Women Who Paved the Way
Hooray to the Louisville-area women who made great strides and broke down barriers for all of us. Contact Cave Hill Heritage Foundation to find out about their archives and research of women from our community’s history.
In 1889, SUSAN LOOK AVERY founded the Louisville Woman Suffrage Association to help propel women’s voting rights. Susan collaborated with other local women to sponsor bills in the Kentucky legislature that would give married women the right to control their property, make wills, and gain custody of their children after the death of their husbands. (1817-1915)
FANNIE ROSALIND HICKS GIVENS was a renowned artist who also became Louisville’s second African American female police officer in 1927. Fannie served as head of the art department at State University — now Simmons College — and the Kentucky Association of Colored Women. She painted portraits of Booker T. Washington and John Lewis Waller, who was U.S. Consul to Madagascar. The Waller portrait hung in the Harrison White House. (1876-1947)
FLORENCE BRANDEIS specialized in pediatrics and gynecology, which were among the few fields available to women physicians during the late 1800s. In 1887, she helped open Louisville’s first nursing school and urged women to enter the profession. She served as sanitary inspector and medical inspector of the city’s public schools. (1861-1941)
PATSIE EDWARDS SLOAN MARTIN (not pictured) was active in Parent Teacher Associations at the local, state, and national levels. She served numerous terms as president of the local PTA and was a leader in the Kentucky Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association. In the 1940s she became president of the National PTA, which honored her with a lifetime membership. (1892-1980)
MARY VIRGINIA COOK PARRISH organized the first parent-teacher organization for Louisville’s “Colored Schools” and helped, successfully, to petition for the city’s first African American playground. She also co-founded the Phillis Wheatley branch of the YWCA. (1863–1945)
ADELAIDE SCHROEDER WHITESIDE, who was a principal in the school system, established the first nursery school in the South. She helped initiate free kindergartens in Louisville and formed the committee that opened the first public playground at Brook and Walnut streets. (1869-1942)
JENNIE MAAS FLEXNER served as head of the Louisville Free Public Library’s circulation department from 1912-1928. In 1928, she accepted a position at the New York Public Library where she developed a collection relatable to readers of different ages, races, and interests. In the 1930s she educated refugees who came to America, and during World War II, she served as an advisor to the Council on Books and Wartime. (1882-1944)
PATTY BLACKBURN SEMPLE (not pictured) encouraged African American women to register and vote after Kentucky granted literate women the right to vote in local school district elections in 1912. A member and president of the Louisville Free Kindergarten Society, she supported efforts to train teachers and make kindergarten classes accessible to African American children. In 1893, she founded Semple Collegiate School, a collegiate preparatory school for girls.