: Considered the first professional female sculptor
Notable journeys: In November 1852, followed actress Charlotte Cushman and began to study sculpting. Lived primarily in England during this time and made frequent trips to Rome. Established a community of fellow female expat sculptors and was both supportive of and competitive with her friends and proteges.
Notable work: Medusa (1854); Puck (1855), which sold 50 copies, including one to the Prince of Wales; Oenone (1855); Zenobia in Chains (1859)
Quote: “Every woman should have the power of educating herself for any profession and then practicing it for her benefit and the benefit of others.”
Peggy Hull (Henrietta Eleanor Goodnough Deuell)
Birth: September 30 or December 30, 1889; Bennington, Kansas
Death: June 19, 1967; Carmel, California
Occupation: First female war correspondent accredited by the U.S. War Department; founding member of the Overseas Press Club of America
Notable journeys: Covered Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916. Traveled to France in 1917 to cover WWI for the Chicago Tribune and was quickly recalled to the United States. Received “official accreditation” as a war reporter in 1918 and covered conflicts in Siberia, Shanghai, and several Pacific Islands.
Notable work: Collection of articles
Quote: “To know the fullness of a well-rounded life it is necessary to have ventured into the world with ideas and hopes and projects.”
Zora Neale Hurston
Margaret F. Foley
Birth: 1827; northern Vermont
Death: 1877; Meran, Austria-Hungary
Occupation: Maid, schoolteacher, mill worker, neo-classical sculptor
Notable journeys: A Vermont politician recognized her talent at making cameos and funded her emigration to Rome, where she became a classically trained marble sculptor. Remained in Europe for the rest of her life.
Notable work: Marble reliefs, sculptors, fountains, and more.
Helen Hunt Jackson
Birth: October 15, 1830; Amherst, Massachusetts
Death: August 12, 1885; San Francisco, California
Occupation: Activist, novelist, U.S. Department of the Interior agent
Notable journeys: Traveled across then-Indian Territory and spent time on several American Indian reservations.
Notable work: Ramona, A Century of Dishonor
Quote: “I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people’s hearts. People will read a novel when they will not read serious books.”
Birth: October 18, 1909; Rochester, New York
Death: December 29, 1997; Williamsburg, Virginia
Occupation: WWII war correspondent, State Department bureaucrat, university administrator; awarded the Medal of Freedom
Notable journeys: Obtained graduate degrees in law and international studies in Geneva, Switzerland in the early 1930s. Went to France in 1935 as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Moved to London in 1937 and wrote for several publications. Traveled with the U.S. Army to Algeria and during the Invasion of Normandy. Rode in a tank during the liberation of Paris. Stole a frying pan from Hitler’s Berchtesgarden retreat.
Notable work: This Terrible Peace and Under the British Umbrella: What the English are and how they go to war; large body of articles and correspondence
Quote: “I can’t change my sex. But you can change your policy.”
Maria Louisa Lander
Quote: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
(Nathaniel Hawthorne on visiting Lander’s studio in February 1858: “Miss Lander has become strongly attached to Rome, and says that, when she dreams of home, it is merely of paying a short visit, and coming back before her trunk is unpacked.”)
Rose Wilder Lane
Birth: December 5, 1886; De Smet, Dakota Territory
Death: October 30, 1968; Danbury, Connecticut
Occupation: Novelist, journalist, libertarian activist
Notable journeys: Went to Europe post-WWI with the Red Cross. Lived in Albania for two years two years. Covered the Vietnam War at age 78.
Notable work: Diverging Roads; Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford; Give Me Liberty
Quote: “The longest lives are short; our work lasts longer.”
Birth: April 13, 1891; Chicago
Death: March 30, 1964; New York City
Notable journeys: Spent part of childhood in her mother’s native Denmark. Lived again in Cophenhagen for four years sometime around 1910.
Notable work: Passing; Quicksand, a novel based on her experiences in Denmark
Quote: “Authors do not supply imaginations, they expect their readers to have their own, and to use it.”
Dorothy Hosmer Lee
Occupation: Photographer, U.S. Air Force
Notable journeys: Cycled alone through Romania, Ukraine, and Poland in 1937.
Notable work: An American Girl Cycles Across Romania
Quote: “I didn’t know then that I was to come to mountains infested with bandits.”
Mary Edmonia Lewis (also known as Wildfire)
Birth: 1843 or 1845, Rensselaer, New York
Death: September 17, 1907; London
Notable journeys: Sold enough sculptures to finance an apprenticeship in Rome in 1865 and traveled to London, Paris, and Florence around this time. Lived primarily in Rome for the rest of her life.
