Who inspires you? Maybe it’s the mom at your church whose children have all learned their multiplication tables with minimum tears, or your local librarian who always knows where to find that book. Everyone has a God-given purpose and sphere of influence during his or her lifetime. We each have a story—also called a biography.
Merriam-Webster defines biography as “the story of a real person’s life written by someone other than that person.” It’s not just the facts of birth, marriage, and death, but the in-between moments that make up the excitement in a person’s life story. Right now, your children are developing the gifts and abilities from God that they will use to impact their world.
Women’s History Month in March is a good opportunity to inspire them to grow and make a difference by teaching them about the following women who shaped history in their own unique ways. (Included throughout are links to resources for additional learning.)
Elizabeth Everts “Betty” Greene (1920–1997): Pilot and Missionary
Betty grew up in the Pacific Northwest and took an early interest in flying. In 1936, she earned her pilot’s license and soon began serving her country in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) by delivering supplies and participating in military training exercises. Because of her advanced flying skills, she also was recruited to test aircraft at high altitudes. After World War II, Miss Greene used aviation to advance the gospel. Her trips took her to South America, Africa, and the Pacific to places that were hard to reach on foot. Today, the Missionary Aviation Fellowship, an organization that she helped found, continues to combine two things Betty loved—service to God and flying.
Sandra Day O’Connor (1930– ): Justice of the Supreme Court
A graduate of Stanford Law School, Sandra’s accomplishments reveal not only her well-trained mind but also an admirable gracious spirit as she chose to rise above the social barriers placed before her. Mrs. O’Connor served as an attorney and then the first woman majority leader of the Arizona State Senate before President Ronald Reagan appointed her to be the first woman Supreme Court Justice in 1981. Throughout her career, the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor made decisions based on careful research and consideration of a ruling’s impact on our country. Since retiring from the Supreme Court, she has increased awareness of American civic education by starting the iCivics online learning platform for students.
History.com biography of Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, video interview
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896): Writer and Social Reformer
Harriet’s famous father, Lyman Beecher, presented his children with unique learning opportunities that shaped their worldview and enabled them to defend their beliefs. She married young and had several children. But she had a gift. Her use of writing proved a valuable tool for sharing Christian truths during a time when women’s opinions were often overlooked. It also allowed her to earn money to support her family. Mrs. Stowe’s most famous work is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which incorporates first-hand accounts of the mistreatment of enslaved people. Published as a novel in 1852, it stirred up a great deal of controversy. But Harriet was not afraid to shed light on the social evils of her day. After the Civil War, she continued to support the equal treatment and education of all people as human beings created in God’s image.
Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy (1866–1936): Educator
Limited eyesight didn’t stop Anne from being motivated to learn. She graduated from Perkins School for the Blind as valedictorian. Miss Sullivan’s impact on the world of education started with one student—Helen Keller. Anne homeschooled her deaf-blind student, teaching her to communicate by spelling on the hand. Her outside-the-box methods of individualized teaching brought respect from other teachers and helped to broaden education for people with physical limitations.
Primary sources about Anne Sullivan
Anne Sullivan Macy online museum
Video with Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller
What woman from history would you add to this list?