Pennsylvania Women's History Heritage Trail
This heritage trail explores notable women and moment in women's history in Pennsylvania. Most of these entries were developed by students in history classes at Saint Vincent College.
Built in 1870 by Franklin Sumner Tarbell in Titusville, Pennsylvania, this historic house was restored in 2007 by the Oil Region Alliance. It served as the childhood home of Ida Tarbell, whose investigative journalism lead to the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’ s oil monopoly by the Supreme Court. It used materials from the Bonta House of Pithole, PA (now a ghost town) in its construction and features curved interior walls, made possible by Franklin's experience as a barrel-maker. The House was restored by the Oil Region Alliance from 2007 - 2016, and now functions as a museum and seasonal tea venue. Its newest exhibit is a collection of political cartoons from the late 19th - 20th centuries.
This historical marker commemorates Westminster College which was founded near this location on January 21, 1852. Today, the institution is a liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located a few blocks south of this marker.
Traveling the world in only 72 days was only one of Nellie Bly’s great accomplishments. The Nellie Bly Historical Marker is located in Apollo, Pennsylvania, directly in front of Bly’s childhood home. This marker is used to honor Bly, who was also a popular journalist throughout the mid to late 1880s. She was quite the activist, using her journalism career to investigate social justice issues and to advocate for women. Nellie’s marker was erected on July 22, 1995 and is easily accessible to the public, and her childhood home is privately owned. The marker was put into place by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Fannie Sellins was a union organizer who literally fought to the death for workers’ rights. She was assigned to the Allegheny River Valley while involved with the United Mine Workers of America to direct picketing by striking miners at the Allegheny Coal and Coke Company. On August 26, 1919, She witnessed Joseph Starzeleski being beaten by guards, and when she intervened, was shot dead by deputies on the scene. The coroner ruled that it was a justifiable homicide, stating that Sellins was inciting a riot. A Historical Marker, and memorial were placed at the Union Cemetery in Arnold, Pennsylvania to honor her life.
Stephanie Kwolek was a historic figure not only in women's history but in modern science. Kwolek's research has saved millions of lived throughout her discover of kevlar and her achievements at DuPont and Carnegie University. Her research and more specifically her discover of kevlar has led to over 200 applications in society. As a native from New Kensington she has been enshrined with a historical marker and recognized from her university and the company she worked for.
The Rachel Carson Homestead is the birthplace and childhood home of nationally renowned author and scientist Rachel Carson. Located in Springdale, Pennsylvania, her family moved into the estate in 1901. Carson was born in 1907 within the home and spent her childhood to college years living there. She was an ecologist who wrote a number of books on the dangers of chemical exposure caused by humans (i.e. pesticides); her most famous and ground-breaking book, “Silent Spring,” spurred a reversal in pesticide use in America, banned the use of DDT for agricultural uses, and led an environmental movement that eventually resulted in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The site is operated by a volunteer-only basis and open to the public for tours April to November.
Rachel Carson, environmentalist, humanitarian, and author was born May 27th, 1907 in Springdale, PA and died on April 14th, 1964 in Silver Spring Maryland. Carson’s roots came from Allegheny County where she grew up seeing pollution emitted by factories in Pittsburgh and had a love of nature instilled in her by her mother. She harnessed this passion and became one of the most notable environmentalists in human history. She is famous for writing her novel Silent Spring, which detailed the harmful effects the chemical pesticide DDT had on human life and nature. She started an environmental movement and improved the health of millions of Americans across the country. A historical marker honors Carson on Pittsburgh Street & Colfax Street in Springdale to remember her small-town roots and how she became a globally known name.
Martha Graham is a renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher. She opened her School of Contemporary Dance in 1927, where her technique and repertory is still being taught. She is known for revolutionizing modern dance through her classes and performances. This is the oldest professional dance school located in the United States. This school is for dancers who intend on pursuing professional dance careers or who are looking for a new hobby.
Put in place on the corner of Jacksonia and Arch street on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 16, 2019 was the historical monument for Dorothy Mae Richardson. The monument is in direct memory of Ms. Richardson as it begins with the years the she was born in and passed away. It is followed by a brief recap of all she did for the community, such as founding what became NeighborWorks America, which has helped thousands of Americans keep their homes while also updating the construction of neighborhoods nationwide. Throughout the 1960's and 70's, Dorothy Mae Richardson was one of the most influential and important people in the city of Pittsburgh, and her memory will live on through her historical monument, located by a public intersection, which is open to anyone who chooses to visit the North Side of Pittsburgh at any time of the year.
