News & Politics

5 Women Who Impacted DC History

A recent book spotlights female contributions to the city.

The recently released book 111 Places in Women’s History in Washington That You Must Not Miss is full of interesting tidbits. Here are a few women who made a mark on the city.

Charlotte Dupuy

Enslaved by Henry Clay and living in Decatur House, Dupuy spent years fighting for freedom and sued Clay for her release in 1829. She lost the suit, but her bravery still resonates.

Flora Molton

For decades, passersby were entranced by this downtown DC blues and gospel street performer. She died in 1990, and a converted emergency call box now serves as a memorial at the corner of 13th and G, Northwest.

Evalyn Walsh McLean

The Walsh-McLean House on Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, was a gift to the DC socialite from her father. She purchased the allegedly cursed Hope Diamond in 1911, after which her marriage ended, two of her children died, and her fortune dwindled.

Lavinia Ellen Ream

The first female artist commissioned by Congress, she’s known for her Capitol Rotunda statue of Abraham Lincoln, which she started in 1866 when she was 18. Also notable is her statue of Civil War admiral David Farragut in the square that bears his name.

Eliza Scidmore

This geographer and photographer—the first woman on the National Geographic Society’s board—proposed bringing cherry blossoms to Potomac Park. The idea bloomed when she recruited First Lady Helen Taft to the cause.

This article appears in the January 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

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Zach Bright

Zach joined Washingtonian in October 2021. In the past, he’s written for The Colorado Sun, The Nevada Independent and SRQ Magazine.