Honored: 2009 (1849 - 1887)
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." These famous words from The New Colossus
, were written by Emma Lazarus, one of the first successful Jewish American authors. Originally created in 1883, the sonnet was later engraved in bronze and placed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Throughout her lifetime, Lazarus authored and published numerous poems, essays, letters, short stories and translations. She was an important forerunner of the Zionist movement, having argued for the creation of a Jewish homeland thirteen years before the term Zionist was even coined.
Honored: 2013 (1787 - 1870)
During her lifetime, Emma Hart Willard blazed an extraordinary trail on behalf of women’s education. A teacher by trade, Willard opened a girls’ school in her home in 1814 and was struck by the contrast between the education she could offer her female students and the education provided to men at nearby Middlebury College. She crafted A Plan for Improving Female Education
, a document in which she advocated equal education for women at the academy level. In 1819, at the encouragement of Governor DeWitt Clinton, Willard opened a school in Waterford, New York which closed shortly afterward due to a lack of funding. Two years later, she founded Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York (1821), the first school of higher learning for women. The seminary was renamed the Emma Willard School in her honor in 1895.
Honored: 2000 (1848 - 1927)
President of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, successfully ran the campaign that resulted in Washington becoming the first state in the 20th century to grant full enfranchisement to women in 1910, a full decade before passage of the 19th Amendment. DeVoe established the first national organization of voting women, which eventually merged with the National League of Women Voters, leaving an invaluable legacy about the importance of the educated use of the franchise.
Honored: 1996 (1810 - 1892)
Early advocate for women's rights, traveling for more than three decades giving eloquent speeches and seeking petition signatures. Rose sought women's rights, the abolition of slavery and many other reforms before others took up the causes. From 1835 through 1869, she was often the first woman to speak in public on many platforms.
Honored: 1993 (1906 - 1997)
Catalyst for change in the labor, women's and consumer movements. The driving force behind President Kennedy's creation of the first Presidential Commission on Women in 1962, Peterson headed the Women's Bureau in the Department of Labor. She also served Presidents Johnson and Carter, and served at the United Nations under President Clinton.
Honored: 1993 (1884 - 1967)
Founded the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to help older Americans cope effectively in their later years. Her organization, now 36 million members strong and a political lobbying force, helps with health insurance, career assistance and discounts for senior citizens.
Honored: 2000 (1909 - 2001)
One of the most significant writers of the 20th century, Eudora Welty won many notable literary prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist's Daughter
. Her work is marked by what critic Jonathan Yardley called an "abiding tolerance...a refusal to pass judgment on the actors in the human comedy," and it transcends generations and national boundaries. In 1998, the Library of America recognized her literary accomplishments by honoring her as the first living author published in the prestigious Library of America series.
Honored: 1998 (1921 - 2009)
For more than thirty years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver served as a leader in the worldwide struggle to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Under her leadership, the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation aided in the creation of The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation (1961) and the development of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (1962). Shriver is credited as the founder of the Special Olympics, an organization that today serves 3 million people with intellectual disabilities in nearly 200 nations around the world.
Honored: 1993 (1917 - 1977)
Mississippi sharecropper and organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Party, which challenged the white domination of the Democratic Party. Hamer succeeded in integrating the state delegation, and she was a tireless champion for poor minorities in her state and nationwide.
Honored: 1994 (1795 - 1852)
First American woman to speak out against slavery and for the equality of women. An inspiration to Stanton, Anthony and other women's equality advocates, Wright wrote and spoke out publicly for equal rights for all at a time when women were not accepted in such roles.