Images of Women’s History in Florida

Here are just a few of the many images depicting the history of women in Florida. For more images, search the Florida Photographic Collection.

Addie Billie wearing traditional Seminole beads and patchwork (1989)
Addie Billie wearing traditional Seminole beads and patchwork (1989)

Image Number: FS89408

Susie Billie collecting medicinal plants and herbs (1985)
Susie Billie collecting medicinal plants and herbs (1985)

Image Number: FA0636

Born in Collier County at the turn of the twentieth century, Billie lived on the Big Cypress Reservation for over 35 years. Billie combined extensive knowledge of herbs and their healing properties with songs and rituals in her healing practice.

May Mann Jennings (1901)
May Mann Jennings (1901)

Image Number: GV000477

First Lady May Mann Jennings was a prominent activist and President of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs. She was instrumental in the creation of the Florida Park Service, Florida Forestry Service, and the Everglades National Park (which today includes what used to be the Royal Palm State Park, a private park she helped create in 1916 to preserve one of the last natural stands of Royal Palms). One of Florida's most powerful and important women leaders.

Eartha M.M. White (with her mother) (1910)
Eartha M.M. White (with her mother) (1910)

Image Number: PR00852

Born in Jacksonville, the 13th child of a former slave, Eartha Mary Magdalene White attended schools in Florida and New York. An educator and publisher, she established the Clara White Mission in honor of her mother during the Depression in the 1930s. She also ran a prison mission and donated property for community projects.

In 1967 she began the Eartha M.M. White Nursing Home, which grew into Jacksonville's largest employer of blacks. She was a Women's Hall of Fame inductee 1986.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1940s)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1940s)

Image Number: RC07662

Rawlings was the author of Cross Creek and the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Yearling (later made into a successful movie starring Gregory Peck, which was filmed in Central Florida.) Rawlings moved to Florida in the 1930s with her husband. She settled in Alachua County, and eventually found literary success writing about her neighbors and the local environment.

Jacqueline Cochran
Jacqueline Cochran

Image Number: RC12184

Born near Panama City about 1910, Cochran was a reporter, owner of a cosmetics firm and a test pilot.

As a pilot, she was the first woman to break the sound barrier, to fly a bomber across the Atlantic and the first civilian woman to win a Distinguished Service Medal. Later, she was elected to the Aviation Hall of Fame.

By the time of her death in 1980, she held more speed, altitude and distance records than any other pilot. She was a Florida Women's Hall of Fame inductee in 1992.

Red Cross volunteers rolling bandages (191-)
Red Cross volunteers rolling bandages (191-)

Image Number: PR13526

Lucille Lightsey and Susie Turner on right end.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy at Lakeland's Munn Park (1915)
The United Daughters of the Confederacy at Lakeland's Munn Park (1915)

Image Number: N033917

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) This group played a large role in how Florida and the rest of the South thought of its past. The group often sent history books to public schools in the early 20th Century to preserve the memory of the "Old South." By the 1920s, their view of the Civil War and Reconstruction could be found in college courses, Florida classrooms and even Hollywood movies. They also erected many Civil War monuments including Olustee Battlefield and Natural Bridge Battlefield.

Standing beside the flag: Annie Hanna Darracott; seated in front of her: Laura Tuten.

Mermaid at Weeki Wachee (1940s)
Mermaid at Weeki Wachee (1940s)

Image Number: PC5320

For much of the 20th Century, Florida's tourist attractions used images of young women to attract visitors. Florida postcards often featured bikini clad bathers, while Cypress Gardens had its Southern belles, and (pictured here) Weeki Wachee staged elaborate underwater mermaid shows.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (with family) (1870s)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (with family) (1870s)

Image Number: PR06626

Harriet Beecher Stowe abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. After the Civil War, she settled in Mandarin to educate freed slaves. She wrote Palmetto Leaves in 1873 which helped encourage early tourism to Florida.

Women's Christian Temperance Union in parade in Eustis (1910s)
Women's Christian Temperance Union in parade in Eustis (1910s)

Image Number: N030390

The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was a national activist group that successfully fought for prohibition, which outlawed the sale of alcohol. Local chapters often sponsored parades, floats, and other public displays celebrating sobriety and temperance. The WCTU reached their goal in 1920 when the 18th Amendment took effect.

State legislator Beth Johnson (1958)
State legislator Beth Johnson (1958)

Image Number: PT02685

Born in Pennsylvania in 1909 and moved to Orlando in 1934, Beth Johnson was elected to the Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1957. Johnson served as a representative until 1962 and was subsequently elected as the first woman State Senator in Florida, serving until 1967. Her chief legislative goals were the establishment of the University of Central Florida and development of planning and zoning systems. She was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.

