Important Women in Arkansas History


From the state that gave us everything from President Bill Clinton to Maya Angelou, just about anything is possible.

Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart here and Hot Springs National Park has hosted famous visitors like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Al Capone. With a history like that, Arkansas is the perfect place to find amazing women.

Katharine Susan Anthony (1877-1965)

A biographer, Anthony has written about some of the most intriguing women in history, including Catherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth and Dolly Madison. Her most controversial work is titled “The Lambs” written about British writers Charles and Mary Lamb.

Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock (1868-1962)

Babcock became the first Arkansas woman to be included in the Authors and Writers Who’s Who In America. Her career spanned more than forty novels, and many newspaper and magazine articles. According to The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, she founded the Museum of Natural History in Little Rock, was a founding member of the Arkansas Historical Society, and was the first president of the Arkansas branch of the National League of Pen Women.

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (1878-1950)

Arguably an accidental politician, Caraway was appointed to fill her husband’s seat in the U.S. Senate. But she made the most of her opportunity, going on to be the first woman to chair a Senate committee as well as the first woman to preside over a Senate hearing. She even ran for re-election when her husband’s original term ended – and she won.

Patsy Montana (1914-1996)

Montana became the first female country music singer to sell a million records. Famous Arkansans notes she made over 7,000 concert appearances, produced more than 250 records, and had parts in a couple Gene Autry western films.

Helen Martin King (1895-1988)

If you love rug hooking, thank King for making it possible. This artist/business woman created the type of pre-stenciled rug kits you find in craft stores everywhere.

Jenny Eakin Delony (1866-1949)

Delony was the first female artist from Arkansas to gain international recognition as a painter. She was also one of only a few female members of the National Academy of Art.

Washington, Arkansas (1934)

The first female mayor, Charlean Moss Williams, is elected along with all female town council. Back in these days, women were still the bottom of the totem pole, making this accomplishment even more impressive.

There are so many interesting women responsible for helping shape Arkansas history, it would be impossible to highlight them all here. Learn more about Helen Gurley Brown, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Mary Steenbergen. Take pride in the powerful women who have come before us so we may continue to take risks and work for change in our lifetimes.