Notable work: Several neo-classical sculptures
Quote: “There is nothing so beautiful as the free forest. To catch a fish when you are hungry, cut the boughs of a tree, make a fire to roast it, and eat it in the open air, is the greatest of all luxuries. I would not stay a week pent up in cities, if it were not for my passion for art.”
Mary Murdoch Mason
Occupation: Writer, homemaker
Notable journeys: Traveled across Europe, likely in the early 1870s. Followed her husband, a railroad executive, to Mexico, where they lived from 1898-1902. They also lived in Colombia from 1905-1907.
Notable work: Mae Madden: A Story
Quote: “I’ve said good-bye to my dreams of life—the floating and waving and singing and dancing life that was like iced champagne. I’d rather have cold water, thank you, sir, for a steady drink, morning, noon and night.”
Anne Cary Morris Maudslay
Occupation: Archeology assistant, photographer
Notable journeys: Sailed to Guatemala in 1892 to spend two weeks working with a British archeologist to document Mayan ruins for Harvard. That trip also happened to be their honeymoon.
Notable work: A Glimpse at Guatemala, and Some Notes on the Ancient Monuments of Central America
Quote: “I was always conscious of a longing desire to witness some great ceremony at Copan, such as one’s imagination conjures up amid such surroundings.”
Mary Alice McWhinnie
Birth: August 10, 1922; Chicago, Illinois
Death: March 17, 1980
Occupation: Biologist, first American woman to serve as chief scientist at an Antarctic research station
Notable journeys: Notable journeys: In 1962, sailed along Antarctica for two months to study krill in very cold water. Completed additional sailing expeditions in 1965, 1967, 1969, and 1970. In 1972, was one of two women (with Sister Mary Odile Cahoon) to overwinter at the McMurdo Research Station. (They’re often misattributed as the first women to overwinter on the continent.) Visited Antarctica 11 times.
Notable work: More than fifty scientific articles on krill; the namesake of a peak in Antarctica
(Read more about life in Antarctica during McWhinnie’s era.)
Birth: December 16, 1901; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Death: November 15, 1978; New York City
Notable journeys: In 1925, spent nine months on the islands of America Samoa to study 68 adolescent girls. Her subsequent books and lectures about her fieldwork launched her career as a landmark anthropologist and public advocate for progressive parenting, sexual freedom, and other social causes.
Notable work: Coming of Age in Samoa; Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies; an estimated 1,500 publications, films, and articles
Quote: “As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”
Marie Mattingly Meloney
Birth: December 8, 1878; Bardstown, Kentucky
Death: June 23, 1943; Pawling, New York
Occupation: Journalist, editor, fund-raiser
Notable journeys: In 1920, interviewed scientist Marie Curie in Paris, which inspired Meloney to lead a successful campaign to raise money for Curie to obtain samples of radium. During WWII, interviewed Italy’s Benito Mussolini four times.
Notable work: Wrote articles for The Washington Post, the Denver Post, New York World, and New York Sun and edited several other publications
Quote: “On one morning in the spring of 1898, Madam Curie stepped forth from a crude shack on the outskirts of Paris, with the greatest secret of the century literally in the palm of her hand.”
Harriet Bell Merrill
Birth: 1863; Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Death: Either April 10, 1914 or April 10, 1915; Illinois
Notable journeys: Conducted fieldwork alone in Brazil, Venezula, Trinidad, British Guiana, and Curacao in 1902-1903. Visited Brazil again in 1909.
Notable work: The Anandrous Journey: The Discovery of Revealing Letters to a Mentor
Quote: “Most people find the low heels and broad soles of this lady’s shoes objects of curiosity. It is possible that I could pay my expenses by exhibiting them as a new trend for women.”
Loretta Wood Merwin
Notable journeys: Accompanied her father and husband to Chile, where the men were appointed diplomatic councils. Chronicled their lives in Valparaiso for three years, from 1853 to 1856.
Notable work: Three Years in Chile
Quote: “Night and day the clangor of church bells is incessant — as if it were a dogma of the mother church to make all the clashing possible, and to destroy the slumber of heretic foreigners.”
Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia
Birth: May 24, 1870; Washington, D.C. or Limestone County, Texas.
Death: July 12, 1938; Berkeley, California
Occupation: Poultry farmer, social worker, botanist, public lecturer.
