American Female Social Reformers

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 1 
Harriet Tubman
(Abolitionist and Political activist)

Harriet Tubman
43
Birthdate: 1822
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dorchester County, Maryland, United States
Died: March 10, 1913

Born to parents who were bonded slaves, Harriet Tubman life was a difficult one from the very beginning. Yet with her remarkable courage and determination, she not only escaped slavery herself, but also led other enslaved people to freedom. The prominent political activist and abolitionist was also the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War.

 2 
Ida B. Wells
(Journalist)

Ida B. Wells
4
Birthdate: July 16, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 25, 1931
Civil rights and women's rights activist Ida B. Wells is remembered for speaking up against the lynching of Blacks in the U.S. She was born a slave and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. She later co-founded the NAACP. She also co-owned and wrote for Memphis Free Speech and Headlight.

 3 
Margaret Sanger
(Activist)

Margaret Sanger
8
Birthdate: September 14, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Corning, New York, United States
Died: September 6, 1966

Margaret Sanger was an American writer and sex educator. She is credited with popularizing the term birth control. A birth control activist, Sanger established the first birth control clinic in America. She also set up organizations that later became the well-known non-profit organization Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She also played a key role in legalizing contraception in the US.

Jane Addams
14
Birthdate: September 6, 1860
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cedarville, Illinois, U.S.
Died: May 21, 1935

Jane Addams was an American social worker, reformer, settlement activist, public administrator, sociologist, and author. Addams was a prominent leader in the history of women's suffrage and social work in the USA. She is credited with co-founding one of America's most popular settlement houses, the Hull House in Chicago. Addams is also credited with co-founding the American Civil Liberties Union.

 5 
Dorothea Dix
(Social Reformer)

Dorothea Dix
10
Birthdate: April 4, 1802
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Maine, US
Died: July 17, 1887

Dorothea Dix was an American advocate who fought for the welfare of the mentally ill. She helped create the first generation of mental asylums in the United States. Dix also played a key role during the Civil War, serving as a Superintendent of Army Nurses. In 1979, Dorothea Dix was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 6 
Lucretia Mott
(Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Social Reformer)

Lucretia Mott
3
Birthdate: January 3, 1793
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: November 11, 1880

Lucretia Mott was an American women's rights activist, abolitionist, and social reformer. Mott played a major role in the events leading up to the Seneca Falls Convention, the first gathering supporting women's rights in the USA. Lucretia Mott's work influenced Elizabeth Cady Stanton whom she mentored. In 1983, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 7 
Florence Kelley
(Social Reformer)

Florence Kelley
5
Birthdate: September 12, 1859
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 17, 1932

Florence Kelley was an American political and social reformer who pioneered the term wage abolitionism. Kelley's work for the minimum wage, children's rights, and eight-hour workdays are widely acclaimed today. After serving as the National Consumers League’s first general secretary, Florence Kelley helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.    

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 8 
Abigail Folger
(Social worker)

Abigail Folger
3
Birthdate: August 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: August 9, 1969

 9 

Mary White Ovington
3
Birthdate: April 11, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 15, 1951

Mary White Ovington was an American journalist and suffragist. She is best remembered as one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Throughout her life, Mary White Ovington remained active in the fight for women's suffrage in the United States of America. She also wrote several articles and books including an autobiography. 

 10 

Hannah Whitall Smith
2
Birthdate: February 7, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 1, 1911

 11 
Grace Abbott
(Social Worker)

Grace Abbott
2
Birthdate: November 17, 1878
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Grand Island, Nebraska, United States
Died: June 19, 1939

Grace Abbott is best remembered for her efforts toward securing reformation of child labor laws and the betterment of the work conditions of immigrant laborers. After her graduation, she moved to Hull House, where she focused on social work. She later penned books such as The Immigrant and the Community.

 12 
Abigail Kelley Foster
(Social Reformer)

Abigail Kelley Foster
6
Birthdate: January 15, 1811
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pelham, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 14, 1887

Born into a Quaker household, Abigail Kelley Foster later grew up to be a teacher and a strong anti-slavery advocate. Both she and her husband, Stephen Symonds Foster, also worked on women’s rights issues. She was also named to the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 13 
Ellen Gates Starr
(Social Reformer)

Ellen Gates Starr
2
Birthdate: March 19, 1859
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Illinois, United States
Died: February 10, 1940

Ellen Gates Starr is best remembered for co-establishing the Hull House social settlement in Chicago along with activist Jane Addams. Initially an art student, she later dedicated her life for the betterment of immigrant factory workers and reformation for child labor laws. She later retired to a Roman Catholic convent.

 14 
Amanda Smith
(Leader)

Amanda Smith
2
Birthdate: January 23, 1837
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Long Green, Maryland, United States
Died: February 24, 1915

Born into slavery, Amanda Smith later stepped into freedom after her father bought his and his family’s freedom. Starting as a domestic help, she later became a missionary and a Holiness movement leader, who invested in women’s education wholeheartedly and even established an orphanage for Black girls.

