If you scan the annals of distinguished women in American history, culture and science, you’ll find that a surprising number of them had distinctive names as well, names that could provide unique-ish choices with interesting back-stories. Several of them have a funky, fusty period flavor that may or may not appeal. What do you think?
AbbaGoold Woolson– a turn-of-the-last century teacher-author, remembered for her liberating efforts against ‘the physical discomfort and disease caused by corsets and other constricting forms of dress.’
AdelinaPatti, christened Adela, was a renowned operatic soprano, the daughter of Italian opera singers, who could sing some of the most difficult arias by the age of four.
AlbionFellows Bacon (named for her father)— a housing reformer who pushed laws to regulate housing sanitation of tenements.
Alta Weiss was a double threat—a pitcher with a men’s semi-pro baseball team who went on to become a doctor.
AlzinaStevens–an Ohio labor leader, journalist and settlement worker who lobbied for child labor laws.
Asta Nielsen– a Danish silent film actress who was one of the most popular leading ladies of the 1910s and one of the first international movie stars. She named her only child Jesta.
BelvaLockwood— the first woman to plead a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and the second female to run for president.
Bessica Raiche—In addition to being a physician, dentist, musician and businesswoman, Bessica Medlar Raich was the first woman in the U.S. credited with flying solo in an airplane.
Bethenia Owens–Adair–among the first certified female doctors in the West, also a feminist and social reformer.
CathayWilliams was a freed slave who, determined to fight with the Union army in the Civil War, pretended to be a man, enlisted as WilliamCathay, becoming the first African- American female soldier.
ClarinaNichols—a nineteenth century newspaper editor and woman’s rights leader.
ClemenceHaned Lozier—a nineteenth century physician instrumental in establishing an early medical school for women and an ardent suffragist.
Clementina Rind– a Colonial period printer and newspaper editor, taking over The Virginia Gazette upon the death of her husband in 1773, exhibiting great independence and literary skill.
EdmoniaLewis, a half African-American, half Chippewa sculptor whose dual heritage was reflected in her work; executed in the neoclassic style.
EffaManley, the owner and manager of the Newark Eagles baseball team, was called the Queen of the Negro Leagues.
ErminnieSmith—daughter of Ermina—was an ethnologist and mineralogist, particularly interested in the “Six Nations” of the Iroquois nation.
FideliaBridges– a successful watercolor painter who had once served as governess to MarkTwain’s three little girls.
FlorineStettheimer was a between-the-two-World Wars painter whose work was shown at MOMA, and was with her two sisters at the center of a cultural salon that attracted such figures as Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O’Keeffe and SherwoodAnderson.
GertyCori was a biochemist who became the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science, and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1947.
LeontynePrice was the first African-American opera superstar; her 1961 debut in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the Met received a 42-minute ovation.
Louisine Havemeyer—suffragist, philanthropist and art collector who was introduced to the then- avant garde Impressionism by Mary Cassatt.
MarillaRicker was a lawyer/suffragist who espoused the causes of free thought, birth control, political equality, and, especially, prison reform.
MaritaOdette Bonner was a Harlem Renaissance writer, whose most famous essay is “On Being Young—A Woman—and Colored.”
MarvelCrosson was a pioneer ‘aviatrix’; in 1929 she set a new altitude record for women.
MettaFullerVictor was a popular and prolific nineteenth century author and editor of several magazines, in addition to bearing nine children (including a little Metta and a Vivia).
MyrtillaMiner was a pioneer in teacher education for black women.
OsaJohnson, with her husband Martin, researched and explored the cultures and wildlife of extreme habitats and became a well-known pop culture figure,
Oveta Culp Hobby was the first director of the WACs and the first woman to serve as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in a presidential cabinet.
PeninaMoïse was a widely published Jewish poet, essayist and hymnist.