Notable journeys: As a teenager, left her mother in America in order to care for her ailing father in Mexico City. At age 55, launched a career as a botanist with an expedition to western Mexico in 1925. Additional expeditions included Argentina and Chile in 1928, Brazil in 1929, Ecuador in 1934, Peru in 1935, and her final trip, to Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1937.
Notable work: Discovered a new genus of sunflowers, Mexianthus, and collected around 150,000 specimens, including more than 50 new species. Published pamphlets, including “Three Thousand Miles up the Amazon” and “Camping on the Equator.”
Birth: August 6, 1886; Brooklyn, New York
Death: November 25, 1916; Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Women’s rights activist, war correspondent for the New York Tribune
Notable journeys: Went to Italy to cover WWI in 1915; her articles led to her censure and deportation by the Italian government. Onboard Henry Ford’s Peace Ship Expedition in 1915.
Notable work: Suffrage speeches and commentaries on American social policies
Quote: “Not to know what things in life require remedying is a crime. It leaves you at the mercy of events–it lets life manipulate you–instead of training you to manipulate life.”
Born: January 3, 1793; Nantucket, Massachusetts
Died: November 11, 1880; Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Abolitionist, women’s rights activist
Notable journeys: Traveled to London in June 1840 to attend the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two discussed the idea of a women’s rights convention in America, which eventually became the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, a pivotal moment in the formal organization of the suffrage movement. Mott was a mentor to Cady Stanton for the rest of her life.
Notable work: Discourse on Woman (pamphlet); several extemporaneous speeches against slavery and for women’s rights
Quote: “The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of women the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.”
Blair Niles (Mary Blair Rice Beebe)
Birth: June 15, 1880; The Oaks, Virginia
Death: April 13, 1959; New York
Occupation: Travel writer, biographer, novelist; founding member of the Society of Women Geographers
Notable journeys: In December 1903, accompanied her husband, a noted naturalist, on an expedition to Mexico to study birds and co-write a book about vacationing in the wilderness. Subsequently contributed to expeditions in Venezuela, Trinidad and British Guinea . They also traveled to Europe, Egypt, Ceylon, India, Burma, the Malay States, Java, Borneo, China, and Japan. Was the first woman to visit the Devil’s Island penal colony on French Guiana, and her reports contributed to prison reform there.
Notable work: Wrote 16 books and co-authored two more. Our Search for a Wilderness: An Account of Two Ornithological Expeditions to Venezuela and British Guiana; Peruvian Pageant; Condemned to Devil’s Island; Free; Strange Brother
Quote: On traveling: “You are never tired, never bored. You feel as if you could go on living forever, as if you had just touched the fringe of what you want to do.”
Mary Boyle O’Reilly
Birth: May 18, 1873; Boston, Massachusetts
Death: October 21, 1939; Auburndale, Massachusetts
Occupation: Prison commissioner, philanthropist, undercover journalist, foreign correspondent for The Newspaper Enterprise Association
Notable journeys: Traveled in Europe circa 1900 (returned to Boston in 1901). First newspaper assignments were in Mexico and Russia in 1913. Entered Belgium in disguise in 1914 and was the only English-speaking journalist to witness the burning of Louvain. In London during the 1915 Zeppelin raids and was imprisoned. Released in Holland and returned to Belgium in disguise. Monitored prison camps and hospitals in France and England until returning to New York in 1917.
Notable work: Large collection of articles for several publications.
Quote: “The train crawling out of Berlin was filled with women and children, hardly an able-bodied man. In one compartment a gray-haired Landsturm soldier sat beside an elderly woman who seemed weak and ill. Above the click-clack of the car wheels passengers could hear her counting: ‘One, two, three,’ evidently absorbed in her own thoughts. Sometimes she repeated the words at short intervals. Two girls tittered, thoughtlessly exchanging vapid remarks about such extraordinary behavior. An elderly man scowled reproval. Silence fell. ‘One, two, three,’ repeated the obviously unconscious woman. Again the girls giggled stupidly. The gray Landsturm leaned forward.’Fräulein,’ he said gravely, ‘you will perhaps cease laughing when I tell you that this poor lady is my wife. We have just lost our three sons in battle. Before leaving for the front myself I must take their mother to an insane asylum.’ It became terribly quiet in the carriage.”
