Home | All Almanac Topics | People

Short List of Notable Women
in Los Angeles History

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

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 – 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

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

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