Virginia Ellis Jenckes



Virginia Ellis Jenckes was the first woman from Indiana ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives when she unseated a 16-year veteran Congressman for her position. She was born in Terre Haute, IN in 1877 where she grew up and eventually got married and started a family. But when her husband passed away in 1921, she was left to raise their daughter and tend to their farm all on her own. Through her work on the farm, she began lobbying for flood control resolution which launched her pathway to politics. After winning her congressional race in 1932, she became the first woman to be appointed a U.S. delegate to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Paris. She retired from Congress in 1939 and campaigned for women running for office in Indiana until she was 92 years old.

Opha May Jacob Johnson


Opha May Jacob Johnson was born in Kokomo in 1878 and became the first female Marine in the United State Marine Corps Women in 1918. Moved and motivated to serve her country during WW1, she was the first in a line of 300 women to enlist in the Marines and thus, made history with her action. Although the war came to an end a few months after her enrollment, she returned to civil service in 1919 as a clerk in the War Department, a year before she could even vote. Today over 12,000 women are enlisted in the Marine Corps and 1,300 of them are officers. She passed away in August of 1955 and her funeral was held on August 13th, 37 years to the day from when she decided to answer the call to become a Marine. Opha will be inducted into the Hall of Legends class in Howard County in a ceremony that is taking place today. #feministfriday

Jane Pauley


Jane Pauley is a 5th generation Hoosier who was born in Indianapolis and attended Warren Central High School and Indiana University. She is well-known for her work as a co-host on the Today show and Dateline NBC. She also hosted her own talk show, The Jane Pauley Show, and has received multiple Emmy awards. Locally, she has lent her name to fifteen Jane Pauley Community Health Centers, mostly on the east side of Indianapolis, that serve the community's health needs regardless of insurance or income. Her memoir, “Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue”, discusses her bipolar disorder diagnosis and was a New York Times bestseller.

Sierra Wiese


Sierra Wiese is a Junior at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in Political Science and receiving a Political and Civic Engagement certificate. She is originally from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and attended Jeffersonville High School where she was highly involved with local school board campaigns, elections, and student government. She has been named a Cox Research scholar and is conducting extensive research on gerrymandering and the measures used to determine if a district is gerrymandered. She is working on this project under Professor William Bianco and Professor Bernard Fraga. Her freshman year, she was able to speak at the Indiana House committee hearing on House Bill 1014 about her findings. Keep up the good work, Sierra! 

Rhoda Coffin


Rhoda Coffin spent her life fighting for the rights of incarcerated women. Based in Richmond, Indiana, her charitable work began in the 1850s and she eventually became a leading figure in the prison reform movement. Because of her efforts, the Indiana Reformatory Institute for Women and Girls opened its doors in 1873 and it was the country’s first prison controlled by women. Her perspective on the need for women's rights and equality was shaped by her work with prison reform and she also supported equal pay and the right for a woman to "hold positions for which she was qualified" in the workplace.

Angela Brown


Angela Brown is an accomplished soprano singer who was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. While in high school, she was very involved in the Crispus Attucks High School music program and eventually went to graduate school at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. In 1997, she moved to New York City and began working with a variety of opera companies. When she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Aida, her performance landed her on the front page of the New York Times. Throughout her career, she has performed with the San Antonio Symphony, the Cincinnati Opera, the Indianapolis Opera and was called "one of America’s most promising Verdi sopranos" by Opera News. Brown consistently uses her platform for philanthropic purposes and has been a spokesperson for the United Negro College Fund and produces free concerts in hopes of exposing people to the beautiful art of opera.

Dr. Martha E. Bernal


Dr. Martha E. Bernal was born in 1931 in San Antonio, TX to parents who emigrated from Mexico as young adults. During her time in high school, her instructors discouraged girls from taking classes like advanced math and were generally unsupportive of their academic success. Even so, once she graduated she decided to pursue higher education and receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field of psychology. She eventually moved to Bloomington, IN and became the first Mexican woman to earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, which she received from Indiana University in 1962. Despite this accomplishment, many academic institutions would still not hire a woman, so she turned her attention to research. She was finally given a teaching position in 1969 at the University of Arizona and through her work, received many acknowledgments and awards. In 2001, she was given the Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest Award. However, she passed away from cancer in September of that year and was not able to accept it.