Elsie Clews Parsons
Birth: November 27, 1875; New York City
Birth: January 11, 1885; Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey
Death: July 9, 1977; Moorestown, New Jersey
Occupation: Women’s rights activist, co-founder of the National Women’s Party
Notable journeys: In 1906 or 1907, moved to England and got involved with the British and Scottish suffrage movements, often putting herself in physical danger in order to garner attention to the cause. Arrested seven times and imprisoned three times in England. Returned to the United States in 1910 to recover from a hunger strike and became an important figure in the American women’s suffrage movement.
Notable work: One of the original authors of the Equal Rights Amendment
Quote: “When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”
Ethel L. Payne
Birth: August 14, 1911; Chicago, Illinois
Death: May 29, 1991; Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Journalist, war correspondent
Notable journeys: While with the Army Special Services in Japan in the late 1940s, met a reporter who got her a job at the Chicago Defender. In 1966, covered African American troops fighting in the Vietnam War. Also covered the Nigerian civil war and accompanied Henry Kissinger on a tour of six countries in Africa.
Notable work: A large body of articles and columns for the Chicago Defender
Quote: “I had no thought of serious writing when I started, but I kept a diary, which later got me in trouble.”
Read more about Ethel’s career in her own words
Josephine Diebitsch Peary
Birth: May 22 1863; Washington, D.C.
Death: December 19, 1955; Portland, Maine
Occupation: Arctic explorer
Notable journeys: Part of a year-long expedition led by her husband in 1891 to explore northern Greenland. Returned to Greenland again in 1893 and delivered a daughter. Visited a third and final time in 1902.
Notable work: My Arctic Journal: A Year Among Ice-Fields and Eskimos; The Snow Baby
Quote: “Many a time I have found myself in cloudy weather traveling in gray space … Yet as far as my eyes gave me evidence to the contrary, I was walking upon nothing. The space between my snow-shoes was as light as the zenith. The opaque light which filled the sphere of vision might come from below as well as above. A curious mental as well as physical strain resulted from this blindess with wide-open eyes.”
Annie Smith Peck
Birth: October 19, 1850; Providence, Rhode Island
Death: July 18, 1935; New York City
Occupation: Mountaineer, teacher, public speaker
1. First climbs (1885) included Cape Misenum in Italy and Theodul Pass in Switzerland.
2. Climbed the Matterhorn in 1895 wearing pants, which could have led to an arrest.
3. First person to climb Nevado Huascaran in Peru in 1908.
4. Generated controversy for placing a Women’s Vote banner at the top of Coropuna in Peru in 1914.
5. A 6,648 m peak in Peru was renamed Cumbr Ana Peck in her honor in 1928.
6. Climbed her last peak, New Hampshire’s Mount Madison, at age 82.
Notable work: The Search for the Apex of America: High Mountain Climbing in Peru and Bolivia, including the Conquest of Huascaran, with Some Observations on the Country and People Below
Quote: “My home is where my truck is.”
Elizabeth Robins Pennell (N.N./No Name; AU/Author Unknown; PER)
Birth: February 21, 1855; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Death: February 7, 1936; New York City
Occupation: Biographer, memoirist, book collector, art critic and patron, cyclist
Notable journeys: Moved to London with her husband around 1870 and spent most of her adulthood there; undertook several cycling journeys across Europe.
Notable work: Landmark biography of Mary Wollstonecraft; Nights; The Life of James McNeill Whistler; Our Philadelphia; Our House and London Out of Our Windows; Over the Alps on a Bicycle; The Feasts of Autoycus, the diary of a greedy woman; magazine articles for Century Magazine
Quote: “There are times when we recall old memories much as we take down old favourites from our bookshelves, just to see how they have worn, how they have stood the test of years. Sometimes the books have worn so well that we cannot put them away until we have read every word to the very last again, we have not done with the memories until we have lived again through every moment of the past to which they belong.”
Katherine Anne Porter
Birth: May 15, 1890; Indian Creek, Texas
Death: September 18, 1980; Silver Spring, Maryland
Occupation: Writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Notable journeys: In 1920, visited Mexico and took a job at a magazine with close ties to the budding leftist revolution. Traveled between the U.S. and Mexico throughout the 20s. Around 1930, moved to Paris. Also spent time in Spain and Switzerland before moving back to the States in 1938.
Notable works: Ship of Fools (inspired by her move to Europe); Flowering Judas (a collection of stories about Mexico); Pale Horse, Pale Rider
Quote: “The past is never where you think you left it.”
