As far as development is concerned, the United States has been one of the front-runners over the last few centuries. However, this development has come at a price for some people; women especially. In a world full of male chauvinists, it was difficult for women to come forward and achieve something which would make them stand out in the crowd. But some women did dare to do 'it' and today people from all-over the world idolize them.
Clara Barton was an American humanitarian and a nurse, accredited with the formation of the American Red Cross. She was born on December 25, 1821, in Massachusetts. She developed an interest in medicine at the very young age of 11 while she was nursing her ailing brother. Barton played an important role during the American Civil War by helping hundreds of wounded soldiers. In 1862, she started an agency to provide basic supplies to the wounded soldiers. In 1870, while in Europe, she came across the International Committee of Red Cross―a neutral agency formed in 1864 to provide humanitarian services to war victims.
In 1873, after returning to the United States, she started working on a project to form the American Red Cross―an organization affiliated to the ICRC. She was successful in convincing the US government of the need of having an organization which would help in times of war and natural disasters. Finally, the American Red Cross was formed on May 21, 1881, in Dansville, New York. Barton dedicated the rest of her life to extensive social work such as providing disaster relief after the Sea Islands Hurricane in 1893 and initiating help to the Ottoman Empire after the Hamidian massacres in 1896. She traveled extensively expanding the base of the American Red Cross throughout the world and opened its first headquarters in Beijing, China. Barton died on April 12, 1912, in Maryland, at the age of 90.
Eleanor Roosevelt was a prominent author, speaker, and politician born in New York on October 11, 1884. Co-founder of the Freedom House, she was a firm advocate of Civil Rights and an ardent supporter of the formation of the United Nations. Initially being tutored privately at home, Eleanor joined the Allenswood Academy in London at the age of 15. She married Franklin Roosevelt on March 17, 1905, at the age of 20. The couple gave birth to 6 children, of which one died in infancy. In 1921, when Franklin suffered a paralytic attack, Eleanor proved to be a suitable substitute for the Democrats in New York. Her active participation in the campaign ensured that Franklin Roosevelt became the 44th Governor of New York and eventually the 32nd President of the United States. Being the wife of the President, she served as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945.
During her tenure in the White House, she supported many initiatives such as the Morgenthau Plan to occupy Germany in the post-war period. Even after the death of her husband in 1945, Eleanor was very active in the United States political scene. In 1946, she was appointed as a delegate to United Nations General Assembly by President Harry Thurman. She played an important role in drafting the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt received 48 honorary degrees in her life. She died on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78, in Manhattan.
Grace Hopper, often called Amazing Grace, was an American Computer scientist and a Naval officer. She was born on December 9, 1906, in New York. She is accredited with the development of first compiler for a computer programming language. Grace attended the Hartridge School in New Jersey before joining the Vassar College, where she completed her Bachelors in Mathematics and Physics in 1928. She completed her post graduation in 1930 and her PhD in Mathematics from Yale University in 1934, before joining Vassar College as a teacher. During her tenure at Vassar College, she got a call to join the United States Navy Reserve.
After graduating in 1944, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University as a Lieutenant, junior grade. In 1949, she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) as a senior mathematician and was a part of the team which developed UNIVAC I. Grace took retirement from Navy Reserve twice, in 1966 and 1972, but was recalled on both occasions. In 1973, she was promoted to the designation of Captain, and in 1983, to the designation of Commodore by special Presidential appointment. She was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal on her retirement in 1986. After her service in navy, she joined the Digital Equipment Corporation as a senior consultant. Hopper passed away on January 1, 1992.
Helen Keller was an American author and a social activist born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Tragedy struck the Keller family when a mysterious disease left Helen deaf and blind when she was just 19-months old. Keller found a companion in Anne Sullivan, who thought her to communicate by spelling words on the hand. After learning the Braille script, she began reading languages like French, German, and Latin. In 1900, she joined the Radcliffe College and completed her graduation in 1902, thus becoming the first deaf and blind person to get a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1915, she started the Helen Keller International Organization.
Keller played an important role in starting the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. A member of the Socialist Party, she supported the Socialist candidate, Eugene Debs for his Presidential campaign. Helen had friends from all walks of life, including Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, and Alexander Graham Bell. Helen wrote her autobiography, The Story of My Life at the age of 22. She authored 12 books in her lifetime. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964, and inducted in the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1965. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968.
These were some of the famous women in the history of America who defied all the odds to make it big in their respective fields. Their immense contribution to this world has earned respect for them, not just in the United States, but all over the world.