Courtesy of Wikipedia

1132: Puduhepa

Hittite Queen

Born: c.1289 BCE, Lawanzantiyas, Kizzuwatna (Present-day Adana Province, Turkey)

Died: after 1215 BCE, Most Likely Somewhere in the Hittite Empire

Also Known As: Tawananna

Puduhepa was married to Hattusili III and has been referred to as “one of the most influential women known from the Ancient Near East.” Unlike the vast majority of women who lived in her day, Puduhepa’s voice has survived to present-day thanks to the letters she wrote also surviving. The letters were preserved in the Hittite, Ugarit, and Ancient Egyptian archives.

Puduhepa’s father was the local head priest to the goddess Ishtar. After his death, Puduhepa became head priestess in his place. After the Battle of Qadesh (in present-day Syria), Hattusili III (who was not yet king of the Hittites) passed through Puduhepa’s hometown. While there, he married Puduhepa and brought her home to the Hittite Kingdom.

Puduhepa reigned as an equal alongside her husband, who was often ill and unable to govern in his own right.

Puduhepa was a frequent pen-pal with Nefertari, the queen of Ancient Egypt and wife of Ramses II. Together, Puduhepa and Nefertari helped create the world’s first peace treaty—The Treaty of Qadesh (and to be fair, Ramses was also involved in the crafting of the treaty, but Puduhepa’s husband? Not so much).

Puduhepa’s letters also survive in the Ugarit archives. Her letters to the Ugarit king (in present-day Syria) concern reimbursements for a sunken ship and other tax matters. Basically, all of this means that Puduhepa was unusually powerful for a woman of her era. Instead of being a subordinate to her husband, she ruled in her own right and was addressed as being an equal to her husband by rival kings and queens.

After her husband’s death, Puduhepa moved into the role of a queen mother during her son’s reign. A clay impression seal discovered in 1936 shows Puduhepa and her son ruling side by side. Though her death was not recorded, she is known to have lived several years into her son’s reign.


Courtesy of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame

"I contemplated for a while the manner in which I might best serve the people of color. As wealth was not mine, I saw no other means of benefiting them, than by imparting to those of my own sex that were anxious to learn, all the instruction I might be able to give, however small the amount."

1131: Prudence Crandall

Education Activist and Abolitionist

Born: 3 September 1803, Hopkinton, Rhode Island, United States of America

Died: 28 January 1890, Elk Falls, Kansas, United States of America

Prudence was raised under the Quaker belief in equal educational opportunities for girls, and so in school she studied Latin, arithmetic, and science. These fields of study in her youth allowed her to open her own school in 1831. At first, her private school was attended by upper class daughters of Canterbury, Connecticut’s white families.

The school’s curriculum was viewed so highly that the school quickly became seen in equal light as similar schools for boys. A year after opening her school, in 1832, Prudence enrolled Sarah Harris, an African American woman wanting to become a teacher. Suffice to say the parents of her other students were outraged to say the least.

In 1833, she transformed the school into one exclusively for African American girls after white parents pulled their daughters from her school in protest for Prudence not expelling Sarah Harris. But by that point it didn’t matter, Prudence had already made history seeing as her school was the first of its kind in the history of New England. According to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, among the subjects taught at Prudence’s school were, “reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, history, philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, painting, music, piano and French,” (article linked below).

Prudence’s school was advertised in William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper (he was also an abolitionist and one of her biggest supporters). Many prominent African American families began to send their daughters to Prudence’s school, which brought further outrage and hostility her way. According to the other white families in the area, they feared more African American families in their town would lead to horrible things like—gasp—interracial marriage!

While we can look back on ridiculous examples of overt racism like this now and make jokes about it, it definitely wasn’t a joke at the time. Prudence was frequently targeted by violent white men in various ways, but she refused to back down or give in. The students were also harassed by people in the town. Some of the girls were hit with eggs, manure, or even stones if the girls dared venture off of the school property. At one point the water well was even laced with poison according to one source.