Birth: June 11, 1880; Missoula County, Montana
Death: May 18, 1973; Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Occupation: Carpenter, social worker, first woman elected to U.S. Congress, peace advocate
Notable journeys: In 1946, Rankin went to India to study Gandhi’s non violent civil disobedience tactics. Returned to India several times for a total of six trips. Also traveled to South Africa, South America, Iran, Turkey, Ireland, continental Europe, China, Russia.
Notable work: Legislation related to pacifism and women’s rights
Quote: “If I am remembered for no other act, I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”
Birth: July 27, 1841; West Potsdam, New York
Death: April 16, 1930; Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: First professional American nurse
Notable journeys: After becoming the first nurse to graduate from a formal nursing school in the United States (at the New England Hospital), attended a seven-month training program under Florence Nightingale in England. In 1885, helped to establish Japan’s first formal training program for nurses and supervised the program for five years.
Notable work: Reminiscences of Linda Richards
Quote: “Certain problems in the training of the [Japanese] nurses which gave me especial difficulty at first were the result of my ignorance of the people and of their customs, and of my slowness in realizing that the habits of a lifetime were not to be overcome in a few weeks or months.”
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Birth: August 12, 1876; Allegheny City, Pennsylvania
Death: September 22, 1958; New York City
Occupation: Mystery novelist, WWI correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post
Notable journeys: Traveled to Germany in January 1915 to cover WWI from the Belgian front (got within 200 yards of the frontline) and stayed in Europe until the 1918 Armistice. Later traveled the West Indies and Central and South America.
Notable work: The Bat (one of the inspirations for Batman); Before the Drums Beat; The Circular Staircase; The Door; war stories
Quote: “I want no more war. I want my children safe, and their children after them. I want no foreign propaganda, driving us insidiously to the fighting point. I would defend my country to the last inch of my body and soul; but I want to be sure that it needs defense.”
Elizabeth Robins (C.E. Raimond)
Birth: August 6, 1862; Louisville, Kentucky
Death: May 8, 1952; Brighton, United Kingdom
Occupation: Playwright, actor, novelist, WWI nurse, women’s rights activist
Notable journeys: Moved to London on September 3, 1888, to emotionally recover from her husband’s suicide earlier that year. In the early 1900s, left England to search for her missing brother in Alaska. She eventually returned to London where she wrote two books inspired by the search.
Notable work: Magnetic North, Come And Find Me, Votes for Women: A Play in Three Acts, Woman’s Secret
Quote: “No view is more widely accepted than that every woman’s book is but a naive attempt to extend her own little personality. We do not commonly find the man-made hero confounded with the author. When a man takes some small section of the arc of a character or a dramatic situation, and (capable if intellectual honesty, and precisely of leaving himself out of the Saga) if he follows the curve so rigidly that he describes the complete circle, his faithful projection of the illusion of life is rewarded by his critics’ saying: ‘What a power of imagination the fellow has!’ If a woman but attempts this honourable task–an affair of strong self-control and of almost mathematical accuracy–if she happens to bring it off, her critics pat her on the back with an absent-minded air, while they look about for ‘personal experience.'”
Birth: January 15, 1876; Lawrence, Kansas
Death: April 7, 1957; New York City
Occupation: Journalist, photographer, first female overseas bureau chief for United Press
Notable journeys: In 1914, went to Rome as as bureau chief for the United Press International Bureau and covered WWI for several major publications. Photographed the Balkans for the Red Cross in 1919 and lived in Italy until 1935 to observe the rise of Mussolini.
Notable work: Large collection of articles; Our Littlest Ally (National Geographic pamphlet about San Marino); Italy’s Man of Tomorrow
Quote: From her interview with Benito Mussolini: “We sat talking, this dark, smooth-shaven man of 38 and myself, in the parlor of his Rome hotel. I noticed as he waited—rather critically, I thought—for me to launch my questions, that his eyes were almost as contradictory as his mouth. They were piercing, commanding, blazing eyes, but they also were brooding and melancholy eyes. Mussolini’s mouth is strong, determined, domineering, uncompromising. The lips are neither thin nor thick, but the upper lip is so curved as to accentuate an unmistakable sensuousness. His teeth are white and even. His nose is large, well formed, suggestive of power. His head, upon which the short black hair is thinning on top, is of that dominating, aggressive, powerful type one associates with old Roman leaders.”
Edith “Jackie” Ronne
Birth: October 14, 1919; Baltimore, Maryland
Death: June 14, 2009; Bethesda, Maryland
Occupation: U.S. State Department clerk, Antarctic explorer, North American Newspaper Alliance correspondent, namesake of the Ronne Ice Shelf
Notable journeys: In 1946, joined the Ronne Expedition (named for her husband) to Antarctica, becoming the first American woman to visit the continent and one of the first two women to overwinter on Antarctica. Visited Antarctica a total of 15 times.
