Judge Viola J. Taliaferro


This week, our #FeministFriday is the incredible, Judge Viola J. Taliaferro. Prior to acquiring her law degree, she worked as a teacher, administrator, and filled a number of roles at large universities across the country. Although she had limited time as an employee, mother, and wife, at the age of 44, she enrolled at IU Maurer Law School where she specialized in family and criminal law. Her distinguished skill set and experience led to her appointment as Judge of Monroe Circuit Court VII in 1995. Judge Taliaferro has won an assortment award for her dedication to bettering the lives of the children in her community. In 2007, she was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2008, IU Maurer named its Family and Children Medication Clinic in her honor. Additionally, in 2012, Indiana Commission for Women awarded her with the Lifetime Achievement award. 

Caroline Scott Harrison


Caroline Scott Harrison was famously known for her role as First Lady and wife of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States. She married Benjamin in 1853 and they moved to Indianapolis, IN where he eventually became a U.S. Senator and then president in 1889. While she served as First Lady, she took part in a multitude of projects to empower and pave a way for women in America. She was the founder of Daughters of the American Revolution which became the largest patriotic association for women. She also played an instrumental role in convincing Johns Hopkins University Medical School to admit women by helping raise funds for the program. She passed away while her husband was still in office. Services were held in the White House East Room and then in Indianapolis. #feministfriday

Josephine Cochrane

This week, we highlight Josephine Cochrane, a pioneer and innovator that navigated outside the barriers of gender roles. Josephine was raised in Valparaiso, Indiana. She is best known for her invention of the dishwasher, which she constructed alongside mechanic George Butters. After one of her maids chipped some of her China dishes, she was inspired to come up with a way to wash dishes safely. Additionally, she wanted to relieve the maids of their duties after a full day of work. In the shed behind her home, Josephine drafted the first model of her dishwasher. She named it Cochrane’s dishwasher and it became the first mechanical device to use water pressure in place of scrubbers. Josephine was honored for her futuristic invention at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and was awarded one of the highest prizes. In 2006, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of fame.

Catt Sadler


Our #FeministFriday this week highlights TV personality and journalist Catt Sadler who was born in Martinsville, Indiana. She established her career at the early age of 11 when she appeared in the movie “Hoosiers”. Her keen interest in broadcasting and entertainment led her to Indiana University where she studied journalism. After graduating, she landed her first broadcasting job at an entertainment news channel in San Francisco. She later returned to her home state where she hosted the Hoosier Lottery and became the official emcee for the Indiana Pacers. In 2006, she was named the host of The Daily 10 on E!. During her time with E!, she covered the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmy’s and more. In 2017, Sadler took a bold stand by leaving her daytime talk show after news surfaced that her co-host was being paid double her salary. Her career in Hollywood entertainment inspired her to open a local chapter of Women Like Us in Hollywood, which assists at-risk girls in inner city schools, she also serves as the president. Additionally, her experience and skills prepared her for the role of international spokesperson for the Women Like Us foundation.

Carmen Velasquez


This week’s #FeministFriday is Carmen Velasquez, an admirable woman who dedicated her life to advocating on behalf of the migrant community. When she was a child, she was affected by polio. While being treated for the disease, she spent a majority of her youth in hospitals observing the nuns and social workers assisting patients. This experience is what first sparked her interest in advocacy. In 1941, Carmen and her Husband, Albert, moved to Indiana and started their family. Her husband was a prisoner of war and fought the Nazis in France during World War II. While he was away, she raised their 10 children and discovered her calling to help migrant farmworkers get access to the resources they needed to succeed. She did so by advocating for better working and living conditions, and identifying their material and spiritual needs. She later helped found the Associated Migrant Opportunity Services organization. Her passion for migrant lives fueled many activist efforts such as a March on the Indiana state capitol during the 1970’s.

Lovina McCarthy Streight


This week’s #FeministFriday features the life of a one-of-a-kind woman, Lovina McCarthy Streight, who served as a nurse during the Civil War. When her husband was named the commander of the 51st Indiana Volunteer Infantry, she took it upon herself to go with him. She spent her time nursing wounded soldiers back to health and was given the title “The Mother of the 51st”. In 1862, Streight was captured three times by Confederate soldiers. Twice she was exchanged for prisoners, and the last time, she took matters into her own hands and escaped. Both she and her husband survived the war and relocated to Indianapolis where she facilitated an annual reunion of the regiment. After her passing, most of her estate went toward establishing a home for elderly women.

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.