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Prominent Bostonian Women in History

Happy Women's History Month 2017! Here is some information about prominent women in Boston's history.

Mary Eliza Mahoney


By Unknown photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Born on May 7, 1845, in Dorchester, Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African-American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States. Prior to nursing school, she spent 15 years working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which is now the Dimock Community Health Center. In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, which aimed to acknowledge the accomplishments of great nurses and eliminate racial discrimination in the nursing community. Mahoney passed away on January 4, 1926.

Mary Lyon


See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Mary Mason Lyon was born February 28, 1797 in Buckland, Massachusetts. Serving as a pioneer in women's education, she assisted in the founding of the Wheaton Female Seminary, which is now Wheaton College. She also founded the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, now Mount Holyoke College, and acted as its first President for 12 years. One of Lyon’s goals in establishing her own school was to maintain a low cost of education for women of all backgrounds. Mount Holyoke has continued its academic success, with distinguished alumnae such as Emily Dickinson. Lyon passed away on March 5, 1849.

"You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages."

-Michelle Obama

Ednah Dow Cheney


By Author unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Born on June 27, 1824, in Boston, Ednah Dow Cheney helped establish the New England Hospital for Women and Children, while also founding the Boston School of Design. Cheney often involved herself in the battle for women’s rights, by lobbying at the Legislature and serving as Vice-President of the New England’s Women’s Suffrage Society. Cheney passed away on November 19, 1904.

Margarita Muñiz


After leaving Cuba, alone and only 11 years old, Margarita Muñiz grew up wanting to work for the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Achieving her dream, she went on to spend 39 years working in BPS, with 30 of them spent as the Principal of the Rafael Hernández School. Muñiz received many recognitions in her lifetime, including: Boston Public Schools Principal of the Year in 2009, Barr Foundation Fellow from 2007 to 2010, and one of 100 Outstanding Women in Massachusetts in 2003. Muñiz passed away on November 18, 2011 and in 2012, the Margarita Muñiz Academy opened, as the first dual-language high school in BPS. The school honors her dedication to bettering the lives of students for whom English is a second language.