Notable work: From Heels to Mukluks; Ronne’s notes significantly influenced the book now credited solely to her husband, Antarctic Conquest: the Story of the Ronne Expedition 1946-1948
Quote: “When my husband, Captain Finn Ronne, first organized the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition in 1946, I readily gave a helping hand to the enormous amount of tedious planning such an undertaking required. So familiar had I become with the background of the expedition, that it had been my intention to handle its affairs Stateside, while they were away. It was a hectic departure, and while bidding my husband good-bye, he asked if I would go with his ship as far as Panama to help with the last minute details. My two week leave of absence from a challenging State Department position was hastily extended. (Actually, I never did return to it.) My suitcase contained little more than a good suit, a good dress, nylon stockings and high heeled shoes. Little did I realize this was the beginning of a series of events that led me to be the first American woman to set foot on the earth’s seventh Continent and to spend my third and fourth wedding anniversaries there.”
Helen Josephine Sanborn
Birth: 1857; Maine
Occupation: Translator; Co-founder of the Instituto Internacional in Madrid, Spain
Notable journeys: Accompanied her father on a coffee-buying expedition to Guatemala in 1884 and served as his interpreter. Later helped to establish a school in Madrid where women from North America could learn Spanish.
Notable work: A Winter in Central America and Mexico, which was described as a “bright and attractive narrative by a wide-awake Boston girl” in advertising copy
Quote: “Among the scores of books constantly coming into market, the writer feels that this one has no reason for being and no claim for attention, except from the fact that it treats principally of a country and a people as yet but little known, and rarely visited or written about. The narrative is a true, unvarnished tale; and our earnest desire and hope is that it may awaken in those who read a greater interest in, and regard for, that small, remote, almost unknown republic of Guatemala, which we shall always hold in loving remembrance.”
Sigrid Schultz (pseudonym John Dickson)
Birth: January 5 or 15, 1893; Chicago, Illinois
Death: May 14, 1980; Chicago?
Occupation: War correspondent, radio reporter
Notable journeys: Spent her adolescense in Paris. In 1919, hired by the Chicago Tribune as a correspondent in Germany and reported on the rise of the Nazis through the 1920s and 1930s. Was with the U.S. Army at Normandy in 1944. Was one of the first journalists at Buchenwald and covered the Nuremburg trials.
Notable work: Germany Will Try It Again; radio stories
Quote: “If you ever tune in on a radio broadcast of a political speech and hear only the hysterial shrieks of women; if you ever go to a rally where women have just one thought in mind, to touch the coat of their political idol–then please for the sake of your country remember the example of what this same hysteria did to Germany. Step back, take a cool look at the orator, and at your fellow listeners, lest you too be engulfed in their mass excitement.”
Philippa Duke Schuyler (also known as Felipa Monterro)
Birth: August 2, 1931; New York City
Death: May 1, 1967; Da Nang, Vietnam
Occupation: Pianist, war correspondent, author, John Birch Society lecturer
Notable journeys: Toured South America, Europe and Africa (Rwanda-Urundi and South Africa) as a “musical genius” in the 1950s. Died in a helicopter crash during the Vietnam War while attempting to escort eight orphans to safety.
Notable work: Jungle Saints: Africa’s Heroic Catholic Missionaries; Good Men Die
Quote: “Aggression produces less tragedy than vacillation.”
Eliza Ruhamah Schidmore
Birth: October 14, 1856; Clinton, Iowa (spent childhood in Madison, Wisconsin)
Death: November 3, 1928; Geneva, Switzerland
Occupation: Writer, photographer, geographer, first female National Geographic board member and probably first woman to have photos published in the magazine
Notable journeys: In 1883, visited Alaska and was one of the first tourists to accidentally sail into Glacier Bay. Between 1885 and 1922, regularly accompanied her brother, a career diplomat, on assignments in the Far East and wrote for various publications. Visited Japan several times, as well as Java, China, and India.
Notable work: Jinrikisha Days in Japan; Java, the Garden of the East; China, the Long-Lived Empire; Winter India; As the Hague Ordains. Planted the iconic cherry trees in Washington, D.C., in 1885. A couple of her photos.
