Who were some of the key women of medieval times? Women were often ignored by medieval historians unless they were daughters, wives or mothers of great kings, or they were saints. But a few women of the Middle Ages come down to our memory, despite the omissions of the historians. Check this list for a dozen well-known or powerful women of medieval Europe, with plenty of links to more information and many more women of medieval times.
Before women had the vote, officially they were relegated to the domestic sphere and excluded formally from the political or public sphere. These are key women involved in the woman suffrage movement who stand out as influential, pivotal and memorable. If you're looking for a Women's History Month theme, honoring these women would be one great place to start. The woman suffrage movement (its name at the time, though today it's referred to more often as the women's suffrage movement) was important in winning full citizenship recognition for women.
The women on this list made a name for themselves as artists using the medium of photography. Their photographs often speak of the times in which they lived, and several of the women photographers specialized in photographing people on the margins. What would we think of the Great Depression without the photographs of Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White? Others, like Annie Leibovitz, depicted celebrities in memorable ways, or like Anne Geddes, are known for their work that includes digital manipulation.
Basic historical literacy includes knowing these powerful women who ruled, from ancient times just into the 20th century. An exhibit might highlight these women from different times and places and with quite different reputations.
Read more: Ancient Women Rulers | Medieval Queens, Empresses, and Women Rulers | Women Rulers of the Early Modern Period (1600-1750) | Women Rulers of the Eighteenth Century | Women Rulers of the Nineteenth Century | Women Prime Ministers and Presidents: 20th Century
In 2009, a survey reported that 65% of Americans could not name a single woman scientist. A BBC survey in 2010 showed similar results. This list, while not exhaustive, includes many of the women whose contributions to the world through science are worthy of remembering. If a similar survey is taken in another ten years, will it still be so few who can name any women in science?
While the field of mathematics was largely closed to women until the twentieth century, some women nevertheless made important contributions. Meet a few of these women -- and in your women's history celebration, communicate that women can and do, indeed, excel in mathematics.
Writing was one of the first professions women gained celebrity in, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. But there have been women writers through the ages, from ancient times to today. Featuring some of the women from the ancient and medieval periods is an excellent way to introduce some exceptional women who proved that women could make it in a field largely closed to them.
8. American First Ladies
Wives of American presidents have had a special place in history. Not elected to office, they've nevertheless had expectations on them. From the time of Martha Washington, the First Lady (though the name came later) was expected to play hostess, though not all did. Learn more about the interesting women who've held this non-elective office, appointed, in essence, by their husbands.
A friend of Alfred Nobel was a leader in the international peace movement in the 1890s. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905, after several other awards were given. Can you name the women who've won the Nobel Peace Prize, and what they won it for doing?
While women have barely broken the glass ceiling in business, and still lag behind men if you count heads of Fortune 500 companies, a few women have made their mark in the business world. Honoring their accomplishments is a way to recognize potential in all women.