The same year Prudence transformed her school, 1833, Connecticut passed a ‘Black Law’ making it illegal to teach black students within the borders of Connecticut if they were from another state without the town the school was located in’s prior permission. The law was later repealed in 1838.

Prudence was arrested for breaking this law and put in jail. Her first trial ended in a hung jury, her second ended in Prudence being convicted. However, her conviction was later overturned by a higher court. Arguments from the two trials and later appeal were used by litigators during the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v Board of Education, which de-segregated schools across the United States once and for all (over one hundred and twenty years later no less, in 1955!).

Her school closed the following year after angry mobs smashed out the windows and destroyed most of the furniture. Prudence feared for the safety of her students, so she shut the doors to the school for the final time. Not because she was disheartened or no longer believed in her work, but purely because she wanted to keep her students safe.

In 1835, Prudence married and moved with her husband to Illinois. While in Illinois, Prudence continued teaching and participated in the women’s suffrage movement. After her husband’s death she moved in with her brother in Kansas, where she later passed away.

In 1886, urged on by now-repentant residents of Canterbury, as well as the resident author of the town Mark Twain, the Connecticut legislature awarded Prudence a small pension to help her financially for the last years of her life.

Prudence is now called the State Heroine of Connecticut. Her former school now houses the Prudence Crandall Museum. Prudence is also honored through the Prudence Crandall Center, which fights to help victims of domestic violence. Their mission statement on their website reads in part, “Today PCC is one of only a few programs in the country offering the full spectrum of shelter, housing and support services needed to offer practical, long-term solutions to the challenges faced by victims, helping them heal and move forward to safe, self-sufficient lives, free of violence.” Their website is linked below for more information.

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Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicki Leon


Courtesy of Livius

1130: Pompeia Plotina

Roman Empress and Wife of Trajan

Born: c.65 AD, Gallia Narbonensis, Roman Empire (Present-day Southwestern France)

Died: c.123 AD, Rome, Roman Empire (Present-day Rome, Italy)

Pompeia was renowned for interest in philosophy, dignity, virtue, and simplicity. She served as empress from 98 to 117 AD (though it took her a full seven years after his ascension to the throne to accept the title of Empress [Augusta in Latin]).

She was loved by the Roman people for her interest in what was best for them. According to legend, during Trajan’s ascension to the Roman throne, Pompeia turned around while walking up the palace steps in order to address the crowd. Reportedly, Pompeia told the people she always wanted to remain the same woman as she was in that moment, meaning she did not want to become like so many other Empresses before or after her in Roman history.

Pompeia never bore any children of her own, and so on her husband’s death bed, she implored him to adopt Hadrian as his heir. Trajan complied, and Hadrian became the next emperor.

As thanks for helping elevate him to emperor, Hadrian honored his adopted mother by having Pompeia deified after her death.

Coins with Pompeia’s image have survived to present day, as well as fragments of statuary.

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1128: Xochitl

Queen During the Toltec Empire

Lived: c.877-c.916 AD, Toltec Lands (Present-day Mexico)

She may be a legend, actual archaeological and historical documentation on her life does not exist for certain.

According to those legends, however, a civil war erupted, and Xochitl led a squadron of female warriors in the fighting, before dying in battle. Xochitl’s son was the last leader of the Toltec Empire and was also killed in battle.

Xochitl was also married to Tecpancaltzin Iztaccaltzin, the ninth ruler of the Toltec Empire.

Finding any sources online other than Wikipedia is easier said than done, so for now we’ll give her a spot of honor on this website and hope for more information to be uncovered someday.

According to Wikipedia, Xochitl’s legend was written down by indigenous historian Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. Unfortunately, Fernando is known today for his biases towards Mexico's indigenous culture, and so his writings have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt.


