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Wisconsin women have made many contributions to state and national history, yet our textbooks often reduce women's history to the campaign for suffrage at the expense of everything else. While the right to vote was indeed an important victory for women, it's just one of many issues that women have sought to change. Wisconsin women of many races, classes and ethnic groups left their mark on our history.
This article explores the stories of 10 Wisconsin women overlooked by history. We hope it inspires you to take a deeper dive into the lives of the amazing women who shaped, and continue to shape, our state. Ho-poe-kaw was a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, who according to oral traditions have been in Wisconsin for time immemorial. Ho-poe-kaw was the first individual woman ever documented in French immigrant historical records.
According to oral history, Ho-poe-kaw was the daughter of a powerful Ho-Chunk chief. Aroundshe was selected to succeed him and lead the largest Ho-Chunk village, which was east of Lake Winnebago near modern-day Neenah. He reed his commission with the French army and lived as a fur trader. Ho-poe-kaw stayed in her tribal land with her two sons and led her Lonely black female in Racine for about forty years. She grew up in New York with a passion for education, attending some of the best boarding schools in the area. She moved to the Kaukauna area of Wisconsin during the mass removal and migration of native peoples from New York in A year after arriving, Quinney opened a school — the first one in Wisconsin that did not charge an enrollment fee.
She taught both Native and white children, many who could not have attended school if there had been a fee, and had forty to fifty children in her class at a time. Betsy Thunder was born near Black River Falls in the s, although her exact birth year is unknown. Thunder married a medicine man who was much older than she was. He taught her how to collect, prepare, and administer traditional and ceremonial medicine, and hoped that she would pass the knowledge and skills on to the next generation after his death.
She treated both Ho-Chunk and white patients, despite knowing little English. Thunder became well known in the area for her skill with medicine. As was the custom for Ho-Chunk healers, Thunder received gifts of clothing, food, or blankets as payment for her work. One of her patients gave her lumber to build a small cabin in the town of Shamrock, and the people of the town built the cabin in appreciation.
In the early s, the U. Thunder hid in the hills of Jackson County and remained in Wisconsin until her death. Ardie Clark Halyard was born in Covington, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers. She graduated from Atlanta University and settled in Milwaukee with her husband in This Milwaukee establishment helped many African Americans secure home loans free from discrimination based on race and thus have the same home-owning opportunities as whites.
With Father James E. The Whites who were teaching were telling us things about life elsewhere. She was born to Demus and Willie C. The integrated campus provided a safe cocoon in a part of the country raging with segregation and discrimination. She never saw a reason to leave after settling in Madison to raise her daughter and being embraced by UW-Whitewater.
Inthe school honored her by naming a campus performance space the Hicklin Studio Theatre. I am so proud to tell people about it. She has similar feelings for the Society, which she served as a member of the Board of Curators for 27 years — and as its trailblazing president from to Ellen Ainsworth was born in and raised in Glenwood City, Wisconsin.
She graduated from nursing school in Minneapolis in In March she enlisted in the U. Army Nurse Corps, in which she served as Second Lieutenant. She served in Tunisia, a country in North Africa, before being sent to Anzio, Italy, where American and British troops were planning a surprise attack on Germany. The 56th Evacuation Hospital she worked in was hit by a German artillery shell on February 10, Despite being struck in the chest by a piece of shrapnel, Ainsworth and three other nurses worked to evacuate forty-two patients to safety.
Six days after the attack, Ainsworth died from her injuries. After her death she was awarded the Red Cross Bronze Medal, a Purple Heart medal, and, along with the other nurses involved in the attack, the Silver Star medal — the third-highest honor awarded by the military Lonely black female in Racine for bravery. These nurses were the first women to receive this commendation from the Army. Philip K. Danhauser, who had played on two state championship teams in andwas the first Racine native to play for her hometown team in the league.
As a first base player for the Belles, she had a. Danhauser played eight seasons for the Belles before refusing to relocate with the team from Racine to Battle Creek, Michigan. She later married and changed her last name to Brown. Margaret Danhauser Brown died on January 6, After high school, she gave up several college scholarships to care for a sister in Virginia who was sick.
