Six little-known women from around the world – starting with a Russian-Jewish immigrant and ending with a French former chambermaid – who contributed to first-wave feminism in the United States.

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Katharine Houghton Hepburn helped American women secure the vote and reproductive freedom. Her daughter was a four-time Oscar winner. Chances are, you know about the actress, but not the activist.

A major New York City airport is named in honor of her brother, but Gemma La Guardia Gluck’s story of surviving Ravensbrück concentration camp as the political prisoner of Adolf Eichmann unjustly exists in the shadows of history.

English author H.G. Wells envisioned a future of alien invasion and time travel. He dabbled in dystopian nightmares and conjured up mad scientists and invisible men. And, to the disgust of two of his feminist lovers, he imagined a utopia where “women are to be as free as men.”

“No nation can have grown-up ideas till it has a ruling cast of grown-up men and women; and it is possible to have a ruling caste of grown-up men and women only in a civilisation where the power of each sex is balanced by that of the other.”

Edith Wharton
Quoted in “The Lesbian and the Novelist Who Escaped the Gilded Age” (click to read)

Women played significant and important roles in the American Revolution. Many broke traditional gender roles and suffered as much as the men they served beside. Marauchie Van Orden’s bravery at the Battles of Saratoga in 1777 earned her the rank of soldier and the respect of George Washington.