Quote: “That order of tourist known as the ‘globe-trotter’ is not a welcome apparition to the permanent foreign resident. His generous and refined hospitality has been so often abused, and its recipients so often show a half-contemptuous condescension to their remote and uncomprehended hosts, that letters of introduction are looked upon with dread.”
May French Sheldon
Birth: May 10, 1848; Bridgewater, Pennsylvania
Death: 1936; London
Occupation: Novelist, essayist, translator, anthropologist, co-founder of a publishing house, Royal Geographic Society fellow
Notable journeys: Traveled alone to Africa in 1891 and circumnavigated Lake Chala. Returned to the Congo in 1903, visited Liberia in 1905.
Notable work: Sultan to Sultan: Adventures Among the Masai and Other Tribes of East Africa
Quote: “Somehow the more I dispassionately contemplated my venture, reviewing the pros and cons, the more I was convinced that I should accomplish something worth the greatest hardships and indefatigable output of force and endeavor requisite … It was like gathering one’s self up to enter an arena as a combatant.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Birth: November 12, 1815; Johnstown, New York
Death: October 26, 1902; New York City
Occupation: Women’s rights activist
Notable journeys: While on her honeymoon, traveled to London in June 1840 to attend the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, where she Lucretia Mott, who inspired Stanton to strengthen her commitment to equality. The two discussed the idea of a women’s rights convention in America, which eventually became the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, a pivotal moment in the formal organization of the suffrage movement.
Notable work: The Woman’s Bible; Eighty Years and More
Quote: “The history of the past is but one long struggle upward to equality.”
Death: October 25, 1882; New York City
Occupation: Painter, sculptor, biographer
Death: July 27, 1946; Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Occupation: Writer, art collector
Quote: “A creator is not in advance of his generation but he is the first of his contemporaries to be conscious of what is happening to his generation.”
Birth: November 5, 1857; Amity Township, Pennsylvania
Death: January 6, 1944; Bridgeport, Connecticut
Occupation: Teacher, biographer, “muckraker journalist”
Notable journeys: In 1890, moved to riot-plagued Paris to write about the city’s struggles with anarchists for McClure’s. Also wrote a biography about Madame Roland, a French intellectual executed during the Revolution.
Notable work: Madame Roland, A Biographical Study; All in a Day’s Work: An Autobiography; The History of the Standard Oil Company
Quote: “Imagination is the only key to the future. Without it none exists–with it all things are possible.”
Susan Brewer Thomas
Birth: 1793; Wilbraham, Massachusetts
Occupation: Teacher and administrator at several schools in Alabama and Mississippi
Notable journeys: In 1857, Thomas went alone to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Greece, and Austria. Her solo journey is significant because she was over the age of 60.
Notable work: Travels in Europe, Egypt, and Palestine 1860
Quote: “I quite agree with Miss Martineau, that one of the greatest nuisances in travelling is keeping a journal. One is far more disposed to lie down and rest, after a fatiguing ride of eight or nine hours on a camel, beneath a burning sun; then — having made a hasty toilette — to take out one’s writing’s materials. I persevered, however, and rejoice that I did so.”
Birth: July 9, 1893; Lancaster, New York
Death: January 30, 1961; Lisbon, Portugal
Occupation: War correspondent, radio journalist
Notable journeys: Moved to Europe in 1920 as a freelance journalist and covered Sinn Fein in Ireland. Shortly after, named Vienna correspondent for the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Moved to Berlin in 1925 and witnessed the rise of Nazi Germany. Was the first journalist to be expelled from Germany in 1934, but remained in Europe for the rest of her life.
Notable work: I Saw Hitler!; radio stories
Quote: “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.”
Ella Mason Williams Thompson
Birth: 1841; Boston, Massachusetts
Notable journeys: In 1873, traveled across Europe with six female friends.
Notable work: Beaten Paths or, A Woman’s Vacation, published posthumously in 1889
Quote: “One must be very young and very joyful, or very old and very weary, to really squeeze any juice of delight out of that greenest of lemons, a steamer passage across the Atlantic. I know nothing to compare with it for boredom, unless it be your honeymoon when you have married for money.”
Occupation: Novelist, Christian magazine columnist
Notable journeys: Around 1870, completed an extensive grand tour of Europe with a friend known as “Mrs. K.” Her memoir of the trip became a notable bestseller, dubbed “One of the most bright, chatty, wide-awake books of travel ever written.”
