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Some Notable Women
in Los Angeles History

Portrait of Biddy Mason, 1818-1891

Biddy Mason, 1818-1891. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.

(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.

Romana Acosta Bañuelos - first Hispanic Treasurer of the United States.

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.

Octavia E. Butler - first successful African American woman science fiction writer. Among awards received by this Pasadena native was the Hugo Award, Locus Awards, Nebula Award and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award.

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 – co-founder 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.

Amelia Earhart – one of America's great aviation pioneers.

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.

Clara Shortridge Foltz – California’s first woman attorney, nation's first woman deputy district attorney (Los Angeles County), first woman candidate for California governor.

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

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 a pioneer entrepreneur, landowner, philanthropist and co-founder of Los Angeles 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 co-founder 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.