Portraits of Extraordinary Women

The Internet is a powerful tool when recontextualizing the past. It’s a potent medium in which to research and share information, enabling us to rediscover many of those previously overlooked figures who helped to shape and propel historical progress. Below, are portraits of some of the extraordinary women who were and continue to be pioneers in their field. We used our analytics to look at how often they appear in online features and whether they are getting the recognition they deserve.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis. Film still taken from The Black Power Mixtape, Classroom Module, Source: PBS video

American political activist and scholar Angela Davis came to prominence in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party, USA. During this time, she was arrested, charged, tried and acquitted for her involvement in an armed takeover of a Marin County courtroom in 1970. She was also closely associated with the Black Panther Party through her active role in the Civil Rights Movement. This portrait of Davis was taken from the documentary “Black Power Mixtape” which appeared on 44 websites and 81 unique pages. It was also used in an article by MoviePilot in July 2014 as demonstrated on the infographic below.

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Maude Wagner

Maude Wagner, the first well known tattooist in the United States, 1907. Source: sociologysideofthings

Maude Wagner — aerialist and contortionist, was a performer in various traveling circuses when she met tattoo artist Gus Wagner. The couple formed a professional and romantic partnership, where together, they paved the way for the hand crafted tattoo trade. This would see Maud Wagner become the United States’ first known female tattoo artist. Their daughter Lotteva would also begin her tattooing career at the age of nine. The portrait of Maude has since appeared on 389 websites and 1501 unique pages including Resident Advisor.

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Annette Marie Sarah Kellermann

Annette Marie Sarah Kellermann in her famous one-piece bathing suit, c.1910. Image belongs to the Library of Congress and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Australian swimmer Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman is widely considered the world’s greatest aquatic performer. This was owed to her daredevil, headline grabbing long distance swims across the Thames, the Seine, the Rhine and the Danube, to name a few. Forbidden to show any bare leg when appearing before members of England’s royal family at London’s Bath Club, she decided to don a long pair of black stockings sewn to a boy’s short racing costume — et voila! The women’s one-piece bathing suit was born and Keller’s image (since 2008) has been featured on 228 websites and 572 unique pages including viral nova.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

Remise du Prix Sakharov à Aung San Suu Kyi Strasbourg 22 octobre 2013–04” by Claude Truong-Ngoc. Via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Nobel Peace laureate and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma Aung San Suu Kyi, was placed under house arrest for a total of 15 years over a 21 year period for her activity as a Burmese opposition politician. Though granted permission to leave Burma (on the condition that she never return), she opted for house arrest instead. In doing so, Suu Kyi would sacrifice a life with her family in order to demonstrate solidarity to her people. Suu Kyi’s image has become synonymous with global democracy, where this portrait has appeared 27 websites and 436 unique pages, where Foreign Policy Journal is one of them.

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Betty Jennings and Frances Bilas

Betty Jennings and Frances Bilas setting up the ENIAC, 1945–1947. “U.S. Army Photo” from the archives of the ARL Technical Library. Photograph: United States Army- InstitutionARL Technical Library. Permission and source: historic computers

In the fourties, computer programming was deemed a “woman’s job”. Nowadays, the majority of programmers are men meaning that the profession’s earliest employees are often no more than a footnote in history. The ENIAC was the first digital computer originally housed at the Moore School, U.S. and Betty Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas (right) were two of the original computer programmers to operate the main control panel without a manual. This image has gone on to appear on 196 websites and 886 unique pages such as Wired.

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Got a favorite image of an extraordinary woman you’d like to learn more about? Find out where it is and where it’s been with WhereOnThe.Net and share your results with us.

WhereOnThe.Net traces how images spread online. Whether you want to find copies of your own work or track viral images, we crawl the Internet and show you all the sites it has appeared on and it’s growth over time.

Images used in this article are used subject to news reporting and quotation exemptions in German copyright law, but if you are the rightsholder and think it should be taken down, please let us know. For any questions, please email us at contact@whereonthe.net.