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An Overview of Goodhue County History

In March 1853 Goodhue County was created by Minnesota's territorial legislature. It was formed from the original Wabasha County, which lay between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Anderson, Helen Eugenie Moore (1909–1997)

Eugenie Moore Anderson emerged as a trailblazer for American women in international diplomacy during the post-World War II era. In 1949 she became the first American woman to hold the rank of ambassador.

Ayer, Elizabeth Taylor (1803–1898)

Elizabeth Taylor Ayer's life spanned nearly the entire nineteenth century. In an era when women rarely had professional careers, her work as a teaching missionary gave her more status and independence than most women enjoyed.

Betty Crocker

For many Americans, the name Betty Crocker evokes an image of domestic perfection. From the often-reissued Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook to the iconic red spoon logo that bears her signature, Betty Crocker is one of the most recognized names in cooking. It comes as a surprise to many that “America’s First Lady of Food” is, in fact, fictional.

Boynton, Ruth Evelyn (1896 - 1977)

Ruth Boynton was a physician, researcher, and administrator who spent almost her entire career at the University of Minnesota (U of M). She worked in public health and student health services. At that time there were few women in any of these fields. She was Director of the University Student Health Service from 1936 to 1961. It was renamed the Boynton Health Service in her honor in 1975.

Cooke, Marvel Jackson (1901–2000)

Marvel Cooke was a pioneering African American female journalist and political activist. Cooke's groundbreaking career was spent in a world where she was often the only female African American. Talking about her work for the white-owned newspaper the Compass, she told biographer Kay Mills in 1988, ''there were no black workers there and no women."

Countryman, Gratia Alta (1866–1953)

In June 1922, the Minneapolis Public Library book wagon made its first trip from Minneapolis to Excelsior, a small village on Lake Minnetonka. Riding aboard the book wagon was Gratia Countryman, the library system's visionary director.

Densmore, Frances (1867–1957)

From the 1890s through the 1950s, Frances Densmore researched and recorded the music of American Indians. Through more than twenty books, 200 articles, and some 2,500 Graphophone recordings, she preserved important cultural traditions that might otherwise have been lost. She received honors from Macalester College in St. Paul and the Minnesota Historical Society in the last years of her life.

Execution of Ann Bilansky, 1860

Ann Bilansky was the only woman executed by the action of Minnesota courts. She died in 1860, but doubts about her guilt remain alive.

Gág, Wanda (1893–1946)

Wanda Gág (rhymes with "cog") was determined to be an artist, and ultimately she triumphed. Her talent steered her through family hardship and hesitant early artistic efforts until she created Millions of Cats, her beloved 1928 children's book. It has never been out of print.

Handicraft Guild

At the turn of the twentieth century, Minneapolis became a national center for the arts movement known as Arts and Crafts. The city's Handicraft Guild led the way. Founded by women, the Handicraft Guild made the arts in Minneapolis more democratic and populist by offering classes like pottery and metalwork to artists and teachers.

Hanson, Susie Schmitt, (1860–1956)

A prime example of entrepreneurial spirit, Susie Schmitt Hanson was a pioneer for Minnesota women in business. As the owner of one of Waconia's longest-running businesses, she remains a prominent figure in the history of that town.

Hobart, Harriet Duncan (1825–1898)

After New York City schoolteacher Harriet Duncan came to Minnesota in 1868, she became an advocate for temperance and women's suffrage. She was president of the Minnesota Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for seventeen years and urged the WCTU to work on behalf of women's rights more broadly.

Liang May Seen (c.1871–1946)

Liang May Seen was the first woman of Chinese descent to live in Minnesota. After escaping from a brothel in San Francisco, Liang learned English, married, and moved to Minneapolis, where she was a leader in the Chinese immigrant community until her death in 1946.

Macbeth, Florence Mary (1889–1966)

Mankato-born Florence Macbeth won international acclaim as an operatic soprano during the 1910s and 1920s. Known as "the Minnesota nightingale," Macbeth made hundreds of concert and recital appearances during her career. She toured the U.S. with the Chicago Opera Company for fourteen years before retiring from singing in the 1930s.

Mankato State Normal School controversy, 1873

In August 1872, Julia Sears (1839–1929) was hired to head the Mankato State Normal School. Upon taking the job, she became the first woman to hold such a position of power in a coeducational institution of higher learning in the United States. Her leadership challenged traditional gender roles at teachers’ colleges but led to controversy when the local school board replaced her with a man.

Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association

From 1881 to 1920, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) struggled to secure women's right to vote. Its members organized marches, wrote petitions and letters, gathered signatures, gave speeches, and published pamphlets and broadsheets to force the Minnesota Legislature to recognize their right to vote. Due to their efforts, the Legislature approved the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.

Motorettes

Before World War II, operating streetcars was considered a man’s job. A 1916 Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) report shows sixty-eight female employees out of a workforce of 4,300, and those few were telephone operators and clerical office workers.

Muus v. Muus

Divorce in Minnesota's nineteenth century Norwegian-Lutheran community was a rarity. Legal separation between a leading pastor and his wife was unheard of. But an 1879 court case in Holden Township led to both those outcomes, and triggered a public debate about married women's legal rights.

Myers, Ruth A. (1926–2001)

Ruth A. Myers was known as the “grandmother of American Indian education in Minnesota.” A persistent voice for American Indian children and their families, Myers focused on education policy as well as learning opportunities for American Indian children. She also produced curriculum and resource materials that reflected American Indian history and culture for all Minnesota learners.

Nelson, Julia Bullard (1842–1914)

Following the death of her husband and their only child, Julia Bullard Nelson of Red Wing, Minnesota headed south to Texas in 1869 to teach African Americans in U.S. government-backed Freedmen's Bureau schools. Nelson spent the summers of the 1870s and 1880s in Minnesota, where she emerged as a state and national leader in the movement for women's suffrage and the temperance campaign against alcohol use.

Paist, Henrietta Barclay (1870–1930)

Multi-talented artist, designer, teacher, and author Henrietta Barclay Paist is perhaps best known for her china painting, a popular turn-of-the-century pastime. Born in Red Wing in 1870, she studied ceramics in Germany, watercolor painting in Minneapolis, and design in Chicago before settling in the Twin Cities.

Paull, Irene Levine (1908–1981)

Writer and activist Irene Levine Paull was born in Duluth to Jewish parents. Faced with discrimination because of her ethnicity, gender, and political views, Paull fought for the rights of people who were oppressed.

Ripley, Martha George (1843–1912)

Dr. Martha Ripley was an early advocate for women's health and welfare. She and her family moved to Minneapolis in 1883, just after she completed medical training at Boston University School of Medicine.

Sanford, Maria (1836–1920)

One of the first female professors in the United States, Maria Sanford was an English professor at the University of Minnesota for nearly thirty years. Her exceptional teaching, notable public lectures, and active community leadership led many to call her "the best loved woman in Minnesota."

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