Virginia Women in History

The Library of Virginia is working to add biographies of those women honored as Virginia Women in History between 2000 and 2005, the first years of the program which was managed by the Virginia Foundation for Women.

Mollie Holmes Adams (1881–1973), King William County
Upper Mattaponi Leader
Mollie Holmes Adams helped preserve the Upper Mattaponi heritage by passing on the almost-lost art of feather weaving and recording her herbal remedies.

Pauline Adams (1874–1957), Norfolk
Suffragist

Clara Leach Adams-Ender (b. 1939–), Prince William County
Chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps

Rebecca Adamson (b. 1949–)

Lucy Addison (1861–1937), Roanoke
Educator
A pioneering educator, Lucy Addison developed the first accredited high school for Roanoke's African American community.

Ella Graham Agnew (March 18, 1871–February 5, 1958)

Mary C. Alexander (March 2, 1893–April 16, 1955), Lynchburg
Aviator
One of the first women licensed pilots in Virginia, Mary C. Alexander owned and operated a scheduled air service between Norfolk and Washington, D.C., during the 1930s.

Susie May Ames (1888–1969), Accomack County
Historian
Susie M. Ames's writings made major contributions to understanding the social and cultural life of seventeenth-century Virginia.

Louise A. Reeves Archer (October 23, 1893–April 1, 1948), Vienna
Educator
A highly respected teacher and principal, Louise Reeves Archer inspired her students through her dedication and commitment to their education.

Grace Arents (1848–June 20, 1926)

Nancy Langhorne Astor (May 19, 1879–May 2, 1964)

Pearl Bailey (1918–1990)

Mary Julia Baldwin (October 4, 1829–July 1, 1897)

Janie Porter Barrett (August 9, 1865–August 27, 1948)

Katherine Harwood Waller Barrett (January 24, 1858–February 23, 1925), Stafford County
Reformer

Monica Beltran, Prince William County
Bronze Star Medal recipient
As a result of her heroic actions while under attack in Iraq, Monica Beltran became the first woman in the Virginia National Guard to receive a Bronze Star Medal for Valor.

Sister Marie Majella Berg (July 7, 1916–April 5, 2004), Arlington County
College President

Mary Berkeley Minor Blackford (December 2, 1802–September 15, 1896), Fredericksburg
Antislavery Activist
Appalled by the violence of slavery and its effect on society, Mary Minor Blackford became a vocal antislavery supporter.

Anna Whitehead Bodeker (ca. July 26, 1826–October 26, 1904)

Eleanor Bontecou (1891–1976), Arlington County
Attorney
Eleanor Bontecou overcame debilitating illness to combat discrimination against Japanese Americans during World War II, study the treatment of conscientious objectors, and counsel federal government employees accused of subversive activities.

John-Geline MacDonald Bowman (March 30, 1890–April 14, 1946), Richmond
Business Executive

Rosa Dixon Bowser (January 7, 1855–February 7, 1931)

Margaret Brent (c. 1601–1671)

Lucy Goode Brooks (1818–1900), Richmond
Civic Leader
Having experienced as a slave the devastation of separated families, Lucy Goode Brooks founded the Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans.

Mary Willing Byrd (1740–1814), Charles City County
Planter

Nancy Melvina "Vinnie" Caldwell (August 4, 1868–February 11, 1956), Carroll County
Legislator
When elected to the House of Delegates in 1927, Nancy "Vinnie" Caldwell became one of the earliest women to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

Christiana Burdett Campbell (ca. 1723–1792), Willamsburg
Innkeeper
Christiana Campbell became one of Williamsburg's most prominent and successful tavern keepers during the Revolutionary era.

Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell (December 2, 1902–January 9, 2004), Arlington
Public Television Pioneer

Elizabeth Ambler Brent Carrington (March 11, 1765–February 15, 1842), Richmond
Civic Leader
Concerned about the plight of orphaned girls, Elizabeth Ambler Brent Carrington helped establish the Female Humane Association of the City of Richmond at a time when women rarely played a role in public affairs.

Maybelle Addington Carter (1909–1978), Scott County
Musician

Willa Cather (December 7, 1873–April 24, 1947)

Betty Sams Christian (1922–2006), Richmond
Business executive and philanthropist
A president of Central Coca-Cola Bottling Company for more than twenty years, Betty Sams Christian enriched her community through philanthropy.

Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932–March 5, 1963)

Cockacoeske (fl. 1656–1686), Middle Peninsula
Pamunkey Chief

Naomi Silverman Cohn (April 15, 1888–October 20, 1982), Richmond
Civic Activist
Activist Naomi Silverman Cohn advocated social legislation to improve the lives of women and children.

Ann Compton (b. 1947–), Roanoke
News Correspondent
An award-winning journalist, Ann Compton broke new ground as the first woman White House correspondent for a national news organization.

Caroline Bradby Cook (ca. 1839–), King William County
Pamunkey leader and unionist

Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868–1940), Smyth County
Entrepreneur and Lutheran Lay Leader

Hannah Lee Corbin (February 6, 1728–by October 7, 1782)

Katie Couric (b. 1957–)

Christine Mann Darden (b. 1942–)

Caitlyn Day (b. 1986–)

Jennie Serepta Dean (April 15, 1848–May 3, 1913), Manassas
Educator

Elizabeth Ashburn Duke (b. 1952–), Virginia Beach
Banker
As a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, banker Elizabeth Duke helped implement the Federal Reserve System's response to the financial panic of 2008.

Elizabeth Bray Allen Smith Elizabeth Bray Allen Smith (ca. 1692–February 22, 1774), Isle of Wight County
Planter and Philanthropist
At a time when married women had few rights, Elizabeth Bray Allen Smith Stith used her own funds to establish a free school for poor children.

Mary Ann Elliott (b. 1943–)

Claudia Emerson (1957–), Fredericksburg
Poet

Sarah Lee Fain (November 23, 1888–July 20, 1962)

JoAnn Falletta (b. 1954–), Norfolk
Musician
A dynamic and compelling conductor, JoAnn Falletta is an advocate for contemporary music.

Drew Gilpin Faust (1947–), Clarke County
Historian and President of Harvard University

Rachel Findlay (ca. 1750–after August 17, 1820), Wythe County
Principal in a Freedom Suit
The granddaughter of an illegally enslaved Indian woman, Rachel Findlay successfully sued for her freedom and ensured the freedom of many of her descendants.

Emily White Fleming (1855–1941), Fredericksburg
Preservationist
Emily White Fleming preserved numerous Fredericksburg landmarks for future generations.

Pearl Fu, Roanoke
Civic Leader
By directing the annual Local Colors festival, Pearl Fu celebrates the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Roanoke area.

Ethel Bailey Furman (1893–1976), Richmond
Architect
Ethel Bailey Furman was one of the earliest African American women to work as an architect in Virginia.

Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell (b. 1940–), Lynchburg
Educator

Mary Jeffery Galt (1844–1922), Norfolk
Preservationist

Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943–), Blacksburg
Poet
Nikki Giovanni uses her poetry to raise awareness of social issues, particularly those of gender and race.

Ellen Glasgow (April 22, 1873–November 21, 1945)

Providencia Velazquez Gonzalez (1917–), Dale City
Community activist
By striving to improve the lives of those around her, Providencia "Provi" Velazquez Gonzalez serves as an example to her community.

Joann Hess Grayson (1948–), Harrisonburg
Psychologist and Advocate for Abused Children

Bessie Blount Griffin (November 24, 1914–December 30, 2009)

Ruth Coles Harris (b. 1928–), Richmond
Business Professor
The first African American woman to become a certified public accountant in Virginia, Ruth Coles Harris was also the founding director of the Sydney Lewis School of Business at Virginia Union University.

Edythe C. Harrison (1934–), Norfolk
Civic Leader
Edythe C. Harrison's love of music led her to help found the Virginia Opera Association.

Anne Makemie Holden (1702–1788)

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906–January 1, 1992), Arlington County
Computer Science pioneer and Rear Admiral

Nora Houston (1883–1942)

Mary Draper Ingles (ca. 1732–1815), New River Valley
Frontierswoman

Annabelle Ravenscroft Gibson Jenkins (1827–1901)

Sheila Crump Johnson (1949–), Loudoun County
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Frances Benjamin Johnston (January 15, 1864–May 16, 1952)

Mary Johnston (1870–1936)

Sarah Garland Boyd Jones (February 1866–May 11, 1905), Richmond
Physician

Thomasina Jordan (1940–May 23, 1999)

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly (February 1818–May 26, 1907), Dinwiddie County
Seamstress and Author

Christine Herter Kendall (August 25, 1890–June 22, 1981), Bath County
Artist and Patron of the Arts
An accomplished artist and musician, Christine Herter Kendall cofounded the Garth Newel Music Center in Bath County.

Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy (1945–), Richmond
Judge
The first woman to serve on the State Corporation Commission and on the Supreme Court of Virginia, Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy opened doors for Virginia women in the legal profession.

Lillian Lincoln Lambert, Mechanicsville
Entrepreneur and Author
Overcoming racial and gender prejudices, Lillian Lincoln Lambert became the first African American woman to earn an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Mildred Delores Jeter Loving (July 22, 1939–May 2, 2008), Caroline County
Principal in a 1967 Civil Rights Turning Point
As a plaintiff in the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter Loving helped legalize interracial marriage in Virginia and the United States.

Frances Culpeper Stephens Berkeley Ludwell (bap. 1634–ca. 1695), James City County
Political leader
As a leader of the Green Spring faction, Frances Culpeper Stephens Berkeley Ludwell influenced the politics of seventeenth-century Virginia.

Dolley Madison (May 20, 1768–July 12, 1849)

Bessie Niemeyer Marshall (1884–1960), Petersburg
Botanical Illustrator
Bessie Niemeyer Marshall created detailed watercolors of plants as part of a federally funded project that rescued a Petersburg park.

Janis Martin (1940–2007), Danville
Singer and Composer
Known as the "Female Elvis," Janis Martin was a pioneer rockabilly star.

Mary Tyler Freeman Cheek McClenahan (April 6, 1917–January 16, 2005), Richmond
Civic Leader

Sharyn McCrumb (1948–), Roanoke County
Writer
The award-winning novels of Sharyn Elaine Arwood McCrumb celebrate the richness and variety of Appalachian culture.

Lillian Ward McDaniel (February 4, 1902–January 29, 1981)

Dorothy Shoemaker McDiarmid (October 22, 1906–June 8, 1994), Fairfax County
Legislator
As a member of the House of Delegates for more than twenty years, Dorothy S. McDiarmid championed the rights of women and children through legislation.

Elizabeth Peet McIntosh, Woodbridge
Intelligence agent
As an intelligence agent with the Office of Strategic Services, Elizabeth Peet worked in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II.

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (b. 1961–), Haymarket
Media Executive and Olympic Gold Medalist

Patricia Buckley Moss (1933–), Waynesboro
Artist and philanthropist
Patricia Buckley Moss uses the considerable commercial success she has earned as an artist to aid child-related charities and promote the use of the arts to help children with learning disabilities succeed in school and in life.

Mary-Cooke Branch Munford (September 15, 1865–July 3, 1938), Richmond
Community Activist

Opossunoquonuske (d. 1610), Chesterfield County
Appamattuck Leader

Anne Dobie Peebles (July 2, 1922–July 12, 2012)

Rebekah Dulaney Peterkin (September 24, 1849–July 26, 1891), Richmond
Philanthropist
Concerned about the plight of the working poor in Richmond, Rebekah Peterkin organized Sheltering Arms Hospital to provide free medical care.

Vivian W. Pinn (b. 1941–), Lynchburg
Pathologist and Women's Health Advocate
Vivian W. Pinn works to expand women's health programs and leadership roles for women in the field of medical research.

Pocahantas (died 1617)

Theresa Pollak (August 13, 1899–September 18, 2002)

Barbara Johns Powell (1935–1991)

Cleo Elaine Powell (b. 1957–), Brunswick County
Judge
The first Afircan American woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia, Cleo Elaine Powell encourages young people to create a culture of diversity and respect for the law.

Elizabeth Inez Parks Pruitt (b. 1962–), Tangier Island
Physician Assistant
Elizabeth Inez Pruitt fills a vital need in the isolated community of Tangier by serving as its primary health care provider.

Orleana Hawks Puckett (d. 1939), Patrick and Carroll Counties
Midwife
Living in a rural mountain region with few doctors, Orleana Hawks Puckett became a midwife and successfully delivered more than 1,000 babies in her community.

