National Women’s History Month: Notable Senior Women in U.S. History
March is National Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the significant contributions women have made to shaping our nation. The month-long celebration highlights notable women who have influenced our collective culture, from the first settlers to the movers and shakers of today.
Cumberland Village has its share of amazing women right here. Some lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and personally experienced the fight for equal rights in the 1960s. Our residents witnessed many firsts: the first female astronaut, the first female Supreme Court justice, and the first female presidential candidate.
The dedication and hard work of many more prominent senior women paved the way for those who came after them. They worked as scientists and community leaders, social activists and journalists. While many of these women began their crusades at a young age, much of their work took place after the age of 50.
Notable Senior Women in United States History
Jane Addams was a social activist who led the settlement house movement, which provided job training, child care, and other social services to the poor. She was a pacifist and founded the Women’s Peace Party in 1915. In 1931, at the age of 70, Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize—becoming the first American woman to receive the honor.
Clara Barton dedicated her life to helping others, bringing supplies to soldiers during the Civil War and tending to the wounded. She founded a U.S. society of the International Red Cross and was elected its first president in 1881 when she was nearly 60 years old.
Katherine Johnson was the first female African American mathematician at NASA, whose efforts, beginning in 1953, would one day enable the nation’s first crewed spaceflight. She worked well into her 60s, and her calculations were essential for the Space Shuttle program and numerous missions—so crucial, in fact, that she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, at the age of 97.
A pioneer in investigative journalism, Ida Tarbell is best known for exposing the corrupt business practices of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, leading to the company’s dissolution in 1911. She covered issues such as worker’s rights and import tariffs, ushering in the era of reform journalism.
Former slave, Sojourner Truth was an outspoken abolitionist who fought for racial and gender equality. She traveled the nation speaking on the evils of slavery, combating false ideas regarding gender and race in her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in 1851. After the Civil War, she continued to advance equal rights by lobbying against segregation in Washington, D.C.
Celebrate Senior Women This Women’s History Month
Female activists are diverse in their backgrounds—young and old, rich and poor, single and married—but their dedication to improving the lives of others remains the same. Like the women of Cumberland Village in Aiken, South Carolina, they have lived through some of the most critical moments of U.S. history. Their contributions have forever changed our society.