Florida Federation of Women's Clubs float in Centennial Parade in Tallahassee (1924)
Florida Federation of Women's Clubs float in Centennial Parade in Tallahassee (1924)

Image Number: RC20356

A group involved in many issues (suffrage, temperance, conservation, preservation, welfare), the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs was the premier political group for Florida women in the first half of the 20th Century

Ivy J.C. Stranahan
Ivy J.C. Stranahan

Image Number: N035224

Fort Lauderdale pioneer who worked for rights of women and Native Americans.

She taught Seminoles at the turn of the century. While serving as the president of the state suffrage league in 1917, she lobbied in legislature for the right of women to vote. Florida Women's Hall of Fame inductee 1996.

Harriett Bedell
Harriett Bedell

Image Number: BD018

Deaconess Bedell was invited to visit a Seminole Indian reservation in southern Florida. Appalled by their living conditions, she began her campaign to improve the quality of life among the Mikasuki-Seminole Indians by living and working with them, not merely teaching them. She sought to revive the doll making and basket weaving skills which had become nearly extinct.

Photographed between 1933 and 1960.

Attorney General Janet Reno, Patricia A. Seitz and Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett (1993)
Attorney General Janet Reno, Patricia A. Seitz and Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett (1993)

Image Number: RC16567

Installation of Patricia A. Seitz as the first woman president of the Florida Bar.

L-R: U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, Patricia A. Seitz and Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett

Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Image Number: PR07037

Douglas was an environmental activist and popular author. The daughter of The Miami Herald's first publisher, Douglas worked as a journalist before publishing The River of Grass in 1947. The book became an instant classic in environmental writing, and remains in print to the present day. She lived to 108, and remained active through her life. She was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in 1986 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Clinton in 1993 for her conservation efforts.

Photographed on April 4, 1985, the day the Dept. of Natural Resources (today the Dept. of Environmental Protection) administrative building in Tallahassee was named in her honor.

Aviatrix Ruth Law and Mrs. Robert Goelet in model "B" Wright airplane: Daytona Beach, Florida (1914)
Aviatrix Ruth Law and Mrs. Robert Goelet in model "B" Wright airplane: Daytona Beach, Florida (1914)

Image Number: RC07964

Ruth Law bought her first aircraft from Orville Wright in 1912.

In 1917, she became the first woman pilot to fly for the US Army.

Roxcy Bolton (with Eleanor Roosevelt) (ca. 1953)
Roxcy Bolton (with Eleanor Roosevelt) (ca. 1953)

Image Number: N045094

For three decades, Roxcy O'Neal Bolton was Florida's leading women's rights activist.

In 1966, Bolton helped form Florida's National Organization for Women, serving as charter president of the Miami Chapter and National Vice President in 1969. She founded Women in Distress, a non-profit agency providing emergency housing, rescue service and multi-discipline assistance to women in situations of personal crisis. In 1974 she was instrumental in establishing the Rape Treatment Center, the first of its kind, at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Barbara Landstreet Frye (1949)
Barbara Landstreet Frye (1949)

Image Number: GV000651

Journalist Frye was the Capitol Bureau Chief for the United Press International (UPI) from 1944 to 1982, reporting on Florida politics through eleven gubernatorial administrations. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she earned a journalism degree at the University of Georgia before moving to Florida. She was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 1984.

Mary McLeod Bethune (c. 1915)
Mary McLeod Bethune (c. 1915)

Image Number: PR00755

One of the nations prominent educators and civil rights leaders. Her political career includes appointments to National Youth Administration by Franklin D. Roosevelt and delegate of the founding conference of the United Nations by Harry Truman.

She established a school in Daytona Beach that eventually evolved into the Bethune-Cookman College. 1982 inductee to the Florida Women's Hall of Fame.

Carita Doggett Corse (ca. 1928)
Carita Doggett Corse (ca. 1928)

Image Number: PR00415

Carita Doggett Corse was a historian and writer. She was in charge of the Works Progress Administration's (WPA's) Florida Writers Project during the New Deal. Her workers included Alton Morris, Stetson Kennedy and Zora Neale Hurston.

Daughter of John L. Doggett and Carrie Van Deman, Florida history writer. She married Herbert M. Corse in September 1921. She was the Mother of Herbert, Montgomery, John and Carita Anne.

Zora Neale Hurston (1935
Zora Neale Hurston (1935)

Image Number: FA0514

Anthropologist and writer, Hurston worked for the WPA's Federal Writers Project in the 1930s collecting Florida folklife. Today, she is better known as the author of such works as Their Eyes Were Watching God and Dust Tracks on a Road. She is pictured here collecting music from musicians Rochelle French and Gabriel Brown in Eatonville, FL.

