WOMEN featured in the painting, Les femmes sont humaines

by Patsy Ferrell (©2018, All rights reserved)


Alice Clement (1878-1926)

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Quote:  “She may not have been the first policewoman in the country … But she was without a doubt the most prominent.”  ~ Dennis Bingham, Chicago Police Historian

Bio Sketch: In 1913, Clement took her oath as the only women detective among 90 in Chicago. Her film, "Dregs of the City” gave insight into the social issues faced by women in the city.  Due to the male-dominated police force, her movie was banned in Chicago.

Recommended Reading: "Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction" by Erika Janik (Free Preview of Chapter One, "Detective Women" featuring Alice Clement's story)

Phoolan Devi (1963-2001)


Quote: “I alone knew what I had suffered. I alone knew what it felt like to be alive but dead.” ~ Phoolan Devi

Bio Sketch: The Bandit Queen, an untouchable in India, suffered abusive tyranny and took her revenge. Following her surrender, she spent eleven years in prison. Elected to Parliament, she spent her final seven years fighting for justice, the poor and gender equality.

Recommended Reading: "I, Phoolan Devi: The Autobiography of India's Bandit Queen" by Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi was born into a poor, low-caste family in Uttar Pradesh, living in a world that gave more respect to a stray dog than to a woman. At 11, she was married off and endured beatings, rapes and persecution. She survived being kidnapped by bandits and became one of them, learning how to shoot like a man. She also found love for the first time, but her lover was brutally murdered. Without his protection, she was paraded naked through villages and gang-raped; but she survived and for three years claimed retribution for herself and all low-caste women, before negotiating her own surrender. After 11 years in prison, she is now free to tell her own story.

Josefina Guerrero (1917-1985)


Quote: “... There are amazing stories out there about women like Joey. I am pleased to revive them so we can acknowledge [women’s] roles in shaping American history.”  ~  Ben Montgomery, Author of The Leper Spy

Bio Sketch:  As the “Leper Spy” of the Philippines during WWII, Joey walked three days through a mine field to deliver a map of land mine placement, saving hundreds of U.S. and Filipinio soldiers.  She was a tireless advocate for Filipinos with leprosy.

Recommended Reading: "The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II" by Ben Montgomery

From Goodreads: The GIs called her Joey. Hundreds owed their lives to the tiny Filipina woman who was one of the top spies for the Allies during World War II, stashing explosives, tracking Japanese troop movements, and smuggling maps of fortifications across enemy lines for Gen. Douglas MacArthur. As the Battle of Manila raged, young Josefina Guerrero walked through gunfire to bandage wounds and close the eyes of the dead. Her valor earned her the Medal of Freedom, but the thing that made her an effective spy was a disease that was destroying her.

Guerrero suffered from leprosy, which so horrified the Japanese they refused to search her. After the war, army chaplains found her in a nightmarish leper colony and campaigned for the US government to do something it had never done: welcome a foreigner with leprosy. The fight brought her celebrity, which she used on radio and television to speak for other sufferers. However, the notoriety haunted her after the disease was arrested, and she had to find a way to disappear.

marie mancini (1639-1715)


Quote: “Divorce [pioneer] of the Renaissance.”  ~ Jason Porath, Author of Rejected Princesses

Bio Sketch: Married by arrangement to a husband who threatened her imprisonment and murder, Marie fled her marriage. Her memoirs, written in her name, were a beginning for other women seeking personal freedom. Gaining a legal separation, she led the way for Renaissance women to gain independence through divorce.


Recommended Reading: "Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics," by Jason Porath

From Goodreads: Blending the iconoclastic feminism of The Notorious RBG and the confident irreverence of Go the F**ck to Sleep, a brazen and empowering illustrated collection that celebrates inspirational badass women throughout history, based on the popular Tumblr blog.

Well-behaved women seldom make history. Good thing these women are far from well behaved . . .

Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891)

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Quote: “I only an Indian woman, went and saved my father and his people.” ~ Sarah Winnemucca

Bio Sketch: A Northern Paiute author, activist and educator.  She was an Indian language interpreter and a volunteer U.S. government scout.  On her 1883-84 East Coast lecture tour, she called for Indian and White equality. Autobiography — “Life Among the Paiutes”


Recommended Reading: "Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims" by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins

Intro by Mrs. Horace Mann:  Mrs. Hopkins came to the East from the Pacific coast with the courageous purpose of telling in detail to the mass of our people, "extenuating nothing and setting down naught in malice," the story of her people's trials. Finding that in extemporaneous speech she could only speak at one time of a few points, she determined to write out the most important part of what she wished to say. In fighting with her literary deficiencies she loses some of the fervid eloquence which her extraordinary colloquial command of the English language enables her to utter, but I am confident that no one would desire that her own original words should be altered. It is the first outbreak of the American Indian in human literature, and has a single aim – to tell the truth as it lies in the heart and mind of a true patriot, and one whose knowledge of the two races gives her an opportunity of comparing them justly. At this moment, when the United States seem waking up to their duty to the original possessors of our immense territory, it is of the first importance to hear what only an Indian and an Indian woman can tell. To tell it was her own deep impulse, and the dying charge given her by her father, the truly parental chief of his beloved tribe.

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)


Quote: “What becomes a crime deserving capital punishment when the tables are turned is a matter of small moment when the negro woman is the accusing party.” ~ Ida B. Wells

Bio Sketch: An African American journalist, a leader in the Civil Rights movement and Woman’s Suffrage, documented lynchings in the U.S. showing this horror as control and punishment for blacks who competed with whites.  A founder — NAACP — denied credit due to her candor, ethnicity and gender.


Recommended Reading: "Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (Negro American Biographies and Autobiographies)" by Ida B. Wells


Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was one of the foremost crusaders against black oppression. This engaging memoir tells of her private life as mother of a growing family as well as her public activities as teacher, lecturer, and journalist in her fight against attitudes and laws oppressing blacks.

"No student of black history should overlook Crusade for Justice."—William M. Tuttle, Jr., Journal of American History

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"Besides being the story of an incredibly courageous and outspoken black woman in the face of innumerable odds, the book is a valuable contribution to the social history of the United States and to the literature of the women's movement as well."—Elizabeth Kolmer, American Quarterly

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"[Wells was] a sophisticated fighter whose prose was as though as her intellect."—Walter Goodman, New York Times