Lois Weber was a dynamic, intelligent, and resilient female pioneer of the film industry. Born in Allegheny City Pennsylvania in 1879, Weber eventually moved to New York City in 1904 to pursue her passion; the theatrical arts. Also in 1904, she married Phillips Smalley, a prominent director and actor. In 1907, Weber and Smalley began working together and produced an array of successful films. By this point, the Smalley’s had moved to California and began to receive national acclaim for their films. In 1917, Weber formed her own company in Hollywood and achieved the status of highest paid director for both males and females. After a series of unfortunate events which resulted in a divorce and remarriage to an abusive spouse, Weber passed away in 1939. However, her legacy continues to live on. In the 1970’s, she was rediscovered by a group of historians and her achievements were closely studied. She is commonly known as “the director who lost her way in history.” Weber is best known for her films which centered around controversial yet important social issues. Topics included birth control, drug abuse, and poverty.
This historical marker honors Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), an American Impressionist painter born near this location in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh). She studied traditional painting in Philadelphia and adopted the unconventional Impressionist style after moving to Paris. She was the only American and woman artist to integrate with a group of contemporary Impressionists, including the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Degas, all based in Paris. Her airy, colorful paintings often depict women and children in relaxed, private spaces. The historical marker was installed in her honor in 2004 for her 160th birthday.
The Edith Ammon Memorial Garden is located at Point State Park. It can be found surrounding the Fort Pitt Block House which is one of the oldest historical sites in Pittsburgh. The Memorial Garden has “wide pathways and attractive gardens of native plants culminating in the sandstone and bronze memorial to Edith Ammon”. Also, all of the plantings within the garden are native to Western PA. The idea for building the garden began in 2013 when the Fort Pitt Society “contacted local landscape architect, Jack LaQuatra of LaQuatra Bonci Associates, about creating a garden on the grounds of the Fort Pitt Block House”.
This historical marker shares the story of the Sisters of Mercy who arrived in Pittsburgh from Ireland in the antebellum period. In 1843, Sister Frances Warde and six others arrived in the United States from Carlow, Ireland and made their way over the Allegheny Mountains on a train and stagecoach. They arrived in Pittsburgh on December 21, 1843 to open the first Mercy convent in the United States. On their way, the sisters ministered to the passengers, and tended to their physical needs, and taught them the tenants of their faith. As soon as they arrived, they began work assisting the poor and afflicted. This historic marker was dedicated in 1993 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Named for author and environmentalist Rachel Carson, the bridge that now bears her name was completed in 1926 and originally known as the 9th Street Bridge. It was renamed to honor Carson on Earth Day, 2006. The Carson Bridge is one of a trio of bridges known as the “Three Sisters” due to their proximity to one another and similarity of design. The other two, located just downriver, are the Andy Warhol and Roberto Clemente Bridges. The Carson Bridge, like the other two, is a self-anchored suspension bridge that connects Pittsburgh’s downtown with its North Shore. The “Three Sisters” were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
This historical marker honors Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934), a highly awarded Polish scientist. As a child her father introduced her to the sciences leading her to enroll at the University of Paris. After decades of hard work and research, she would receive the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields for her work with radiation and her discovery of Radium and Polonium. Curie also served in WWI by manufacturing portable X-ray trucks and developing new treatments for wounded soldiers. In addition to her Nobel Prizes she received countless medals, statues, and honorary degrees. One such degree was given to her by the University of Pittsburgh in 1921 and a plaque was installed for her 100th birthday.
This historical marker is located outside the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. In her will, Ms. Jane Holmes left money to found this organization as well as several others. During her life, she supported and started numerous social service agencies that crossed ethnic, racial, gender, and class boundaries. Her efforts helped make Pittsburgh the place we know today. This historical marker was built in 2007, supported by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in order to honor the philanthropy efforts of Ms. Jane Holmes.
Mother Jones was a woman who was known for being fearless and strong willed. She was a female labor and workers’ rights advocate. No matter what, she was always determined to do whatever it took to help those workers out. Mary Harris Jones was a leader who ended up in jail for fighting for what she believed in. In the end, she left her mark as being “the most dangerous women in America.” She was a labor leader, author, and major influence in ending child labor through her March of the Mill.
