Great Women in History

Great Women in History

Great Women in History 1024 683 LA County Library

Great Women in History

Learn about 4 women in history that you may have never heard of

Happy Women’s History Month!

This month, we’re celebrating the amazing contributions women have made to the world, honoring the past to inspire the future. As we reflect on the famous and notable—as well as the ordinary and everyday—achievements of women throughout history, we wanted to highlight incredible women in history that have made huge impacts on our local community and the world, but who may be unknown to most people.

These historical highlights were curated by the librarians at our 4 Cultural Resource Centers: American Indian Resource Center, Asian Pacific Resource Center, Black Resource Center, and Chicano Resource Center. Our Cultural Resource Centers were established to address the informational needs of these cultural communities, and to make information about them available to the larger community. They play an important role in supporting and preserving research and study on the social and historical aspects unique these cultural experiences.

In no particular order, we present 4 women in history that you may have never heard of.

Elizabeth Jean Peratrovich
American Indian Resource Center

Born in Petersburg, Alaska on July 4, 1911, Elizabeth Jean Peratrovich (Tlingit descent) was most known for her work and speech in support of the first anti-discrimination law in the United States. Peratrovich was a member and Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood which advocated for Native rights and U.S. Citizenship. She, along with her husband who was also a member and Grand President of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, campaigned to end discrimination against Alaska Natives. Though the anti-discrimination bill at first failed, it was again brought before the Legislature and passed by the House of Representatives. Peratrovich’s moving speech before the Senate was recognized as being significant in the passing of House Bill 14, also known as the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945. Her contributions to civil rights and equality is still recognized today. The Alaska Legislature established February 16 as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. She was also honored on the 2020 Native American $1 coin with her likeness and inscription of “Anti-Discrimination Law of 1945.”

Patsy Takemoto Mink
Asian Pacific Resource Center

Patsy Takemoto Mink (1927-2002) was a trailblazing Congresswoman who dedicated her life to eradicating racial and gender discrimination. While representing Hawaii for nearly 20 years in Congress, she made many firsts: In 1964 she was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian-American woman to serve in Congress. Later in 1974 she was the first Asian-American to run for U.S. President. Throughout her career, Mink championed the rights of immigrants, minorities, women, and children, and worked to obliterate the kind of discrimination she herself had faced. Known for her integrity, resolve, and grit, she is recognized as the major force behind Title IX, the legislation that brought academic and athletic equity to American educational institutions.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason
Black Resource Center

Bridget “Biddy” Mason arrived in Los Angeles as a slave in 1851. After being freed by the courts in 1856, she went on to become a nurse, midwife, prominent real estate entrepreneur, philanthropist, community leader, and a founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME). Mason established a home for herself and her family at 331 S Spring Street, and bought other lots that increased greatly in value as the City of Los Angeles grew, and its business district expanded to include Mason’s property. In 1991, almost a hundred years after her death in 1891, Biddy Mason Park, situated between Broadway and Spring Street at 3rd Street, was dedicated to this pioneering woman.

Learn more about Biddy Mason

Gloria Anzaldúa
Chicano Resource Center

Gloria Anzaldúa was Chicana, lesbian, feminist writer, and poet who grew up on the borderlands of Texas. She was recognized as being a scholar who gave voice to Chicanx, queer, feminist, and female identities. One of her most important contributions was as co-author of the seminal book This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color which played a major role in bringing a focus to the multicultural feminist perspective. Her work and activism have been a guiding force to help us understand the issues and challenges of life on the margins of mainstream culture and the dominant society.