Charity Stewart, former slave (1937)
Charity Stewart, former slave (1937)

Image Number: RC02016

Charity Stewart was born in 1844. During the Civil War she was hidden in the swamps of Jefferson County to make soap for the soldiers.

After freedom, she returned to her former owners home where she stayed until they died. For many years she lived alone in an old log house in Jefferson County. She was 93 when this photo was taken in 1937.

Home demonstration club members making rugs: Jefferson County, Florida (1941)
Home demonstration club members making rugs: Jefferson County, Florida (1941)

Image Number: N030303

Beginning in the early 20th century, Home Demonstration Club leaders traveled the countryside to educate, often through demonstrations, rural and poor women in modern methods of home making, including cooking, cleaning, sewing and canning.

Marjorie Carr, receiving award from Governor Claude Kirk (with husband Archie Carr) (1970)
Marjorie Carr, receiving award from Governor Claude Kirk (with husband Archie Carr) (1970)

Image Number: C65000-75a

A biologist and Florida environmental activist, Carr was the first female wildlife technician for the Federal government.

She founded the Florida Defenders of the Environment and successfully led the effort to stop the construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and to restore the Ocklawaha River.

Florida State College for Women (FSCW) students in the chemical lab (1940s)
Florida State College for Women (FSCW) students in the chemical lab (1940s)

Image Number: RC01349

Florida State College for Women (FSCW) served as Florida's only state-supported women's college from 1905 through 1947.

Painting logo on truck: Ocala, Florida (ca. 1940)
Painting logo on truck: Ocala, Florida (ca. 1940)

Image Number: N036087

The National Youth Administration (NYA) was a New Deal program to put young Americans to work in order to keep them in school or college. The NYA also provided educational facilities such as Camp Roosevelt in Ocala. One of the few programs aimed specifically at young women, Camp Roosevelt housed hundreds of Florida females to train them in teaching, commercial work, accounting, cosmetology and photography, as well as to send money back home to their families.

Dorothy Dodd long jumping during field day: Tallahassee, Florida (1920)
Dorothy Dodd long jumping during field day: Tallahassee, Florida (1920)

Image Number: N046545

Dodd became Florida's first State Archivist while working at the Florida State Library in Tallahassee. Later, she became State Librarian. Much of the Florida State Archives collections were first gathered and preserved through Dodd's efforts. A graduate of the Florida State College for Women with a PhD in History from the University of Chicago, she was an active Florida historian and writer.

2nd Lt. Sarah Kaplan (1940s)
2nd Lt. Sarah Kaplan (1940s)

Image Number: MS26418

Sarah Kaplan was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps who served as a nurse under General Patton in the Battle of the Bulge.

She was discharged in [February] 1946. Her husband Samuel Kaplan was the first doctor to practice in Venice [Florida] and later became instrumental in starting the first hospital there. The Kaplans came to Venice in 1949 and for decades were the only Jews who lived there

Representative Carrie Meek (1980)
Representative Carrie Meek (1980)

Image Number: N035226

Representative Meek wore this prophetic T-shirt in the House chamber. She was later elected to the Senate and then to the US Congress. Meek was the first African-American women to be elected to the Florida Senate. She was a 1992 Florida Women's Hall of Fame inductee.

Betty Castor (1985)
Betty Castor (1985)

Image Number: PT02734

Florida's first female cabinet member, Castor was President pro tempore in the Senate from 1985-86.

Served as a Florida State Senator from 1976 to 1986 and as Florida's Commissioner of Education from 1986 to 1994.

Photographed between 1984 and 1986.

Folklorists Thelma Boltin, Peggy Bulger and Doris Dyen at the 1982 Florida Folk Festival (1982)
Folklorists Thelma Boltin, Peggy Bulger and Doris Dyen at the 1982 Florida Folk Festival (1982)

Image Number: FS82224

Thelma Boltin was the director of the Florida Folk Festival from 1954 until her death in 1992.

Peggy A. Bulger served as Florida's State Folklorist and administrator of the Florida Folklife Program from 1976 to 1989.

JoAnn Hardin Morgan (1985)
JoAnn Hardin Morgan (1985)

Image Number: N041277

JoAnn Hardin Morgan was the first woman placed in a senior managerial position at the Kennedy Space Center. She grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as Brevard County, Florida. She began working for NASA immediately after graduating from Titusville High. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1963, earned a masters in engineering at Stanford and rose to Chief Instrumentation controller for the Apollo, Soyez, and Skylab launches. As of 1995, she is the Director for Safety and Mission Assurance. Ms. Morgan was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 1995.

For more photographs of women in Florida, see Women Who Serve.