Helen Richey was a female aviator during the early 1900’s. She was born and raised in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Richey was not very interested in college, so she dropped out of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Tech and enrolled in flight school. She was the first woman to be hired by a United States commercial airline. Throughout her career she many broke records, starred in newspaper headlines, and befriended co-pilot Amelia Earhart. Although it seemed that she had everything going well for her, there was an unknown problem. Unfortunately, Helen Richey committed suicide in 1947 in her New York apartment. Despite Richey’s death, her legacy still remains a part of women’s history. Her marker is located in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. It is a representation of the inspiration and hard work that women in the aviation field have faced since the beginning of time.
In 1831, Sisters of Mercy was founded in Dublin, Ireland. They are a religious institute of Roman Catholic women (Saint Xavier University). In 1843, Sisters of Mercy came to the United States the whole way from Ireland by Saint Frances Xavier Warde. That makes Saint Xavier's the oldest institution in Sisters of Mercy, located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. It was originally located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but eventually migrated to Latrobe. However, the Sister of Mercy are still located in Pittsburgh today.
The Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College is a 50 acre nature reserve adjacent to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The Reserve includes a native landscapes, trails, meadows, gardens, Environmental Learning Barn, Nature Explore Certified play spaces, pond, wetlands, and more! The property is open to the public for recreation, conservation, and education.
Mrs. Flora (Snyder) Black was a civic leader, from Somerset County, who formed a group in 1914, originally called "Die Hausfauen" because most members were Pa. German women. The group provided community networks to help women on farms in Somerset County and across the state. She formed this group because she was missing the social aspects of school and was convinced that farm women should also have time to get together for fun and learning. As the anti-German sentiment grew during World War 1, Flora Black and the other founders, changed the name of their organization to the “Society of Farm Women.” She served eleven years as president of this society that she founded, and two terms as president of the Somerset County branch. Flora Black was active in the society until her death in 1951 at the age of eighty-one. The marker memorializing Flora is located on U.S. Route 219, three miles northwest of Meyersdale, PA. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2006.
In May of 1988, The Williamsport Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association planted a historical marker at this location in tribute to the school's 105 year history. The Williamsport Hospital School of Nursing, originally named The Williamsport Hospital Training School for Nurses, first opened on June 5, 1883. Dr. Jean Saylor Brown and Dr. Rita Church, two of the nine trained female doctors in the Williamsport area at the time, played an important role in the founding of both the Williamsport Hospital in 1881 and the Training School for Nurses in 1883. These two establishments arose out of the increase in population in Lycoming County as a result of industry growth in the area, leading to a demand for improved health care to deal with the increase in illness, accidents, and disease.
Julia C. Collins was an African American essayist, teacher, and novelist who lived along the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Her 1865 novel, The Curse of Caste, or, The Slave Bride, is considered to be among the first published by an African American woman. Collins's life and writings provide a glimpse into the rarely documented experiences of nineteenth-century African American women, their families, and their communities.
Dr. Martha Elizabeth Reifsnyder was born in Liverpool, Pennsylvania 1858. She opened up the first women's hospital in China, which was also the first of its kind there. Although she was born in Pennsylvania, Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder moved to China early on in her career and spent most of her life there. Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder paved the way for modern medicine and performed a groundbreaking surgery that is still talked about today.
In Harrisburg, PA, in front of the water at N. Front Street stands a Memorial dedicated to the sacrifices Women of Harrisburg made during The Great War. Inscribed on this memorial is “In commemoration of the services and sacrifices of the women of Harrisburg in the World War”. Women served in the war on many different ways. Some women served on the home front, some served in the front lines of combat. The monument itself depicts 8 women on its face, each representing a different role women played during the war including nurse, factory worker, and farmer. Although not much is known about this monument, it remains in Dauphin County as a powerful symbol of the impact women had on World War 1.
This historical marker is a tribute to Mira Lloyd Dock (1853-1945), social reformer and environmentalist who lived directly across from this marker at 1427 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA. Dock became the first woman appointed to a position in Pennsylvania state government prior to the ratification of the 19th amendment when she was appointed to the State Forestry Reservation Commission in 1901. She was also responsible for starting the ‘City Beautiful’ movement that produced Harrisburg’s park system, improved unsanitary conditions in the city, and established other unprecedented civic improvements such as the creation of Wild Wood and Riverside Parks.
