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Amazing women from history you might not have heard of

(22 Posts)
KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 08-Mar-14 11:49:06

Hullo folks,

Today is International Women's Day - hurrah! Inspired by a rather brilliant thread you guys started, asking for stories of women from history who had been forgotten, we've created a page honouring a few of these remarkable women.

<climbs on feminist high horse>

In the spirit of IWD and the thousands of women all over the world who have fought, and continue to fight for the rights we enjoy today, please do enjoy and share the page. We'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and do keep your suggestions coming - there are so many fascinating women who's stories deserve to be heard.

<rides feminist high horse triumphantly into the sunset>

legoplayingmumsunite Sat 08-Mar-14 14:40:33

Preen My choice is on the list. Really interesting, diverse list and the long list is fascinating as well. Someone needs to write a book about them all so little girls know they can do anything.

Loadsofthingstodo Sat 08-Mar-14 16:15:19

The Two Rosas

Rosa Luxembourg a classic and honest early socialist who was murdered and chucked in a canal, but is buried in a grave in what was E Berlin.

and more celebrated..Rosa Parks.

JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 16:21:22

Sophie Scholl.

Executed at the age of 21 by the Nazis for distributing anti-war material.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Sat 08-Mar-14 19:50:46

I've been researching a woman who was apparently an early doctor in the UK. Her name was Mary Jones TURNER née HUME born c1840, and she's listed in the 1871 census as "Doctor of Medicine".

I posted a bit more about her here: Help me find this amazing historical woman. I can't be absolutely sure the census entry is not an error, but I'd love to know more about her.

I do know quite a lot about her sister-in-law, another pioneering medical figure. Ellen Frances COURT, born c1854 Staffordshire, emigrated to Australia, where she married Mary's brother Henry HUME. It's believed she started her nursing training in the 1880s, working for a Dr Leo Marks in Brisbane. When the family moved to rural Peachester QLD, she learned to ride side-saddle so she could do the rounds of her patients between Beerwah, Maleny Woodford and Kilcoy. When registration began in Queensland in 1912, we know she registered as a midwife. After Henry died, she turned the top floor of the family house into a bush hospital, where she continued nursing until the house was destroyed by a tornado in 1834. She was 80 when she retired.

There's a picture of her here.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Sat 08-Mar-14 19:52:07

A cyclone in 1934, I should have said.

Yetsofar Sat 08-Mar-14 22:47:13

Emilie Schindler. She did as much, if not more than her husband for the Jews and yet has almost no recognition in the film and mainstream history channels.

GarthsUncle Sat 08-Mar-14 22:51:16


When you said, "you guys", you meant, "you sisters", right?


<saddles up higher horse>

frecklyspeckly Sun 09-Mar-14 21:24:31

Eleanor Rathbone: campaigner for social reform, and the reason why the primary caregiver, gets the family allowance regardless of their employment status and always has done, since it's introduction.

frecklyspeckly Sun 09-Mar-14 21:32:53

MysticMugBug Mon 10-Mar-14 01:31:21,_1st_Baroness_Burdett-Coutts

Angela Burdett Coutts, relation of famous bank owner, Coutts.
The fortune she inherited was largely donated by her so that impoverished children in the Victorian era could receive a better education.

Katacharin Mon 10-Mar-14 09:36:26

Hi, I love the list!

I've just set up a new online project which I thought you might be interested in. (Also launched on IWD!)

Sheroes of History is a new blog and podcast which will shine a spotlight on amazing heroines of the past! From women whose names you may have heard, to those whose stories are less well known.

History has overwhelmingly been written by men, about men. There are a handful of amazing women we have heard of, but there are so many more whose inspiring stories have gone untold. I believe that young girls especially need more rolemodels to look up to: Sheroes who will show them that they can be whatever they want to be; that they can change the world; that their actions can make a difference and that girls can be superheroes too.

Sheroes of History aims to be inspiring, informative and inclusive, celebrating remarkable women from all walks of life.

I'm hoping that as well as adults using the blog/podcast it will be accessed by younger women & girls too - I'm aiming for the language used on the blog to be as accessible and easy to understand as possible. In the long run I hope to use the stories gathered on the blog to inspire other resources & events specifically aimed at younger girls.

Please check out the blog at

There is also a Facebook page ( and you can follow on twitter @SheroesHistory

I would be so grateful if this is something you would be able to share. I'm hoping for people to get involved and contribute to the blog, telling us about their own historical Sheroes.

I will be sharing the mumsnet page via Sheroes of History too!

Thanks so much, Naomi Wilcox-Lee

HelloBoys Mon 10-Mar-14 15:47:44

Noor Inayat Khan - Allied SOE agent awarded George Cross in WW2.

HelloBoys Mon 10-Mar-14 15:50:16

Is Joan of Arc too famous?!

Margaret Clitherow - crushed to death - English saint and was crushed for harbouring Catholic priests.

HelloBoys Mon 10-Mar-14 15:54:30

JeanSeberg - I read about Sophie Scholl recently such a barbaric execution and how the Germans treated their own for distributing anti Nazi propaganda - disgusting behaviour.

JeanSeberg Mon 10-Mar-14 15:58:06

Hello Yes it's an incredible story isn't it.

There's a film "The White Rose" about their story.

Awks Mon 10-Mar-14 19:27:27

Gertrude Bell (1868 - 1926) was a traveller, archaeologist, politician, spy, and author. She was a woman so far ahead of her time it is actually quite unbelievable. She worked with TE Lawrence in establishing the states of Jordan and Iraq and was also Secretary of the British Anti Suffrage League. An absolutely amazing woman and a hero to me

BudsBeginingSpringinSight Mon 10-Mar-14 19:38:19

Nancy Astor - 1st woman MP in UK, and I have a soft spot for Emma Hart, nee Hamilton, mistress of Nelson.

Bunnyjo Mon 10-Mar-14 21:19:56

Rosalind Franklin - I am sure many, many, MANY people will have heard of her, but a huge number of people won't.

Her x ray diffraction image was key to Crick and Watson formulating the now infamous 1953 DNA model. Crick and Watson, along with Pauling were previously working, independently, on the understanding that the nucleic bases were outside of the helix and sugar phosphate backbones were on the inside. Crucially, Franklin's report convinced Crick and Watson that the opposite was true. The diffraction was shown to them without Franklin's knowledge or permission, by Maurice Wilkins. Her unknowing contribution was only hinted at by Crick and Watson in their publication.

Sadly, she died at the age of 37 - a mere 2 years older than I am now sad. As she died 4 years before Crick and Watson received the Nobel Prize for Medicine, we will never know if Franklin's contribution would have entitled her to be the third recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine that year - my guess is no...

Bunnyjo Mon 10-Mar-14 21:33:54

However, Wilkins did receive the Nobel Prize that year alongside Crick and Watson!

Another amazing woman is Ester Lederberg, who lived under the shadow of her husband Joshua Lederberg. She discovered the replica plating technique amongst many other discoveries. Her husband received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1958, she never received such an accolade...

2Bornot2B Mon 10-Mar-14 21:41:27

For many years I knew a charming, pretty, petite & modest friend of my grandmother. This is her obituary:

Historically, not one of the greatest women ; but surely one of the best...

LottieJenkins Tue 11-Mar-14 22:31:33

2Bornot2B I cant look at your post!
Having just seen CTM I am going to add Dame Cecily Saunders!

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