Mary Randolph (1762–1828), Chesterfield County and Richmond
Writer

Virginia Estelle Randolph (1874–1958), Henrico County
Educator

Jessie Manfield Rattley (May 4, 1929–March 2, 2001), Newport News

G. Anne Nelson Richardson (b. 1956–), King and Queen County
Rappahannock Chief

Clementina Rind (died September 25, 1774), Williamsburg
Printer

Felicia Warburg Rogan, Albermarle County
Vinter
Felicia Warburg Rogan's efforts to promote Virginia's wine industry have earned her the title "the First Lady of Virginia Wine."

Isabel Wood Rogers (1924–2007), Richmond
Presbyterian educator
As an educator and author, Isabel Wood Rogers advocated that Christians take an active and responsible interest in the secular world.

Kate Mason Rowland (1840–1916), Richmond
Writer
Kate Mason Rowland is best known for her biography of her great-great-granduncle George Mason.

Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell (1749–1825), Saltville
Methodist Lay Leader
Setting a charitable example, Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell fostered the fledgling Methodist Church in southwestern Virginia as a devoted adherent and through material and compassionate support of the church.

Deborah A. "Debbie" Ryan (b. 1952–), Albemarle County
Basketball Coach and Cancer Treatment Advocate
Debbie Ryan turned the University of Virginia women's basketball team into a national power and currently campaigns for research into pancreatic cancer.

Eva Mae Fleming Scott (b. 1926–), Amelia County
Legislator
A pharmacist, Eva Fleming Scott was the first woman elected to the Senate of Virginia.

Judith Shatin, Charlottesville
Composer
Judith Shatin champions music that blurs the line between acoustic and digital.

Jean Miller Skipwith (1748–), Mecklenburg County
Book Collector
Jean Miller Skipwith, Lady Skipwith, assembled one of the largest libraries owned by a Virginia woman early in the nineteenth century.

Lee Marshall Smith (b. 1944–)

Elizabeth “Annie” Snyder (1921–2002)

Annie Bannister Spencer (February 6, 1882–July 27, 1975)

Queena Stovall (1888–1980), Lynchburg and Amherst County
Artist
Taking up painting early in her sixties, Queena Stovall created works that recalled her life in rural Virginia and earned her the title the "Grandma Moses of Virginia."

Alice Jackson Stuart (1913–2001), Richmond
principal in a 1935 civil rights turning point
By applying to the University of Virginia to pursue graduate studies, Alice Jackson challenged Virginia's laws of segregation.

Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (December 21, 1830–June 3, 1922), Amelia County
Writer

Mary Sue Terry (1947–), Patrick County
Attorney General

Sally Louise Tompkins (November 9, 1833–July 25, 1916), Richmond
Hospital Administrator

Edith Turner (Wané Roonseraw) (ca. 1754–1838), Southampton County
Nottoway (Cheroenhaka) chief
Edith Turner, chief of the Nottoway, successfully navigated nineteenth-century Nottoway and Anglo-American societies while she strove to keep the tribe’s children on the reservation.

Lila Meade Valentine (February 4, 1865–July 14, 1921)

Marian A. Van Landingham (1937–), Alexandria
Civic Leader
Marian A. Van Landingham founded a one-of-a-kind art center in Alexandria.

Elizabeth Van Lew (October 15, 1818–September 25, 1900), Richmond
Spy

Mary Belvin Wade (1951–2003)

Maggie Lena Mitchell Walker (July 15, 1864–December 15, 1934), Richmond
Entrepreneur and Civil Rights Leader

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731–May 22, 1802), Fairfax County
First Lady

Camilla Ella Williams (October 18, 1919–January 29 2012), Danville
Singer

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (October 15, 1872–December 28, 1961)

Stoner Winslett (b. 1958–), Richmond
Artistic Director and Choreographer
As artistic director and choreographer, Stoner Winslett has built the Richmond Ballet into a nationally recognized professional dance company.

Karenne Wood (b. 1960–), Fluvanna County
Virginia Indian Scholar and Advocate
As director of the Virginia Indian Program, Karenne Wood ensures that the history, traditions, and contributions of Virginia's Indians are incorporated into Virginia's historical narrative.


Library of Virginia
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