Dedicated in 2000, this historical marker shares the life of Genevieve Blatt, the first woman in Pennsylvania to win an election for a statewide position. Blatt later became the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for the U.S. Senate, although she lost that race to the Republican incumbent. Blatt graduated with a law degree during the Great Depression and worked a variety of jobs that utilized these skills, including drafting city codes and serving on President Johnson's advisory councils in the 1960s. Blatt became the first female appellate judge in Pennsylvania in the early 1970s and wrote an influential decision barring gender discrimination in school athletics.
This historical marker pays tribute to Irving Female College located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1856 by Soloman P. Gorgas whom named it after the famous American writer, Washington Irving. Irving College was the first institution in Pennsylvania to grant women degrees in arts and science. It encompassed the motto, “That our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace” to place the importance of allowing women higher education opportunities.
Dedicated in 2002, this statue depicts Elizabeth Thorn who replaced her husband as the caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery during the Civil War following his enlistment. Despite being six months pregnant at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, Thorn cared for wounded soldiers and dug graves for over a hundred soldiers and civilians who had perished in the battle. The statue depicts a Thorn as she appeared following the battle, expecting a child as she worked to fill her husband's post as caretaker while also caring for her family and attending to the dead and wounded. Peter Thorn returned after the war and the couple lived together until 1907. Both are buried at Evergreen Cemetery along with many other women and soldiers of the Civil War era.
Born into slavery on January 23, 1837 in Long Green, Maryland, Amanda Berry Smith was no stranger to a hard-working environment. Her father, Samuel Berry, worked for wages at night in order to gain freedom for his family. Once her father bought their family freedom, their family was able to move to a farm in York County. Even after attaining freedom, Smith was faced with many hardships. Dealing with death and oppression, she fought her way to make a name for herself. Through her faith and caring demeanor, Smith touched the lives of many.
Ann Preston was born December 1, 1813, to Amos Preston, a Quaker minister, and Margaret Smith Preston, in West Grove, Pennsylvania, a Quaker community near Philadelphia. She was the second of nine children and out of their three daughters, Ann was the only one to survive to adulthood. Ann Preston loved writing and she published different books and poems, including Cousin Ann's Stories In 1849, a book of nursery rhymes. She is most known for starting the Women’s Medical College. This was the first college in which women were able to get an education and a degree in the medical field (Bacon, Margaret Hope). The historical marker was erected in 2008 by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and was placed here due to it being Preston’s place of birth.
The Woman’s Rights Convention of 1852 was the first convention held in Pennsylvania. The convention was held on June 2nd and 3rd in 1852 at the Horticultural Hall in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The main objective of the meeting was to pursue legal, social, educational, and economic equality for all women. West Chester was awarded a conference due to their strong background of women’s rights activism. Several prominent figures attended this convention including Lucretia and James Mott, Frances D. Gage, and Ernestine Rose. The meeting concluded with sixteen significant resolutions working toward women’s suffrage. These resolutions included endorsing woman suffrage, the right of women to study sciences, equal pay for equal work, and equal treatment with the law.
This historical marker distinguishes Ercildoun, Pennsylvania, as the birthplace of prominent physicist and author Dr. Charlotte Moore Sitterly. Sitterly was born in Chester County in 1898, but this marker was erected in 2005 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. This sign is publicly accessible at 660 Buck Run Road, in Coatesville PA, and is shown on the map below. Sitterly was a devout Quaker, attending Fallowfield Friends Meeting. Most notably, Dr. Sitterly was an award winning astronomist, primarily studying the solar spectrum and atomic data, working at Princeton and the Bureau of Standards.
Fanny M. Jackson Coppin was born on January of 1837 in Washington D.C. Fanny was a slave after nine months of being born where she stayed a slave till she was twelve years old. There is not much information on her youth as she was a slave and there was no documents recorded. However, when she was set free in 1849, she became a servant for a famous author name George Henry Calvert. Fanny was an educator, a writer, missionary and former slave. She resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Erected in 2014 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, this historical marker was commissioned to honor the life of Anna Howard Shaw (February 14, 1847 – July 2, 1919). This marker can be found at the intersection of S Orange St. and S Ridley Creek Rd on S Orange St. Shaw was a leader of the women's suffrage movement of the United States. She was also a physician and one of the first ordained female Methodist ministers in the United States. Shaw is known for being a key member in the unification of various suffrage groups to create a united front in the women's suffrage movement. She lived near the location where this historical marker was erected from 1908 until her death.
