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Walker Library Exhibit: Women's Rights Activists and Pioneers: Home

An online exhibit of Walker Library materials regarding activists and pioneers in Women's Rights. Includes Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Marsha P. Johnson, Patsy Mink, Dolores Huerta, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ruth Bader Gingsburg, and others!

Women's Rights Activists and Pioneers


Women's rights are the rights and entitlements of women, forming the basis for the women's movement in the 19th Century and the feminist movements of the 20th and 21st Centuries.  

Some of the core concepts of women's rights include: equal employment opportunities, right to vote, property rights, discrimination, right to health, reproductive rights, right to education, and freedom from violence.

The Walker Library has many resources on these important issues, and this exhibit showcases several women's rights activists and pioneers.  

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (b. 1797 - d. 1883) was born into slavery as Isabella "Belle" Baumfree.  She was an American abolitionist and women's rights activist and was the first black woman to win a case against a white male to recover her son from slavery.  She extemporaneously delivered the well-known speech, "Ain't I a Woman?" at the 1851 Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron.

Mary McLeon Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune (b. 1875 - d. 1955) was an American educator, civil rights activist, womanist, humanitarian, and philanthropist.  She had several notable accomplishments, including founding the National Council for Negro Women in 1935 and establishing the organization's journal, Aframerican Women's Journal.  She was a leader in numerous African American women's organizations and served as a national advisor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  She founded the Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta (b. 1930 - present) is an American labor leader and civil rights activist.  She co-founded the United Farm Workers Association and was the recipient of numerous awards for her advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women's rights, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She is the first Latin-American Woman to have been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson (b. 1945 - d. 1992) was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen.  She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and is well known for being one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.  Johnson was active in the New York City gay and art scene, modeled for Andy Warhol, and performed with the troupe Hot Peaches.  At various times throughout her life, Johnson suffered from mental instabilities and the cause of her untimely death in 1992 remains unsolved.

Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink (b. 1927 - d. 2002) was an American attorney and politician from Hawaii.  She was a third-generation Japanese American.  In 1964, she became the first woman of color and the first Asian-American elected to Congress, serving a total of 12 terms as a House Representative for Hawaii.  She was a co-author of the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act in 1972.  Mink was the first Asian-American woman to seek the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.  She devoted her life to work on legislation of importance to women, immigrants, minorities, and children.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) ( b. 1933 - d. 2020) was best known for being an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court.  Nominated by President Bill Clinton, RBG served from August 1993 through her death in September 2020 and was the second woman (after Sandra Day O'Connor) and the first Jewish woman to serve on the court.  During her tenure on the Supreme Court, she wrote a number of notable majority opinions, including  United States v. Virginia (1996), Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. (2000), and City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York (2005).

Alice Paul

Alice Paul (b. 1885 - d. 1977) was an American suffragist, women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders for the campaign for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  She was a leader in organizing such events as the Silent Sentinels and the Woman Suffrage Procession, each of which was instrumental to the successful passage of the 19th Amendment.  Alice Paul spent several decades leading the National Woman's Party, which fought for the Equal Rights Amendment to secure constitutional equality for women.  She was sent to jail for protesting in front of the White House.

Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Pearl Mankiller (b. 1945 - d. 2010) was a Cherokee activist, social worker, and community developer.  She is perhaps best known for being the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  During her tenure from 1985-1995, she led numerous significant advances in the Cherokee Nation.  As a result, she received many notable awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony (b. 1820 - d. 1906) was an American social reformer, best known for her pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement.  She was committed to women's rights and equality, collaborating with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to form and lead several women's rights associations, including:  Women's Loyal National League, American Equal Rights Association, and National American Woman Suffrage Association.  Anthony was for voting in her New York hometown in 1872 and convicted in a widely publicized trial.  This ultimately led to Anthony and Stanton's tireless efforts to ensure the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 -- women's right to vote.  Anthony was an extremely active public speaker, often delivering nearly 100 public speeches on women's suffrage each year.