Celebrating Women’s History Month with Cleveland Public Library

Stacey Abrams

December 9, 1973

The politician, lawyer, and author founded Fair Fight Action, an organization to address voter suppression. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in the 2020 election.

Halle Berry

August 14, 1966

The Cleveland native and award-winning actress began her career as a model. Her breakthrough film role was in Boomerang. Her numerous accolades include the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Frances Bolton

March 29, 1885 – March 9, 1977

The first woman elected to Congress from Ohio opposed the Selective Service Act, called for desegregation of the military nursing units, and supported the United Nations, especially UNICEF.

Minerva Kline Brooks

1893-May 5, 1929

The Cleveland-native was a supporter of the women’s suffrage movement and was active in the arts scene, helping to form the Cleveland Play House in 1915.

Lois McMaster Bujold

November 2, 1949

The Columbus-native is one of the most acclaimed speculative fiction writers, having won the Hugo Award for best novel four times.

Shirley Chisholm

 November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005

In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress, representing New York for seven terms. She was the first African American to seek the nomination for president in 1972.

Florence Bundy Fairfax

December 24, 1907 6 March 6, 1970

The first woman elected to Congress from Ohio opposed the Selective Service Act, called for desegregation of the military nursing units, and supported the United Nations, especially UNICEF.

Aretha Franklin

March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018

Known as the Queen of Soul, Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at her father’s church in Detroit. Her hit songs include “Respect”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer.”

Norma Jean Freeman

January 23, 1939 – November 4, 2019

Freeman served her community in many capacities including as a librarian at Cleveland Public Library, a health educator at Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and a volunteer at League Park Center.

Dorothy Fuldheim

June 26, 1893 – November 3, 1989

Fuldheim joined Cleveland’s first television station, WEWS in December, 1947. Fuldheim became the first woman in the country with her own news show.

Jane Edna Hunter

December 13, 1882 – January 19, 1971

The social worker worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children and families. In 1911, she established the Working Girls Association in Cleveland, which later became the Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland.

Zora Neale Hurston

January 7, 1891- January 28, 1960

An author, anthropologist, and filmmaker, Hurston’s works portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South. The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937.

Rowena Woodham Jeliffe

March 23, 1892 – April 5, 1992

The Ohio native and co-founder of Karamu House became a pioneer in the field of interracial theater. The Civil Rights activist also helped to integrate the Wade Park Manor dining room in 1926.

Nicole Miriam Lapin

March 7, 1984

Lapin is a financial expert, author, and entrepreneur. She is the host for the business reality show competition Hatched and a Hush Money podcast hostess on iHeart Radio.

Fannie Lewis

June 6, 1926 August 11, 2008

Lewis was Cleveland’s longest-serving councilwoman and civil rights activist, best known for the Fannie Lewis Law requiring government contracts in Cleveland provide for employment of local workers.

Mary Brown Martin

May 31, 1977 – November 18, 1939

The first Black woman elected to the Cleveland Board of Education was the only public school teacher on the board. In 1962, Mary B. Martin School at 8200 Brookline Avenue was named in her honor.

Lucia McCurdy McBride

July 21, 1880 – January 18, 1970

McBride fought for women’s suffrage. She was an organizer of the League of Women Voters. McBride played an active role in causes such as health, peace, labor, government, and family planning.

Toni Morrison

February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

The Lorain native wrote about the Black experience. She received national attention for her book, Song of Solomon. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Marjane Satrapi

November 22, 1969

Satrapi is a graphic novelist, cartoonist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author. Her best-known works include the graphic memoir, Persepolis, and its film adaptation.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor

June 25, 1954

As a young child, she dreamed of becoming an attorney while watching her favorite TV show, “Perry Mason.” Sotomayor was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009. She is also an author.

Phyllis Ann Wallace

June 9, 1921 – January 10, 1993

An economist, activist, scholar, and pioneer in the study of gender and racial discrimination in the workplace. Wallace was the first woman to receive a doctorate in economics at Yale University.

Stella Walsh

April 3, 1911 – December 4, 1980

Stella Walsh was named the greatest woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century by the Helm Athletic Foundation

Ida B. Wells

July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931

One of the founders of the NAACP, Wells dedicated her life to combating prejudice and violence, and the fight for African American equality, especially that of women.

Martha Wolfenstein

1869 – March 16, 1906

She is the first Jewish woman author to write Jewish stories for the secular press. She wrote short fiction based on her father’s reminiscences about his childhood in Central Europe.

Greta Garbo

September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990

MGM actress Greta Garbo appeared in 33 films over 21 years. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, she made a successful transition between silent and sound films in dramatic, romantic, and comedic leads.

Claudette Colbert

September 13, 1903 – July 30, 1996

Academy & Tony Award winning actress Claudette Colbert appeared in 63 films before transitioning to television. Versatile in drama and comedy she worked with such directors as DeMille and Frank Capra.

Mary Astor

May 3, 1906 – September 25, 1987

Academy Award winning actress with 115 credits, Mary Astor was among the first actresses to freelance. She has appeared in six films which the Library of Congress has selected for the National Film Registry.