Dr. Anna E. Broomall was an obstetrician and gynecologist known specifically for her revolutionary work in fetal medicine. She continuously worked with women in high risk pregnancies to decrease the infant mortality rate. Broomall strategized with different methods that were uncommon for her time, including cesarean section, to promote safer deliveries for both mothers and their babies, while also creating one of the country’s first maternity care clinics in Pennsylvania. She wrote articles and studied cases regarding different fetal complications, and she also presented ideas that would come to change the fetal medicine industry.
This is a marker to commemorate the life of Ethel Waters, one of the most renown singers and actresses of the early 20th century. Waters was born on October 31, 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania. This marker is where Ethel grew up. She did not have an easy childhood, and craved affection she never received. Her family was always on the move, and she suffered from many illnesses and injuries as a child. After a rough childhood, she moved to Baltimore and it was there that her career began. After her big break, Waters went on to become a famous jazz singer and a Broadway sensation. In 1933, Waters appeared in her first all-black film, Rufus Jones for President, that featured the child performer Sammy Davis Jr. as Rufus Jones. She continued her career always holding multiple jobs at once, and was even nominated for an Academy Award in 1949. Waters was married three times, and had no children. She lived a long and successful life that came to an end from uterine cancer on September 1, 1981.
Ruth Plumly Thompson was an American writer born on July 27th, 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout her lifetime, she held a variety of writing-oriented careers and wrote a vast collection of children’s stories. Her biggest accomplishment in life, and certainly the work in which she is most known for, were her contributions to Frank L. Baum’s Oz series. Having been hired shortly after his death, Ruth Plumly Thompson became the successor to the Oz series, writing nineteen additional books to the series. In later years after her work in Oz, she continued work as a free-lancer writing children’s stories for various magazines before sadly passing away on April 6th, 1976. The Ruth Plumly Thompson Historical Marker stands at 254 South Farragut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania outside of the house where she lived and wrote. This marker serves as a reminder of both Plumly's legacy as a writer as well as the impact in which her work had on children and adults everywhere... even in the merry old land of Oz.
This historic Philadelphia home is where poet, fiction writer, journalist, and activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper spent her later years and the location where she passed away on February 22, 1911. Born in Baltimore in 1825, she was the only child of free African American parents. After growing up in difficult conditions, she embarked on a career as a traveling speaker on the abolitionist circuit. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper also helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad and wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers. As a journalist and activist, she worked with Frederick Douglass and other reformers, earning a reputation for her writing which led some to refer to her as the "mother" of African American journalism. The house has since been named a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public during special events.
This is where the marker for Sarah Josepha Buell Hale is located. It is approximately at the location of where she lived. Hale lived in Philadelphia, PA from around the the late 1700s to the late 1800s which is around when Hale gained her historical significance. Sarah Josepha Hale was one of America's first woman editors and was also a women's rights advocate. As an editor, Hale greatly increased subscriptions to Godey's Lady's Book in four decades. She is also famous for successfully promoting a national Thanksgiving Day to President Abraham Lincoln. This particular site is publicly accessible and can be viewed from the Spruce Street in Philadelphia. This historic marker is part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission since 2015.
Hannah Callowhill Penn was the second wife of William Penn, who is credited as Pennsylvania’s founder. The pair traveled from Bristol to Pennsylvania and arrived on December 10th, 1699 (Kelley). There William acted as proprietor until he was unable to due to a series of strokes leading to his death. Afterwards, Hannah had the duty of managing all the province’s official business, being the first and only woman to do so. She can be credited with fixing major problems left behind after her husband's death. The historical marker is placed at the site where she and William stayed after arriving to Pennsylvania.
The Betsy Ross House is a historic home in Philadelphia alleged to be the site where the first American flag was created. The Arch Street residence was built around 1740, and during the 1770s it was home to local upholsterer Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross. According to popular legend, Ross was asked to sew the first Stars and Stripes flag in 1777. Most scholars are highly doubtful that Betsy Ross actually made the first American flag; the story did not emerge until nearly a century later. Today the house has been restored and preserved as a museum. It is open to the public for tours, and contains a large collection of artifacts, documents, and memorabilia relating to both Betsy Ross and the story of her sewing the first flag.
