You won’t find their names among the signers of the Constitution. Nor are they mentioned in any of the historic documents of the day. With few exceptions, they have been largely ignored by historians and textbooks on early American history.
“They” are the women of early America. Two hundred years ago, the traditional roles of leadership were not open to women. Their status was — at best — confining. Nonetheless, their presence was felt and their opinions were brought to bear when those opportunities presented themselves.
Some of the women presented here were close to the movers and shakers of the early Republic, while others took direct action on their own. In every case they made important contributions to America’s early years.
From our archives…and out of the shadows of history…we introduce you to America’s forgotten — the Notable Women of Early America.
Please note that all of the portraits here, except for Catharine Sedgwick, are engravings from the original paintings or drawings. The portraits date from 1806 to the mid-1800’s, and are part of the Early American Digital Library. This is in keeping with our policy of presenting viewers with primary source reference material throughout this site.
These images are for personal and non-commercial use only. Any other use is strictly prohibited and a violation of the copyright laws (see Rules of Use). However, commercial use of these portraits and other images at Archiving Early America are available for license here.
New additions from our archives will continue to appear here, so please visit again.
see also: Molly Pitcher, an American Heroine