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Barceló, Maria Gertrudis “La Tules” (1800–17 Jan. 1852), entrepreneur  

Delilah Hernandez

Barceló, Maria Gertrudis “La Tules” (c. 1800–17 Jan. 1852), entrepreneur, was born in Sonora, Mexico, the daughter of Don Pedro Pino and Doña Dolores Herrero, prosperous Spanish ranchers. Her mother was the widow of Juan Ignacio Barceló. Shortly after Mexico won its independence from Spain in ...


Bickford, Sarah (1852–1931), businesswoman, entrepreneur, and public utility owner  

Laura J. Arata

Bickford, Sarah (c. 1852–1931), businesswoman, entrepreneur, and public utility owner, was born enslaved in East Tennessee. Before the Civil War, there was little expectation that her early life would be noted in public records, but an enumerator included enslaved people on the 1860...


Carse, Matilda Bradley (1835-1917), temperance worker, editor, and entrepreneur  

Ruth Bordin

Carse, Matilda Bradley (19 November 1835–03 June 1917), temperance worker, editor, and entrepreneur, was born near Belfast, Ireland, the daughter of John Bradley and Catherine Cleland, Scottish merchants whose ancestors had migrated to Ireland in the seventeenth century. Educated in Ireland, Carse emigrated in 1858 to Chicago. In 1861 she married Thomas Carse, a railroad manager with whom she had three sons. After her husband’s death in 1870, her youngest son was killed by a drunken drayman, propelling Carse into the temperance cause just as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was organizing. She devoted much of the rest of her life to business and volunteer activities related to that organization....


Daché, Lilly (1892?–31 December 1989), hat and fashion designer and entrepreneur  

Susan Ingalls Lewis

Daché, Lilly (1892?–31 December 1989), hat and fashion designer and entrepreneur, was born in Bègles, France. Because of her unconventional red hair, skinny figure, and preference for using her left hand, Daché’s parents (names unknown) considered her both plain and clumsy, and in later years she attributed her desire to create beauty to an early need to feel attractive and thereby loved. Even as a child Daché decorated her hair with cherries and flower garlands and cut up her mother’s clothes to make hats of her own design. Daché began her millinery training with her aunt, a dressmaker in Bordeaux, but talent and ambition soon led to a four-year apprenticeship with Caroline Reboux in Paris. She later worked for both Suzanne Talbot and Georgette, also noted Parisian milliners....


Dreyfus, Camille Edouard (1878-1956), industrial chemist and entrepreneur  

Stephen H. Cutcliffe

Dreyfus, Camille Edouard (11 November 1878–27 September 1956), industrial chemist and entrepreneur, was born in Basel, Switzerland, the son of Abraham Dreyfus, a banker, and Henrietta Wahl. Camille and his younger brother, Henri (later Americanized to Henry), both received their education at the University of Basel, being awarded their Ph.D.s in chemistry in 1902 and 1905, respectively. Camille also pursued postgraduate study at the Sorbonne in Paris until 1906. After working several years in Basel to gain industrial experience, Camille and his brother established a chemical laboratory in their home town. Seeking a product that the public would readily buy, they developed a synthetic indigo. Although they made some money in this venture, it quickly became clear that synthetic indigo did not have a sufficient market. Consequently the Dreyfus brothers focused their attention on celluloid, which at that time was produced only in a flammable form. They recognized that a large potential market existed for nonflammable celluloid, if it could be developed. They focused on cellulose acetate and were shortly producing one to two tons per day. Half of their output went to the motion picture industry for film, with the other half going into the production of toilet articles....


Everleigh, Ada (1876-1960), businesswomen  

Leslie Tischauser

Everleigh, Ada (15 February 1876–03 January 1960), and Minna Everleigh (13 July 1878–16 September 1948), businesswomen, were born in rural Kentucky, the daughters of a prosperous lawyer whose last name was Lester. Their mother’s name is unknown. They received little education. The sisters married brothers in 1897, but both husbands proved to be violent brutes, and the sisters left them after less than a year. Ada and Minna left Kentucky in 1898 and settled in Omaha, Nebraska, where they worked as prostitutes during the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition and eventually invested in a brothel. The closing of the fair led to a shortage of customers, and the sisters decided to head for more lucrative surroundings. With money inherited from their father they traveled to Chicago and on 1 February 1900 opened the famous Everleigh Club in the heart of the city’s vice district, known as the Levee District. They had assumed the name Everleigh at some point and used it throughout their residence in Chicago. Within a year they employed thirty women and achieved a national reputation for providing entertainment for men. “Minna and Ada Everleigh are to pleasure what Christ was to Christianity,” a reporter wrote....