This historical marker commemorates the founding of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in December of 1833. In a Philadelphia schoolhouse, the 22 founding members gathered for the first meeting of an organization that would go on to play a pivotal role in the abolitionist movement. The PFASS changed public opinions on the morality of slavery and petitioned government officials to support anti-slavery measures. The work of these women is also acknowledged as an early foundation for the Women’s Rights Movement. One of the key founding members, Lucretia Mott, was a Quaker preacher who went on to lead the Women’s Rights Movement
Nested in the enormous and beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is the shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel. Even though Saint Katharine would have walked through the pews of the Cathedral Basilica when she lived from 1858-1955, the Cathedral Basilica would not become the site of Saint Katharine's shrine and tomb until November 18, 2018. This beautiful shrine and the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is open to visitors for prayer and daily Mass. While Saint Katharine represents a life of holiness to those of the Catholic faith, she also serves as an activist for the rights of oppressed populations, especially African Americans and Native Americans. Saint Katharine's story demonstrates a true love for helping others through evangelization and education.
Joan of Arc Statue is a gilded bronze equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc by Emmanuel Frémiet. Bought by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1890, the monument was at first placed at the east end of the Girard Avenue Bridge. Unappreciated at that location, it was moved to its present one in 1959, after being given its gilt coat in the basement of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The sculpture represents Joan of Arc, a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint, astride a horse. Her proper right hand is raised and she holds up a flag in her proper right hand. In her proper left hand she holds the reins. She is crowned with a laurel wreath and clothed in armor. A sword hangs by her proper left side. The horse is walking with its front, proper left and rear, proper right hooves raised.
Often called the "Godmother of Rock 'n Roll" and the "original soul sister," gospel singer-songwriter Sister Rosetta Tharpe was famous for her spiritual lyrics, rhythm-and-blues musical style, and distorted electric guitar playing which later became iconic in the rock 'n roll genre. Tharpe influenced artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, and in recent years, many have rediscovered her music. After living in Richmond for a decade during the height of her career, Tharpe moved to Philadelphia in 1957. She was a first-generation resident of Philadelphia's Yorktown neighborhood where she lived in a house on Master Street until her death in 1973. On October 24, 2011, a historical marker was placed in front of the former music legend's home by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. According to author Gayle Wald, Tharpe responded to claims about the "new" style of rock and roll by demonstrating that music, like everything else, has a history. "Oh, these kids and rock and roll," Tharpe exclaimed according to the author's accounts, "this is just sped up rhythm and blues."
This historical marker honors Jessie Redmon Fauset, a novelist, poet, short story writer, biographer, essayist, and literary critic. Fauset played a crucial role in the Harlem Renaissance, creating her own body of work while mentoring young writers. Fauset died on April 30, 1961. A historical marker was dedicated at this location, which was her home at the time of her death. The marker was noted as missing starting on July 19, 2018.
The Katharine Drexel Historical Marker stands today in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, by the Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and Shrine. Katharine Drexel was a philanthropist, educator, and religious sister who was born on November 26th, 1858, and passed away on March 3rd, 1955. She is known for founding a religious order, building schools for the socially downtrodden, and being canonized as a Catholic saint. Drexel’s life work included providing education for minorities, carrying out religious missions to Native American and African American Communities, and building schools. Drexel’s life is important for her contributions to social equality and helping others overcome poverty through education.
On November 29, 1832 (on her father's thirty-third birthday), Louisa May Alcott was born at Pine Place, in the Germantown neighborhood of Pennsylvania [2; 4]. The family left Germantown to live in Massachusetts when Louisa was two years old, where her abolitionist father, Amos Bronson Alcott, began a progressive school and educated his daughters along with the students. Louisa grew up to become an abolitionist in her own right, as well as a suffragist, Civil War nurse, and authoress (under the pen name A. M. Bernard) of Gothic thrillers and children's literature including Little Women [2; 3]. Pine Place is now home to the Cunningham Piano Company .