Courtesy of All Things Cherokee

1126: Nancy Ward

The Last Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation

Born: c.1738, Chota, Cherokee Nation (Present-day Monroe County, Tennessee, United States of America)

Died: 1822, near Present-day Benton, Tennessee, United States of America

Also Known As: Nanye-hi (Translated as either One who Goes About or She who Walks Among the Spirits—sources differ)

Nancy has been hailed as the Pocahontas of Tennessee and a princess and prophetess of the Cherokee Nation.

Nancy’s maternal uncle was an important chief for his people (the Wolf Clan), and he personally believed finding a way to co-exist with the British colonizers gave his people the best chance to survive. His believes would make a lasting impression on Nancy.

By the time she was seventeen or eighteen (again, sources differ), Nancy was married with two children. Nancy fought in battle against the Creek Nation with her husband, and reportedly chewed the ends of his lead bullets to make them pointier and deadlier so…that’s nice. After her husband was killed in the fighting, Nancy took his rifle and led her people to victory, expanding Cherokee territory into northwest Georgia.

Because of her victory, Nancy was given the title of Ghigau or Beloved Woman. This meant she was able to sit in on councils with the chiefs, led the Woman’s Council of Clan Representatives, was given a vote in the general council (the only woman with this power), and was given total control of prisoners taken in raids or battles. The Cherokee also believed the Great Spirit spoke through the Beloved Woman and so she was also spiritually powerful. In a word, Nancy was a badass.

In the latter part of the 1750’s, Nancy married an English trader and took an Anglicized name to reflect her new status as the wife of an Englishman. Together, Nancy and her new husband had one daughter. After a few years, Nancy’s husband went home to his already existing English wife and family in South Carolina and evidently Nancy and her daughter would go visit them on occasion. The Cherokee did not see marriage as a lifelong institution and so this little detail wasn’t a hang up for Nancy of her people.

In 1776, after the outbreak of the American Revolution, Nancy decided she wanted to try and keep the peace with her new American neighbors even though part of the Cherokee Nation, including her cousin, wanted to drive the white settlers out. After learning of a planned raid on the white settlement, Nancy released three of her prisoners (who were white) and told them to warn their people. With sufficient time thanks to Nancy, the settlers were able to evacuate most of the women and children to safety before the Cherokee attack.

During the raid, the Cherokee managed to capture one white woman and bring her back to the Cherokee village. The warriors wanted to burn the woman alive, but Nancy managed to save her and eventually set the woman free to return to her people. This woman, along with the other prisoners Nancy had released earlier, began to spread the word of the Beloved Woman who wanted to keep the peace between her people and the settlers.

The following year, white settlers retaliated for the Cherokee attack by invading the Cherokee nation. All the Cherokee settlements were attacked, save the village where Nancy lived out of respect to her. Throughout the rest of the American Revolution battles between the Cherokee and the Americans continued. In 1781, Nancy spoke with the white leaders who were trying to negotiate a peace treaty between their people, and while these white leaders were confused by a woman having such a public role, especially a political one, Nancy made an impression. Her family was protected throughout the rest of the war.

In November 1785, Nancy and the new Cherokee chief signed a peace treaty with the newly formed United States of America. Soon after, Nancy’s daughter (that she shared with her white husband) married the Virginia Indian Commissioner.

In the years following, white settlers continually encroached on Cherokee land because the ground was perfect for growing cotton. Washington’s administration was aware of the problem but failed to act in any meaningful way to stop it. By the early 1820’s, the Cherokee had sold much of what remained of their land in order to at least turn some form of profit instead of losing everything. Nancy entered a written plea to try and stop the sales in 1819, realizing that after decades of advocating a peaceful co-existence it had all come crashing down. Nancy became an innkeeper after her homeland was sold off, and she was cared for her by her son in her final years.

