March is Women’s History Month and we’re proud to shine a light on some of the women who have made huge impressions, leaving their mark on Virginia.
Please note that this list is in no way comprehensive. How could it be? To give us a hand, please leave a comment to honor the Virginia women you find most influential.
Pocahontas (1595-1617) daughter of Indian Chief Powhatan; married John Rolfe.
- April 4-6, 2014: 400th Commemoration of the Marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe
- Historic Jamestowne – English colonists’ first settlement, 1607
Mary Elizabeth Bowser (1839-unknown) Richmond; Union spy working as a servant for Varina Davis, wife of the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Inducted into the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame (1995).
- White House of the Confederacy, Richmond
Maggie L. Walker (1864-1934) Richmond; First woman bank president in America, Advocate of black women’s rights.
- Maggie Walker National Historic Site, Richmond
Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) Richmond; fiction writer in early 1900s, Pulitzer Prize winner (1942).
Nancy Langhorne Astor (1879-1964) Danville; first woman seated in the British House of Commons.
Ann Spencer (1882-1975) Henry County; African-American poet of the Harlem Renaissance.
- Ann Spencer House and Garden, Lynchburg
Sara Carter (1898-1979) Copper Creek; country singer.
Maybelle Carter – (1909-1979) Nicklesville; country singer.
Ella Fitzgerald (1917-96) Newport News; “The First Lady of Song;” Grammy Award-winning Jazz singer (13 times).
Virginia Musical Museum, Williamsburg
Pearl Bailey (1918-90) Newport News; Actress, Singer and Author; Tony Award (1967); Medal of Freedom Award (1988).
- Virginia Musical Museum, Williamsburg
June Carter Cash (1929-2003) Hiltons; country singer, married to Johnny Cash.
Patsy Cline (1932-1963) Winchester; country singer.
- Patsy Cline Historic House, Winchester
Shirley MacLaine (1934- ) Richmond; stage and screen actress, Academy Award winner.
Barbara Johns (1935-1991) New York City, but grew up in Farmville, Prince Edward County. Sixteen year old junior at Robert Russa Moton High School who organized a student strike for a new school building (1951). The NAACP advised the students to sue for integration. The Farmville case was one of the five eventually rolled into the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that declared segregation unconstitutional (1954).
Kylene Barker (1955 – ) Pipers Gap; 1979 Miss America – Virginia’s first Miss America.
Katie Couric (1957- ) Arlington; television news personality; host of “Katie,” ABC; global anchor, Yahoo News.
Wanda Sykes (1964- ) Portsmouth; Comedienne and actress. Film and television credits include “The Wanda Sykes Show,” “Evan Almighty,” “Monster-in-Law,” “Nutty Professor 2;” Emmy Award Winner (1999, 2002, 2004, 2005).
Missy Elliott (1971- ) Portsmouth; Songwriter, Producer, Arranger, Talent Scout, Record Mogul. Considered the top female hip-hop artist of all time. Four-time Grammy Award Winner (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005).
Whitney Hedgepeth (1971- ) Colonial Heights; Three-time NCAA Champion, Gold and Silver Olympic Medalist (Atlanta 1996).
Caressa Cameron (1987- ) – Fredericksburg; 2010 Miss America.
Gabrielle Douglas (1995- ) Virginia Beach; Gymnast. Olympic Gold Medalist (London 2012). First African-American all-around gymnastics champion.
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