The historical marker dedicated to artist Violet Oakley (located in Philadelphia, PA) commemorates her work as a prominent female muralist and artist in other medias during the American Renaissance. Oakley’s residence (dubbed the “Cogslea”) from 1906 to her passing in 1961 stands beside the marker. Oakley was well-known as an advocate for universal peace and unity, and she acted as a proponent for the equality of oppressed individuals of her time, including women and racial minorities around the world. She observed the behavior of people with various cultures, different ethnicities, and varying worldviews, hoping to learn more about human nature. Oakley gained the most fame for her efforts in a series of mural commissions she completed for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in 1902, being the first American female artist to be commissioned for a capitol building. Her works were centered in faith and politics, primarily featuring scenes promoting unity of society and of self (both themes from William Penn’s works). The historical marker serves to commemorate Oakley, whose efforts not only empowered women of her time but also served as an example of the influence art has on societal worldviews.
Jane Bowne Haines was an educator and founded the first horticultural school for women. She was born on July 18, 1869 in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania into a Quaker family. Jane’s father created a fruit and shade-tree nursery. She can credit everything she knows to the Wyck House, her family’s home in Germantown. Since this was around the time of WWI and WWII, Jane noticed that women wanted to help and contribute to the wars, so she created The Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women. She established the school in 1910 in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Jane’s motivation was to give women a practical education in horticulture and landscape architecture.
Pearl S. Buck was an inspiring American writer who grew up in China, immersed in and learning the Chinese culture. While she was fascinated with reading and writing, she began her writing career at age six and her first published work was displayed by English-language Shanghai Mercury. Later in life, she returned to the United States and gave birth to her only child, Carol, on March 4, 1920. Carol was diagnosed with phenylketonuria. Pearl saw the issues in society, having her handicapped daughter, and many of her literature works were inspired by Carol. The Pearl S. Buck house is a National Historic Landmark of a very inspiring woman. The Pearl S. Buck House’s mission is to carry on the legacy of Pearl S. Buck and her amazing work, as well as, continuing to impact the world, as Pearl did.
Florence Seibert (October 6, 1897 - August 23, 1991) was a world-famous biochemist who was most known for her work involving the ability to test for Tuberculosis, a very deadly disease in the 1900s. The ability to test for Tuberculosis significantly decreased the death rate as health care professionals were then able to treat it which is still the case for today. Florence grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania with her family in 1897 where she contracted polio. She had difficulty walking as a child and suffered from a limp for the rest of her life due to this. However, Florence did not let this disability stop her from pursuing science, in fact, it encouraged her more to find answers. The life that Florence lived was filled with many accomplishments, travels, awards and even an autobiography that inspires young readers.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a sanctuary for wild birds of prey. The organization strives to conserve birds of prey worldwide through the use of education and research. The founder, Rosalie Edge, started her mission here in 1934. She later incorporated Hawk Mountain as a non-profit organization in 1938. Back in 1929, the Pennsylvania Game Commission had placed a large bounty on the goshawk’s head. Following the placement of the bounty, Richard Pough had photographed the dead birds of prey on the mountain floor which were later published in activist journals. Edge, an avid birder at this point in her life, had noticed the pictures and immediately sought funding to lease the land and prevent hunters from destroying the bird of prey populations. She later purchased the land and incorporated Hawk Mountain Sanctuary so other fellow birders could enjoy and study the birds of prey.
Loretta Perfectus Walsh was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 22, 1896. Her rise to fame was being the first woman to enlist in the Navy and become active-duty as well as being the first woman to be allowed into any of the Unites States Military forces. She was given the title of Chief Yeoman and was the first woman to do so in the Navy. She became an image for women to enlist in the armed forces. Her historical Marker is located in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, in Lackawanna County near where she grew up. The marker is at the intersection of West Lackawanna Avenue (State Highway 347) and Willow Avenue.
Dedicated in 1992, this historical marker honors the life of Sarah Mary Benjamin who was considered to be a "Revolutionary War heroine" for her support of the war effort. Similar to numerous other women during the American Revolution, Sarah endured the conditions faced by soldiers as she traveled with her soldier husband throughout the war, supporting the unit by preparing food, repairing uniforms, taking in laundry, and tending to wounds, but she also performed garrison duty on at least one occasion. Sarah Mary's work in this regard became well-known thanks to her remarkable capacity for sharing stories of the war in the decades that followed. The marker was placed alongside the highway near the location of the home where she lived in 1822.