Nancy is credited with introducing cattle ranching, dairy farming, spinning cloth, and slaveholding to the Cherokee society. She was instrumental in transitioning the Cherokee away from their traditional way of life and towards a more Western society, and so her legacy within the Cherokee culture and history is complicated to say the least.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution named a chapter in her honor, as well as building two monuments to her at her gravesite. The first was erected in 1923 and the second in 2018. Both can be viewed on her Find a Grave profile, which is linked below.

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

“I will have him, because I believe he needs me. I have no shame.”

Mary writing to a friend after meeting her future husband for the first time

1125: Mary Curzon

Vicereine of India

Born: 27 May 1870, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Died: 18 July 1906, London, United Kingdom

Full Name: Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston

Though she was born in America, thanks to her marriage into the British Aristocracy, Mary held the highest political rank of any American woman for part of her life.

Mary’s father was a part owner of Marshall Fields Company and one of the largest landowners in Washington DC in the late nineteenth century. Mary herself was friends with then-First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland.

According to The Crown Chronicles (article linked below), “As a young girl, Mary was taught dancing, singing, music, and art, as well as French, by her governess. A professor from Columbia University was brought in taught her history, arithmetic, and chemistry, too, the harder, less ‘feminine’ subjects lacking in many girls’ educations.”

The Leiter family was very wealthy, and so when Mary married her husband, she became one of the “Million Dollar American Princesses.” Together, Mary and her husband had three daughters.

Mary’s husband was a member of parliament and, in 1898, was named Viceroy of British-Controlled India and also received the title Baron of Kedleston. Mary became Vicereine and a Baroness consequently.

Mary was her husband’s biggest supporter, despite his early failings at his post. She performed various ceremonial duties in her role as Vicereine, but her health quickly turned poor, despite the fact she was a champion of healthcare reform. Mary was an advocate for helping women achieve jobs in the healthcare industry and be able to attend medical school. There is a hospital in Bangalore named in her honor.

Mary was also an early proponent of animal welfare, and she pushed her husband to create a wildlife reserve to protect the rhinoceroses. Today, the site is a national park. Mary and her husband were not without their faults however—they did enjoy big game hunting and at least one photo of them standing alongside a tiger they killed do exist.

In August of 1905, Mary’s husband resigned his post and the family returned to England. By then, Mary’s poor health was growing worse. The pressures of working to support her husband, the tropical climate of India, and an infection she had developed after suffering a miscarriage all weakened Mary, and she passed away the following year, only thirty-six years old.

One example of Mary’s over-the-top attention to detail and ceremony is highlighted in her famous “Peacock Dress,” (shown in this article in a posthumous portrait of Mary). Worn by Mary in 1903, the dress weighs over ten pounds and is made with metal embroidery and green beetle shells that sparkle like emeralds. The dress was donated by Mary’s daughter in 1997 in order to avoid an inheritance tax. An article with more information on the dress is linked below.

For those who are fans of Downtown Abbey, some believe the character of Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, is based on Mary.

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The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy by Anne De Courcy


1124: Mary Musgrove

Helped Found the Colony of Georgia (Now the State of Georgia in the United States of America)

Born: c.1700, Coweta, Creek Nation (Present-day Georgia, United States of America)

Died: c.1763, St. Catherines Island, Colony of Georgia (Present-day St. Catherines Island, Georgia, United States of America)

Also Known As: Coosaponakeesa

Mary’s father was an English trader, and her mother was a member of the Creek Native American tribe. Because of her dual heritage, Mary was able to facilitate talks between the two peoples, as well as working as a successful trader and interpreter.

Mary spent the first years of her life living among her mother’s people in the Muscogee Creek Nation, but when she was about seven years old, Mary’s father took her and her brother to South Carolina, where Mary leaned English and changed her name from her Creek name, listed above, to the English name Mary.

In 1717, Mary married an English trader and they had three children, though all of them died soon after their births. Mary and her husband set up a trading post where they worked together. Mary took on additional work as an interpreter.

