Born in New Bedford to parents who had been enslaved, educator Elizabeth Piper Ensley (1847-1919) was an active leader in African American women’s clubs and the women’s suffrage movement in Colorado.
Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts accepted New Bedford High School graduate Carrie Evelina S. Lee (1895-1979) for admission in 1913. Upon arrival, rejection from her assigned dormitory became the impetus for a cornerstone in the founding of what would become Smith College’s Black Student Alliance.
Determined to step outside the norms of her era and model daring independence, Alice Howland Macomber (1874-1961) first traveled alone to Europe at the age of 20 stating, “I travel alone and try anything once.” Her popular travel lectures documented all she experienced during her far-flung adventures.
From immigrant textile mill worker to Ivy League student to pioneering New Bedford educator, Laurinda C. Andrade (1899-1980) overcame barriers of tradition, poverty, language, and discrimination to establish the first high school Portuguese language department in the United States at New Bedford High School.
When Nora Ouimette (1909-1987) was born in New Bedford, women could not vote! By the time of her death, she had voted in every election she was eligible for, become a labor union organizer, run for Congress and become one of the first female industrial engineers in companies on both the East and West Coasts.