 15 
Rose Schneiderman
(Trade unionist)

Rose Schneiderman
0
Birthdate: April 6, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sawin, Poland
Died: August 11, 1972

 16 

Josephine Shaw Lowell
2
Birthdate: December 16, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 12, 1905

Best remembered for establishing the New York Consumers League, Josephine Shaw Lowell believed that charity shouldn’t just relieve people’s suffering but also help people in overcoming their misery by rehabilitating them. She was also the first female commissioner of the New York Charities Commission and campaigned for women’s rights.

 17 

Florence Jaffray Harriman
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: August 31, 1967

Born to an affluent New York banker, Florence Jaffray Harriman initially established herself as a well-known socialite. She later invested in social reform, organizing events and campaigns on child labor and related issues. She also served as an American minister to Norway during World War II.

Frances Dana Barker Gage
2
Birthdate: October 12, 1808
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Marietta, Ohio, United States
Died: November 10, 1884

Known for her involvement in various anti-slavery and women’s empowerment campaigns, Frances Dana Barker Gage was a prominent American social reformer. She was also associated with the farmers’ papers Ohio Cultivator and Field Notes. She also worked toward achieving women’s voting rights and property rights.

 19 

Mary Van Kleeck
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Glenham, New York, United States
Died: June 8, 1972

Dutch-American social reformer Mary Van Kleeck is remembered for her relentless work for female factory workers and child laborers. She also headed the department of international studies of the Russell Sage Foundation for more than 3 decades. She supported Soviet socialism and also penned books such as Creative America.

 20 

Sophonisba Breckinridge
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1866
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Died: July 30, 1948

Apart from being a prominent Progressive Era social reformer, Sophonisba Breckinridge also created history by becoming the first female to be named to the Kentucky bar and the first woman PhD holder in political science and economics at the University of Chicago. She also launched the journal Social Service Review.

 21 
Julia Lathrop
(Social worker)

Julia Lathrop
2
Birthdate: June 29, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rockford, Illinois, United States
Died: April 15, 1932

Born to a well-known lawyer, Julia Lathrop initially worked in her father’s law office and later turned into a full-fledged social reformer working on areas such as education and children’s welfare. She also created history by serving as the first director of the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

 22 
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
(Human Rights Activist)

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
1
Birthdate: May 20, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Franklin County, Kentucky, United States
Died: November 25, 1920

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge is best remembered for leading the women's suffrage movement in Kentucky. Mostly involved with campaigns related to children’s and women’s rights, she also established the Lexington Civic League, geared toward controlling child labor and upliftment of poor children. She was also associated with efforts to prevent tuberculosis.

 23 
Deborah Meier
(Educator)

Deborah Meier
1
Birthdate: April 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

A leading American scholar and educationist, Deborah Meier was the person behind the small-schools movement. Initially a kindergarten teacher, she campaigned for education for children from low-income families and also established the Central Park East school network, primarily focusing on New York’s East Harlem.

 24 

Lillie Devereux Blake
1
Birthdate: August 12, 1833
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Died: December 30, 1913

Initially a novelist, Lillie Devereux Blake later devoted her life to the cause of women’s suffrage and empowerment of women. Raised in an affluent neighborhood, she was taught in the best schools. She had taken to writing after finding herself in a financial crisis following her husband’s suicide.

 25 
Hannah G. Solomon
(Social Reformer)

Hannah G. Solomon
1
Birthdate: January 14, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 7, 1942

Born to parents who were early Jewish settlers in Chicago, Hannah G. Solomon grew up to be an iconic figure of women’s empowerment in the US. She established the National Council of Jewish Women, modeled on an elite women’s club, to bring about social change and improve the lives of women.

 26 

Ida Husted Harper
1
Birthdate: February 18, 1851
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Franklin County, Indiana, United States
Died: March 14, 1931

After getting married to an influential lawyer, Ida Husted Harper began writing for newspapers, focusing on women-centric columns. She later became an iconic figure of the American women’s suffrage movement and also penned works such as History of Woman Suffrage. She was also associated with the International Council of Women.

 27 
Barbara Deming
(Writer, Journalist)

Barbara Deming
1
Birthdate: July 23, 1917
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: August 2, 1984

Feminist social reformer Barbara Deming started her career as a firebrand journalist, writing for publications such as the New Yorker and Vogue. Obsessed with the works of Gandhi, she later started campaigning for peace and civil rights, and also formed Money for Women. She was also an open lesbian.

 28 

Katherine Dreier
1
Birthdate: September 10, 1877
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: March 29, 1952

Katherine Dreier was not just an artist but also a social reformer. Born to German immigrants in the US, she studied art as a child and later represented the women’s suffrage movement. She also co-established Société Anonyme, a hub for art collectors, and was known for her abstract art creations.