From 1733 to 1743, Mary worked as an interpreter for General James Oglethorpe, one of the founding charter members of the Georgia Colony. After two years with Oglethorpe, Mary’s husband died, buts he continued her work with the general. Around this same time, Mary was instrumental in helping found the city of Savannah in Georgia.

At the time of her husband’s death, he owned several hundred acres of land in both South Carolina and Georgia, as well as various other assets. The laws of the colonies at the time stated that a widow could only lay claim to her husband’s lands until her eldest son became old enough to inherit the lands. Because all of Mary’s children were dead, she married again in 1737, most likely because her new husband would be able to keep her lands for her.

The reason why historians believe this was why she married again? Mary’s new husband was one of her indentured servants and was a good many years younger than her. This was no love match, but it did the trick.

That is, until hubby #2 died in 1742. Once again Mary was at risk of losing everything, which now included a new trading post she had started with her second husband. Mary married for a third time, this time to a reverend. Hubby #3 ensured Mary rose through the ranks of Georgian society (something unheard of for a Native American before Mary), and together they traveled to various native communities working as mediators between the natives and the English settlers.

After a few years, the Creek nation bestowed land grants to three islands to Mary. The Georgian officials refused to allow Mary ownership of the grants, and a lengthy legal battle ensued, during which time Mary even sailed to England in order to state her case before the Board of Trade. This was after she and two hundred Creek supporters marched to Savannah in order to state her right to ownership of the islands. Eventually an agreement was settled upon. If Mary gave up her claim to two of the islands, she would be given ownership of the third as well as a tidy monetary sum.

Mary worked as a mediator between the two peoples for the rest of her life. Sadly, no paintings or likenesses of Mary survive to present-day. In 2002, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement.


Courtesy of Wikipedia

1123: Merneith

Served as Regent for Her Son Den of the First Dynasty of Egypt

Lived: c.2925 BCE, Ancient Egypt

Merneith was the daughter of Pharaoh Djer and most likely served as a queen to her husband, the Pharaoh Djet (if they were in fact married, this fact is also in dispute). Merneith was named as “Mother of the King”, meaning her son Den, in one of her tomb inscriptions.

Her name is found on the Palermo Stone, which lists early kings of Egypt. The fact that her name appears on the stone gives credence to the idea that Merneith may have ruled in her own right, though this has never been definitively proven.

Merneith’s name means “Beloved of Neith,” Neith being one of the greatest of Egypt’s deities.

Historians have debated for many years as to whether or not Merneith ever served as Pharaoh in her own right. If she did serve as Pharaoh with no male co-regent, she could have been the first female Pharaoh and also earliest queen regnant in recorded history.

Merneith was given two tombs, one in Upper Egypt at Abydos and one in Lower Egypt at Saqqara. Her tomb in Abydos was excavated by the now-famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, who concluded the tomb must belong to a pharaoh because of the elaborate decorations and grave goods.

Merneith is the only woman from the first dynasty who has been found to have two tombs, which also bolsters her esteem as a highly regarded member of the royal family.

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National Geographic Presents "Queens of Egypt When Women Ruled the World" by Kara Cooney

When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney


Courtesy of

1122: Marie Aioe Dorion

The Second Woman to Trek Across North America After Sacagawea

Born: c.1786, Louisiana, United States of America*

Died: 5 September 1850, St. Louis, Oregon, United States of America

Full Name: Marie Aioe Dorion Venier Toupin

Also Known As: Wihmunkewakan (“Walks Far Woman”) or The Madonna of the Oregon Trail

Marie was a member of the Ioway Tribe of Native Americans but was not given a Native name at birth, or if she was it has not survived to present-day. Its likely that Marie was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as a child, and gave Christian names to her sons.

When she was a teenager, Marie married the son of a fur-trapper who had assisted Lewis and Clark on their more famous expedition. Some sources state Marie’s husband was a drunk and a horrible excuse for a husband, who may have beat her on several occasions. He was half Yankton-Sioux and half white (French, actually), while Marie’s own ancestry was most likely mixed as well.

