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Short List of Notable Women in Los Angeles History

(Listed Alphabetically)

Margaret Q. Adams – first woman deputy sheriff in U.S.

Ethel Percy Andrus – founder of AARP and National Retired Teachers Association and first woman principal of a California high school.

Charlotta Spears Bass – African American newspaper editor and civil rights activist

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke – first African American to serve on L.A. County Board of Supervisors

Dr. Rose Bullard - first and only woman physician to elected as President of the Los Angeles County Medical Association (1903).  She was a distinguished nationally-recognized surgeon and was one of the first physicians to employ spinal anesthesia during labor.

Aurora Castillo – cofounder of Mothers of East Los Angeles

Dorothy Chandler – civic leader and philanthropist. Spearheaded fundraising for Music Center

Lily Lee Chen – former Mayor of Monterey Park and first Chinese American woman mayor in U.S.

Clara Foltz – California’s first woman attorney and first woman deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County

Helen Gahagan Douglas –Congresswoman and first California woman to receive major party backing for a U.S. Senate race

Amelia Earhart – aviation pioneer

Katherine Edson – first woman appointed to major California state post (Chief of the California Division of Industrial Welfare)

Dr. Elizabeth Follansbee – Southern California’s first woman physician

Mary Gibson – social activist and Co-founder of L.A. Woman’s Club and Friday Morning Club

Dora Haynes – founder of L.A. Chapter of the League of Woman Voters

Minerva Hoyt – desert preservationist who helped to create Joshua Tree National Monument

Bella Lewitzky – founder of internationally acclaimed Bella Lewitzky Dance Company

Biddy Mason – former slave who became entrepreneur, landowner, philanthropist and cofounder of First AME Church

Aimee Semple McPherson – founder of Angelus Temple and the Church of the Four Square Gospel

Dr. Henrietta Mears renowned Sunday School curriculum pioneer named as one of the outstanind religious leaders of the 20th Century by Christianity Today Magazine.

Gloria Molina – first woman elected to L.A. County Board of Supervisors

Beverly O’Neill – first woman mayor of Long Beach

Mary Pickford – actress and cofounder of United Artists

Sally Ride – astronaut and first American woman in space

Christine Sterling – leader of Olvera Street restoration

Harriet Strong – agriculturist, inventor, activist, first woman elected to L.A. Chamber of Commerce

Loretta Thompson-Glickman - first African American female Mayor of Pasadena and first African American female member (volunteer) of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

Dr. Sarah Vasen - first Jewish woman doctor in L.A. and first superintendent and resident physician of Kaspare Cohn Hospital (later Cedars-Sinai Hospital)

Dr. Vada Watson Sommerville - first African American woman licensed to practice dentistry in California and co-founder of the historic Dunbar Hotel and the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP

Alice Stebbin Wells – first woman police officer in U.S. (LAPD)

Mary Workman – “Catholic conscience of L.A.,” social work pioneer and kindergarten education pioneer

Carmen Zapata – founder of Bilingual Foundation of the Arts

“Rosie the Riveter” – thousands of unnamed women who sustained the aviation war industry during WWII



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