I think we all know by now that girls run the world. There have been millions of women that we know about that have changed the world that are household names. But what about some of the women that we don’t hear about very much, or at all? Here are just a few women that changed the course of history that you didn’t learn about in history class.
Andrée de Jongh (aka DéDéé)
Andrée de Jongh was born in Belgium in 1916, which at the time was under German occupation during WWI. After German troops invaded and occupied Belgium again in 1940 during WWII, de Jongh then moved to Brussels where she became a member of the Belgian Resistance. During her time there, she created one of the most effective escape routes for allied soldiers hoping to get out of Nazi-occupied Europe, called the Comet Line. It is estimated that she led over 115 Allied soldiers across the border into Spain in order for them to be free. Unfortunately, she was caught and captured by the Gestapo in 1943. Then, she was sent to a Paris prison, where she was eventually deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp and then Mauthausen concentration camp. She was then freed in 1945 after Mauthausen was liberated by the allied soldiers. After the war, de Jong was awarded multiple honors. The honors included the Belgian Croix de Guerre/Oorlogskruis with palm, the American Medal of Freedom, the British George Medal, and was also made an honorary lieutenant colonel in the Belgian Army.
Born in New York City in 1918, American biochemist and pharmacologist, Gertrude Elion is well-known for spearheading the creation of multiple drugs to treat multiple diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and cancer. After graduation summa cum laude from Hunter College at the age of 19, Elion had great difficulty finding work due to many laboratories not wanting to hire women chemists. She eventually found work as a laboratory assistant, however, she eventually went back to school at New York University. The beginning of WWII started to create more opportunities in the workforce for women and she started working for Dr. George H. Hitchings. Elion and Hitchings together created multiple successful drugs to treat malaria, herpes, AIDS, and cancer. Elion eventually retired in 1943 after developing 45 patents. In 1988, Elion won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Hitchings for their work in the industry.
Born in Fredericksburg, New York (now called Ludington in her honor) in 1791, Sybil Ludington grew up in colonial America, where she saw the beginnings of the American Revolution. Ludington is best known for Ludington’s Ride. At 16 years old, she rode her horse 40 miles through the night in Putnam County, New York in order to warn the villagers that the British were going to attack Danbury, Connecticut. She rode from house to house, where she banged on each door stating The British are Burning Danbury. This is similar to what Paul Revere did on his Midnight Ride, however she rode twice the distance as him. As she returned home from her ride, hundreds of soldiers showed up and were prepared to fight the British at Danbury. While the colonial militia lost the battle, they were successful in driving the British army back to Long Island. In contrast to Paul Revere, Sybil Ludington’s story faded into obscurity until 1961, when the Daughters of the American Revolution had a bronze statue created in her honor.