Women's History Quiz

Answers to Questions 1 - 10

1. Q. What woman became America’s first agriculturist and the creator of a profitable cash crop when she successfully hybridized indigo?

A. Eliza Lucas Pickney (1722-1793)
Indigo is a seed that produces a clear blue dye and it was in great demand in England.  After perfecting the strain, Eliza Pickney grew indigo on her plantations, three of which she had run since age 16 when her father went abroad, and she encouraged other planters in South Carolina to do the same.  Within two years, indigo became South Carolina’s second best cash crop.  During her lifetime, Pickney ran seven successful plantations in addition to raising her own family.  She also taught her slaves how to read, which was rare at the time, but like many other white people of the era, she did not question slavery and greatly profited from their work on her plantations.

2. Q. Who was the first known American woman to advocate for women’s right to vote?

A. Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818)
Abigail Adams is best known as the wife of John Adams, the first Vice President and second President of the U.S., and as the mother of John Q. Adams, the sixth President.  Her husband was often away, leading the young country, so historians have been able to find out about her personal life through reading the many letters she wrote to him.  In one of these letters from March 1776, Abigail asked her husband to “remember the ladies” when he and the other male politicians wrote the Constitution and provide women with the right to vote.  Like other people from that time, her husband laughed at the idea, and women did not gain the right to vote for decades, in 1920.

3. Q. Who helped guide and interpret for a group of explorers as they mapped routes to the Pacific Coast?

A. Sacajawea (c. 1788 – 1812 or 1884)
Kidnapped from her family and people in the Idaho region and taken to modern-day North Dakota, Sacajawea was fluent in two Native American languages.  With her French speaking husband, she was hired as an interpreter for explorers headed to the Pacific Coast through her homeland in 1805.  With her newborn baby, Sacajawea was the lone female who went with the 33 explorers to map out paths to the Pacific Coast.  In addition to her translation skills, Sacajawea was invaluable because the Native Americans the group encountered did not hurt them because they knew that war parties never traveled with a woman. She also helped the men purchase horses and supplies and navigate the unknown area.  Some records show she died of illness in 1812, other records show she lived until 1884.

4. Q.  Who was responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday?

A.  Sarah J. Hale (1788 - 1879) 
Sara J. Hale, a writer and the editor of a popular women’s magazine, Godey’s Ladies Journal, published numerous editorials urging several American president when they were in office to nationalize the celebration of Thanksgiving.  A New England resident, Sarah had always celebrated Thanksgiving because it had been a holiday in that part of the country since the 17th century and she thought it was important for everyone in the country to celebrate it.  Sarah’s hard work paid off, and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday.

5. Q. Whose research on the horrible conditions of insane asylums is credited as the first piece of social research conducted in America?

A. Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)
The founder of a school at age 14 and author of five textbooks, Dorothea Dix spent most of her life advocating for the humane treatment of the mentally ill.  Over the years, Dix traveled from state to state, and later country to country, systematically observing and gathering data on how poorly the mentally ill were treated; most were given inadequate food, little clothing, were locked in jail cells, and many were chained to the walls.  She lobbied state and national legislatures to create humane, state-supported institutions.  By the time she died, she had inspired the construction of thirty new institutions.

6. Q. What New York Tribune employee became the nation’s first professional book reviewer, greatly influencing what the public read? 

A. Sarah Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Extremely well educated and widely traveled, Sarah Margaret Fuller wrote numerous articles and books in which she reviewed literature and art, discussed philosophy and literature, and promoted women’s rights.  She held “Conversations” with women in Boston about women’s rights and used what they discussed in her writings.  Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845) became a classic of feminist thought.  In 1844, the New York Tribune, which had a national audience, hired Fuller as its first book reviewer.  She used her position to promote American authors at a time when most people read British authors and helped boost the careers of her friends Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson, men considered to be the founders of American literature.

7. Q.  Who started the tradition of historic preservation in the United States, leading to the creation of thousands of museums and historic sites across the country?

A.  Ann Pamela Cunningham (1816 – 1875)
In 1853, Ann Pamela Cunningham’s mother sailed past Mt. Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s home in Northern Virginia on the Potomac River, and was shocked by its dilapidated state.  She inspired her daughter to found the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which raised $200,000 to purchase and restore Washington’s estate.  Today, historic Mt. Vernon attracts over 1 million visitors each year.  The Association, which is all female and still presides over Mt. Vernon, was the first historic preservation group in the nation and should be credited with inspiring the preservation of thousands of other invaluable historic sites across the country.

8. Q. While attending a temperance meeting, which two members formed a friendship and political alliance that would lead to the birth of the women’s rights movement?

A. Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
A dynamic duo, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly to end slavery and gain better rights for women.  After slavery was abolished, they focused solely on women’s rights.  Working as a team, Anthony managed the business affairs and campaigned while Stanton did most of the writing and public speaking.  Together they wrote radical articles, lobbied politicians, held conventions, and wrote book after book in support of issues like married women’s property rights and the right to vote.  They formed various organizations, such as the National Woman Suffrage Association, and they traveled across the country and abroad promoting women’s rights.  Their efforts slowly changed laws and women’s place in society.

9. Q.  What female ex-slave developed effective war and espionage strategies long before women served in the military?

A.  Harriet Tubman (c.1820 – 1913)
Between 1850 and 1860, Harriet Tubman led 300 slaves to freedom in the North and Canada through her Underground Railroad.  Tubman created a system of encoded letters, songs, and prayers for safe communication, carried a loaded revolver, forged travel passes, and used a variety of disguises for herself and the slaves she was guiding.  Not once did Tubman lose a slave during her 19 journeys back and forth between the North and the South.  During the Civil War, the Boston Commonwealth reported in 1863 that she frequently snuck across enemy lines to give information to union forces and that she even led a regiment of black soldiers into battle.  Tubman, the leading black female abolitionist of American history, also developed highly successful strategies for covert military action.

10. Q. What Civil War nurse founded the American Red Cross?

A.  Clara Barton (1821-1912)
In 1882, President Chester Arthur signed a treaty allowing the Red Cross to provide relief services to victims of war and natural disaster, both in the United States and abroad.  Clara Barton had lobbied for the establishment of the Red Cross since her service in the Civil War, and served as the organization’s president until 1904.  Today, the Red Cross mobilizes billions of dollars to help disaster victims.  The organization devoted $997 million to September 11, 2001 relief, and expects to spend over $2 billion to restore the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


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