She traveled with the Astoria Expedition which was financed by John Jacob Astor to establish a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Astoria Expedition took place only five years after Sacagawea and the Corps of Discovery explored much of the North-Western United States.

Marie was forced to walk most of the planned 3,000-mile route, and spent most of the journey starving and frozen from the cold. Oh, and she was pregnant at the time, so you know, that’s fun. She carried her younger son on a cradleboard on her back as well and had her older son to look after too. On the thirtieth or thirty-first of December, 1811, Marie gave birth alone on the trail just before the group was supposed to cross the Blue Mountains. Marie’s baby only lived six or eight days (sources differ), and was buried in an unmarked grave along the trail. The baby’s sex and name, if the child was given one, have not survived to present day. Even more devastating, Marie was not given any time to grieve and immediately had to continue the journey over the mountains with the rest of the expedition.

By February of 1812, the travelers finally reached their destination and were able to establish Fort Astoria, their new home. Of the sixty members of the expedition who had first begun the journey, forty-five made it to the end. Things were relatively peaceful for eighteen months, but that was soon to change.

In 1814, Marie’s husband was on another fur trapping expedition when word reached her that his group was in trouble. Marie learned that the Shoshone Bannocks were planning on attacking her husband’s party, so Marie tossed her two sons on a horse and trudged through the snow for three long days, fighting to reach her husband in time.

Sadly, Marie arrived too late. Her husband had already been killed, and Marie and her sons barely escaped with their lives. Marie grabbed the only survivor and began to drag him back to base camp, where she had left from three days before. When Marie returned to base camp with her sons (the wounded man had died on the journey), she found the camp ransacked and the men there massacred. All of the supplies were either stolen or burned.

Now trapped in the dead of winter in present-day Oregon and Washington, Marie and her sons traversed the snow for fifty-three treacherous days. After journeying around 250 miles, butchering her horse and catching mice to survive, Marie reached the Walla Walla people and was able to seek shelter with them. Before finding the Walla Walla people, Marie had been so desperate to save her sons she had buried them in a buffalo robe in the snow and traversed the wilderness alone. She was half-blind by the snow when the Walla Walla found her, and a group of braves immediately set out to find her boys, saving all three of their lives.

Marie remarried twice more after her rescue. With her second husband she had a daughter, though he too was killed by Native Americans. Marie had two more children (a son and daughter) with her third husband.

Marie’s final resting place is marked by a monument placed by the Champoeg Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

*Wikipedia lists Marie's birth place as Louisiana, but none of the other sources list a place of birth for Marie. Because it was the only location named, I have listed it here, but also want to provide a note of caution in that I cannot prove Louisiana is actually her true birth location.

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1121: Maria Bartola

The First Historian of Mexico

Lived: c.16th Century AD, Aztec Empire (Present-day Mexico)

Maria was the niece of Moctezuma II, Emperor of the Aztecs.

A princess of the Aztec Empire, Maria wrote an account of the Spanish invasion of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City). Though her birth name is now lost to history, Maria’s account of the invasion is known as it was the basis for later Spanish chroniclers own accounts of what happened those fateful days in the waning Aztec empire. Unfortunately, Maria’s exact writings were reportedly burned by the Spanish chroniclers after the fact.

Maria’s uncle the king died in the fighting, and though her father succeeded him as king, Maria’s father died only a few months later from smallpox. Maria’s brother became the last Aztec emperor, and succeeded to the throne just as Cortes began his march on the capital. Maria’s brother was killed by the invaders, and very few Aztecs survived the ordeal.

Very little else of Maria’s story is known today, and there are equally few sources easily available for her on the internet. Maria is considered the first historian of Mexico because her account of the fall of the Aztec Empire is the first historical account known to have been written about the land that became known as Mexico.