 29 

May Wright Sewall
1
Birthdate: May 27, 1844
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Greenfield, Wisconsin, United States
Died: July 22, 1920

May Wright Sewall was a social reformer committed to the causes of women's rights, education, and world peace. She was passionately involved in the woman's suffrage movement. Besides her work as a social reformer, she also founded the Girls' Classical School in Indianapolis along with her second husband. She was active in the American Peace Society in her later years. 

 30 
Lugenia Burns Hope
(Social reformer)

Lugenia Burns Hope
1
Birthdate: February 19, 1871
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: August 14, 1947

Social reformer and civil rights activist Lugenia Burns Hope is remembered for launching the social welfare association Neighborhood Union, dedicated to the upliftment of Black women. She had also worked to secure equality for Black soldiers during World War I. She was later named to the Georgia Women of Achievement.

 31 
Elisabeth Irwin
(Educator)

Elisabeth Irwin
1
Birthdate: August 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: October 16, 1942

The daughter of a cotton merchant, Elisabeth Irwin developed feminist leanings early in life. She grew up to be an educator who established Little Red School House, regarded the first progressive school of New York City. She was also an open lesbian who raised two adopted children with her partner.

Annie Turner Wittenmyer
1
Birthdate: August 26, 1827
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Adams County, Ohio, United States
Died: February 2, 1900

Annie Turner Wittenmyer is remembered for his association with the temperance movement and for supplying medical aid and food to soldiers during the Civil War. Widowed in her youth, she devoted her entire life to relief work and even headed the Iowa State Sanitary Commission.

 33 

Lizzie Black Kander
1
Birthdate: May 28, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wisconsin, United States
Died: 1940 AD

Welfare worker Lizzie Black Kander is best remembered for penning a popular cookbook, The Settlement Cookbook, which helped her raise funds for her Milwaukee settlement house and had sold over a million copies by the 1970s. She also worked to offer vocational training to women and children.

 34 
Kate Barnard
(Politician)

Kate Barnard
1
Birthdate: May 23, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Geneva, Nebraska, United States
Died: February 23, 1930

Kate Barnard made history by becoming the first female elected to be a state official in Oklahoma. She was also the first lady to hold a state-wide elective office in the US. She was also a social reformer, who was involved in causes such as compulsory education and eradication of child labor.

 35 

Kate Waller Barrett
1
Birthdate: January 24, 1857
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Falmouth, Virginia, United States
Died: February 23, 1925

Best remembered for popularizing the rescue-home movement for sex workers and unwed mothers in the US, Kate Waller Barrett led the National Florence Crittenton Mission. Although a qualified physician, she never practiced in a full-fledged manner and mostly focused on social reform. She also worked for the Black community.

 36 
Maud Nathan
(Social Worker)

Maud Nathan
1
Birthdate: October 20, 1862
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: December 15, 1946

 37 
Caroline Severance
(Social reformer)

Caroline Severance
1
Birthdate: 1820 AD
Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York, United States
Died: November 10, 1914

Reformer Caroline Severance is best known for establishing women’s clubs in the US. A champion for women’s rights and women’s suffrage, she was also an abolitionist. Along with her husband, she formed the Independent Christian Church. She was also the first female to join the Parker Fraternity Course.

 38 

Caroline Bartlett Crane
1
Birthdate: August 17, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hudson, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 24, 1935

 39 
Katherine Philips Edson
(Social Activist)

Katherine Philips Edson
0
Birthdate: January 12, 1870
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kenton, Ohio, United States
Died: November 5, 1933

 40 

Albion Fellows Bacon
0
Birthdate: April 8, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Evansville, Indiana, United States
Died: December 10, 1933

 41 
Elaine Brody
(Sociologist)

Elaine Brody
0
Birthdate: December 4, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: July 9, 2014

 42 

Martha McClellan Brown
0
Birthdate: April 16, 1838
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: August 31, 1916

 43 
Linda Gilbert
(Prison Reformer)

Linda Gilbert
0
Birthdate: May 13, 1847
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, United States
Died: October 24, 1895

 44 
Lucy Rider Meyer
(Social Worker)

Lucy Rider Meyer
0
Birthdate: September 9, 1849
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Haven, Vermont, United States
Died: March 16, 1922

 45 
Agnes Nestor
(Politician)

Agnes Nestor
0
Birthdate: June 24, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Died: December 28, 1948

Josephine Sophia White Griffing
0
Birthdate: December 18, 1814
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hebron, Connecticut, United States
Died: February 18, 1872

 47 
Alzina Stevens
(Social Reformer)

Alzina Stevens
0
Birthdate: May 27, 1849
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Parsonsfield, Maine, United States
Died: June 3, 1900

 48 
Martha P. Falconer
(Social worker)

Martha P. Falconer
0
Birthdate: March 17, 1862
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Delaware, Ohio, United States
Died: November 26, 1941

 49 
Mary Morton Kehew
(Social Reformer)

Mary Morton Kehew
0
Birthdate: September 8, 1859
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 13, 1918

 50 
Hannah Kent Schoff
(Social worker)

Hannah Kent Schoff
0
Birthdate: June 3, 1853
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 10, 1940