4: Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt (Hartford)
First woman in America to establish a major art collection. She was married to Samuel Colt, and became one of the wealthiest women in the country after his death. Known as “The First Lady of Hartford,” she helped found and presided over many organizations, including the Union for Home Work, the Hartford Decorative Arts Society, and the Hartford Soldiers’ Aid Society.
6: Prudence Crandall (Canterbury)
Abolitionist and teacher, Crandall was designated the state’s official heroine in 1995. She founded academies for women, including “Young Ladies of Color” in Canterbury — the first academy in New England for African-American women and girls.
8: Ella Grasso (Windsor Locks)
First woman in the nation to be elected governor (1974), capping a 20-plus-year winning streak since first being elected to the General Assembly (1952). In 1955 Grasso was the first woman elected floor leader. From 1958-70, as Connecticut’s secretary of the state, she turned the office into a “people’s lobby” in which ordinary citizens could air grievances or seek advice. During this period, Grasso became the first woman to chair the Democratic State Platform Committee.
9: Kristen Griest (Orange)
Capt. Griest is one of two first women, along with Shaye Lynne Haver, to graduate from the Army’s prestigious Ranger School (2015) and was ranked 34th on Fortune magazine’s 2016 list of the World’s Greatest Leaders list. She also became the Army’s first female infantry officer.
12: Katharine Hepburn (Hartford and Old Saybrook)
With her fierce sense of independence and style, Hepburn became the first leading lady in Hollywood to eschew the norm and wear trousers on screen. Her defiance set in motion the epitome of a “modern woman’s” style in 20th-century America.
14: Emeline Robert Jones (New Haven)
As the first woman to practice dentistry in the U.S., she worked on the teeth of Connecticut residents before the Civil War. After her husband died in 1864, she supported herself and her two children by traveling across Connecticut and Rhode Island with her portable dentist’s chair, then established a practice in New Haven until 1915 when she retired.
15: Mary Kies (Killingly)
Inventor and first woman in the U.S. to receive a patent in her own name, signed by President James Madison in 1809. Kies created a new technique of weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats.
17: Dollie McLean (Hartford)
In 1971, McLean became thefirst person to initiate the acquisition of works by African-American artists at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum, and the first to mount exhibitions of African, Puerto Rican and African-American art in 1972 as part of the Artists Collective, now a premier multi-arts institution.
21: Alice Paul (Ridgefield)
Dedicating her life to the equality of women and one of the leaders of the suffrage movement, Paul was the founder of the National Women’s Party in 1917, and in 1923 introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment in Congress.
6: Julia Evelina Smith (Glastonbury)
One of five extraordinary sisters dedicated to social causes, Smith was a women’s suffrage and education activist and author. With a working knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and eight years of work, Smith became the only woman in history to have her translation of the Bible from its original languages published. It came out in 1876.
30: Mabel Osgood Wright (Fairfield)
Founder and first president of Connecticut Audubon Society and Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary in Fairfield, the first bird sanctuary of its kind. She wrote Birdcraft, the first accessible bird manual.
Mabel Osgood Wright
Founder and first president of Connecticut Audubon Society
"Sometimes Mabel Osgood Wright could be found behind a camera snapping beautiful photographs of nature. Other times she spent writing books for children and adults and helping them to better appreciate the beauty of the natural world. In between, she found peace while gardening in her backyard. Best known for founding the Connecticut Audubon Society and the Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary in Fairfield, Conn., Wright dedicated her life to preservation and the promotion of natural beauty."
First female American war journalist
"Margaret Bourke-White was a woman of many firsts: first female photographer for Life magazine, first female war correspondent, first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union. The tough-minded and talented Bourke-White was driven by more than mere ambition. She had a deep-rooted belief in an artist’s duty to change the world. Known to her Life colleagues as “Maggie the Indestructible,” Bourke-White documented some of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century." - Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame
Fostered the Impressionist Art Movement in American
"In 1899, Henry Ward Ranger, a painter recently returned from Europe, arrived in Old Lyme and found [Griswold's boarding house] an ideal place to establish a new center of American art. He settled at Griswold’s boarding house and the Old Lyme Art Colony was born. Over the next decade, Griswold hosted artists drawn to the allure of Connecticut’s picturesque rural setting, and her home became the center for America’s Impressionist artists, leading some to label Old Lyme the Giverny of America." - Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame
Founder of Miss Porter's School
"When Sarah Porter opened her school for girls in Farmington in 1847, she was a classically-educated woman who hoped to prepare her students for a lifetime of intellectual and cultural development. Like earlier evangelically-minded women, including Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke, and Catharine Beecher, founder of the Hartford Female Seminary, Porter believed that women should be the beneficiaries of a rigorous and comprehensive course of study to prepare them for the future as guardians of a virtuous republic."
Theodate Pope Riddle
n 1898, at a time when architecture schools were reserved to men, self-taught Theodate Pope Riddle convinced her parents to move to Connecticut and buy a tract of land in Farmington where she planned to build them a house, now known as the Hill-Stead Museum. She hired the firm of McKim, Mead and White in New York City, instructing them to use her own sketches and essentially creating an apprenticeship for herself. Pope Riddle went on to design many Connecticut landmarks, including the college preparatory school Avon Old Farms.
Among the first women to practice landscape architecture in the United States, Beatrix Farrand undertook projects ranging from White House gardens and private university campuses like Princeton and Yale to estate plans for some of America’s most prominent families. She was also the only woman among the founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects and is considered one of the most important landscape architects of the twentieth century. Farrand used her extensive understanding of horticulture and her impressive eye for design to create some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the nation, including several major works in Connecticut.
Annie Leibovitz’s large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time. She has photographed a wide array of subjects ranging from presidents and queens to rock stars, athletes and ordinary people. Leibovitz is widely regarded as the major chronicler of twentieth-century culture.
Anna-Lou Leibovitz was born in Waterbury, Conn
Ann Lane Petry was a Connecticut writer whose novel The Street was one of the first to address the experiences of black women in terms of race, class and gender. Her ground-breaking novel, published in 1946, was also the first book by an African-American woman to sell over 1 million copies. In its vivid descriptions of street culture and the hard life endured by the main characters, The Street portrayed the day-to-day existence of the residents of Harlem.
Dr. Emily Dunning Barringer, a long-time resident of New Canaan, Conn., was an established physician and pioneer for women in medicine when she wrote her autobiography, Bowery to Bellevue: The Story of New York’s First Woman Ambulance Surgeon, in 1950. The book contained details of Barringer’s determination to overcome the barriers that limited female physicians at the turn of the century; her experiences as New York City’s first female ambulance surgeon; and her appointment as the first woman to serve on the staff of a general municipal hospital in the city.
Anna Louise James: A Pioneer African-American Female Pharmacist
Born January 19, 1886, Anna Louise James made history as one of the first African-American female pharmacists and the first African-American woman to graduate from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy.
Anna was the daughter of a Virginia plantation slave who escaped to Connecticut. When other kids were playing games, Anna focused on her education. As a child, she was committed to learning, reading and schooling.