Notable work: An American Girl Abroad, Dorothy’s Experience
Quote: “[The] opportunity of coming face to face with the people in whose country you chance to be, of hearing and answering their strange questions in regard to our government, our manners and customs, as well as in displaying our own ignorance in regard to their institutions, in giving information and assistance when it is in our power, and in gratefully receiving the same from others,—all this constitutes one of the greatest pleasures of journeying.”
Aloha Wanderwell (Idris Welsh, Idris Hall, Aloha Baker)
Birth: October 13, 1906; Winnipeg, Manitoba
Death: June 4, 1996; Newport Beach, California
Occupation: Writer, explorer, pilot, filmmaker
Notable journeys: With her family, followed her stepfather to Europe during WWI, where they traveled extensively in England, Belgium, and France; in 1922 at age 16, answered an ad to join a stunt team that attempted to travel the world in a series of Ford cars; completed a second driving tour across 43 African countries from 1926-1928, using banana grease as oil; became a seaplane pilot in 1930 and went to Paraguay to document the Bororo tribe.
Notable work: To See the World By Car (film); Car and Camera Around the World (film); Call to Adventure (memoir); a photography collection
Quote: “Remember: posture, bravery, humilité, and the Family Motto: `To Per-se-vere.’”
Ida B. Wells
Birth: July 16, 1862; Holly Springs, Mississippi
Death: March 25, 1931; Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Activist, teacher, writer, editor
Notable journeys: Traveled to Great Britain in 1893 to give lectures on lynching in the United States, but made so little money she almost couldn’t pay for her trip home. Returned in 1894 and more successfully raised funds to combat lynching. Also became the first African American woman to be paid by a “mainstream” newspaper (Chicago’s Daily Inter-Ocean) as a foreign correspondent during the second tour.
Notable work: Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases; The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Causes of Lynching in the United States
Quote: “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”
Birth: April 13, 1909; Jackson, Mississippi
Death: July 23, 2001; Jackson, Mississippi
Occupation: Writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1973
Notable journeys: With money from a Guggenheim award, went to Europe for the first time in the fall of 1949, and Venice became a particularly important destination for her. Visited multiple times between 1949 and 1954, and was inspired to write “The Burning.” Went to England and Ireland for four months in 1951 and spent the summer of 1954 lecturing at Cambridge and traveling through Edinburgh, Wales, and County Cork.
Notable work: The Optimist’s Daughter, The Robber Bridegroom, and several other novels and short story collections
Quote: “Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.”
Elizabeth Bisland Whetmore
Birth: February 11, 1861; St. Mary Parish, Louisiana
Death: January 6, 1929; Charlottesville; Virginia
Occupation: Poet, journalist, novelist
Notable journeys: Raced Nellie Bly to set a record for circumnavigating the world in 1889. Lost to Bly by four days.
Notable work: In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World; A Candle of Understanding
Quote: “The record of the race, hitherto accepted as the truth about ourselves, has been the story of facts and conditions as the male saw them – or wished to see them … No secret has been so well-kept as the secret of what women have thought about life.”
Birth: circa 1753; present-day Gambia or Senegal
Death: December 5, 1784; Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Poet; slave laborer from 1761 until her emancipation in 1778
Notable journeys: Departed for London on May 8, 1771, accompanied by her master’s son. Was welcomed by several public figures (including Benjamin Franklin) and found patrons for her work. After a court battle in Boston to prove she was in fact the author of her first volume of poetry, it was published in London in 1773.
Notable work: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral; On Being Brought from Africa to America
Quote: “The world is a severe schoolmaster, for its frowns are less dangerous than its smiles and flatteries, and it is a difficult task to keep in the path of wisdom.”
Fanny Bullock Workman
Birth: January 8, 1859; Worchester, Massachusetts
Death: January 22, 1925; Cannes, France
Occupation: Mountaineer, geographer, writer, public speaker
Notable journeys: Wrote about cycling trips in Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Algeria and India. Climbed in the Himalayas eight times over 14 years and reached 23,000 ft in 1902, setting a women’s world altitude record that held for decades.
Notable work: Two Summers in the Ice-Wilds of Eastern Karakoram
Quote: “The object of placing my full name in connection with the [Siachen Glacier] expedition … is not because I wish in any way to thrust myself forward, but solely that in the accomplishments of women, now and in the future, it should be known to them and stated in print that a woman was the initiator and special leader of this expedition. When, later, woman occupies her acknowledged position as an individual worker in all fields, as well as those of exploration, no such emphasis of her work will be needed; but that day has not fully arrived, and at present it behooves women, for the benefit of their sex, to put what they do, at least, on record.”