She took night classes there, sometimes going without eating to afford school — and when World War II broke out, she went to work for the federal agency now known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA. She had three sons. On an ICF trip to Japan inshe was impressed by their system of recycling after watching people set out sorted waste materials every day. Back in Wisconsin, Zantow discovered that her county landfill was closing early and there was no new one ready to take its place. When she studied the heaping piles of waste material at the landfill, she noticed how much of it was plastic, so she became determined to make plastic recycling possible.
She did a lot of research, figured out how to identify different kinds of plastic, and convinced a local manufacturer to use recycled plastic when making new products. Then she and her friend Jenny Ehl started a recycling collection center in Sauk County. In addition to the hard physical work of processing recyclable materials at their center, they spoke to schools and community groups, explaining the benefits of recycling and helping people set up their own local programs.
She also developed the system that is now used worldwide to identify and separate the seven different types of plastic for recycling. Look for the ed triangle on the bottom of the next plastic product you buy! Anita Herrera was born in San Antonio, Texas, in She was the 7th in a family of 9 children whose parents had also been born in Texas; their grandparents were born in Mexico. When Anita was 6 years old, her family became migrant farm workers. To this day, however, the family still owns property in Texas.
As Anita worked in the fields with her family, picking fruits and vegetables. When she started ninth grade, they were living out in the country, and she had to walk a mile to get to and from the bus that went to her high school in Kenosha. Her mother was afraid for her to be walking by herself and told her she could quit school, but Anita was determined to improve her Lonely black female in Racine by continuing her education.
Herrera directed the Spanish Center of Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth Counties, where she was an advocate for employment opportunities for Latinos, African Americans, and others. Later she directed a weatherization program for the Racine Spanish Center. Ingrid Washinawatok was a member of the Menominee Nation.
At age 14, she ed the movement to re-establish the Menominee as a federally recognized tribe. She also lectured worldwide on indigenous rights and co-produced the documentary film Warrior. InWashinawatok and two other advocates were invited to the South American country of Colombia to help an indigenous community establish an education program for children. On their return trip, she and her two colleagues were kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, which has been in armed conflict with the Colombian government for decades.
All three were killed several days later. She ed the U. Navy and underwent extensive training as an undersea medical officer. Ased as medical department head for a submarine squadron, she performed numerous dives to evacuate U. After that asment, she trained in aeromedicine and became a naval flight surgeon, practicing medicine in the most challenging environments.
NASA selected Clark for astronaut training in On the day mission, the STS crew successfully conducted more than 80 experiments, including astronaut health and safety studies and technology development, and Clark helped create an astronaut treadmill for the international space station. As it returned to Earth on February 1,however, the Columbia broke apart over Texas during re-entry, just 16 minutes before it was due to land in Florida.
Clark and the six other crew members Lonely black female in Racine the STS mission perished. Moua was born in the Southeast Asian country of Laos. During the Vietnam War, she and her family fled Laos for a refugee camp in Thailand and then, after four years, relocated to the U. After living in Rhode Island for a short time, they settled in Appleton, Wisconsin, where they were one of few families of color in an area where most residents were white and Catholic.
The adjustment was challenging, and Moua clung tightly to her Hmong roots for strength. She also ed the Girl Scouts, the debate club, and the basketball team, and sang in the choir at the Catholic church. She attended Brown University in Rhode Island to study medicine, but when she discovered her passion for politics, she switched her focus to public policy and studied issues of poverty, welfare, and Medicare. Moua became a junior fellow at Princeton University in New Jersey, and she received a Woodrow Wilson fellowship to study public policy at the University of Texas-Austin.
She was re-elected two more times and served a total of nine years in the Minnesota Senate. InMoua began to study law at the University of Minnesota. She got a taste for running a political campaign when she helped her uncle, Neal Thao, get elected to the St. Paul School Board. When a Minnesota Senate seat became vacant inMoua decided to run. She won the special election with 60 percent of the vote.
Moua chaired the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee and was a voice for civil rights, education, housing, economic development and safety. After retiring inshe became the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an organization that works to promote human and civil rights for Asian Americans and social equity for all.
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10 Wisconsin Women Overlooked by History | Wisconsin Historical Society