Everleigh, Minna  

See Everleigh, Ada


Fulton, Alvenia M. (17 May 1906–5 Mar. 1999), African American health food promoter and celebrity dietitian  

Travis A. Weisse

Fulton, Alvenia M. (17 May 1906–5 Mar. 1999), African American health food promoter and celebrity dietitian, was born Alvenia Moody in Pulaski, Tennessee, one of nine children born to Richard Moody and Mahala Woodruff Moody, who owned and worked a 156-acre farm. Her father also had a stake in his brother-in-law’s lumber mill and helped his uncle (the first black undertaker in Pulaski) and his uncle’s sons to bury the dead. Before they became farmers, Alvenia’s mother attempted careers as a practical nurse, rural schoolteacher, and midwife (as her own mother had been). Alvenia Moody’s family was also deeply religious. Both her parents grew up with fathers who served as ministers in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and Baptist churches, then both served the church themselves: her mother was a preacher, her father, a deacon....


Hopper, Edna Wallace (17 January 1864?–14 December 1959), actress, entrepreneur, and financier  

Nola Smith

Hopper, Edna Wallace (17 January 1864?–14 December 1959), actress, entrepreneur, and financier, was born and raised in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Walter Wallace. (Her mother’s identity is unknown.) Little is verifiable about her early years, except that she was educated at the Van Ness Seminary, as public records were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. She began her stage career on a whim when, at a reception, she met and charmed comedian Roland Reed into issuing her an invitation to join his company. In August 1891 she made her debut as Mabel Douglas in the musical comedy ...


Cover Hopper, Edna Wallace (17 January 1864?–14 December 1959)

Hopper, Edna Wallace (17 January 1864?–14 December 1959)  


Edna Hopper Seated in her berth on a train. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95412).


Knight, Sarah Kemble (1666-1727), diarist and businesswoman  

Barbara E. Lacey

Knight, Sarah Kemble (19 April 1666–25 September 1727), diarist and businesswoman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Kemble, a merchant, and Elizabeth Trerice. She married Richard Knight of Boston, of whom little is known, and had one child.

The Boston census in 1707 recorded that Sarah Knight, then a widow, headed her deceased father’s Moon Street household and shop. She kept boarders and may also have taught school. Knowledgeable about law, she served as a copier of legal documents and witness to one hundred or more deeds. In 1704, she traveled to New York to settle a family estate, keeping a diary of her journey that was first published in 1825 in ...


Mandelbaum, Fredericka (1827-1894), criminal entrepreneur  

Rona L. Holub

Mandelbaum, Fredericka (27 February 1827–26 February 1894), criminal entrepreneur, was born Friederike Weisner in Hessen-Kassel, Germany to Regine (Rahel Lea) Weisner (nee Solling) and Samuel Abraham Weisner, a merchant. Their occupations are unknown. Nothing specific is known of her early life and education....


Mirault, Aspasia Cruvellier (1800-1857), entrepreneur and a free woman of color  

Janice L. Sumler-Edmond

Mirault, Aspasia Cruvellier (1800–13 November 1857), entrepreneur and a free woman of color, was born Aspasia Cruvellier on the island of Santo Domingo (the area now known as the Republic of Haiti). Very little is known about her parentage and early life. Evidence suggests that she was brought to the United States as an infant by Hagar Cruvellier, who was either her mother or older sister. Cruvellier may have been fleeing the turmoil in the wake of the rebellion led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated the island and its enslaved residents from colonial rule. Aspasia's name first appears in the Chatham County, Georgia, tax records in 1812, alongside the names of Hagar and other family members, including her older brothers, Francis and Peter, and sister Justine. Aspasia's brothers were tailors, and the entire family, including young Aspasia, worked in their shop....


Moody, Harriet Converse (1857-1932), entrepreneur and patron of the arts  

Susan Albertine

Moody, Harriet Converse (18 March 1857–22 February 1932), entrepreneur and patron of the arts, was born in Parkman, Ohio, the daughter of William Mason Tilden, a livestock broker, and Harriet Converse. William Tilden moved his family to Chicago circa 1867. Educated at home by her mother, Harriet later attended the Howland School, a Quaker institution in Union Springs, New York. She continued her education at Cornell University, where she earned a degree in English literature in 1876. Enrolling at the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia, she returned to Chicago after one year, made her debut, and married Edwin Brainard, a lawyer. The marriage was not a success, and the Brainards were divorced in the 1880s....


Pleasant, Mary Ellen (1812?–1904), legendary African-American woman of influence and political power in Gold Rush and Gilded Age San Francisco  

Lynn Downey

Pleasant, Mary Ellen (1812?–1904), legendary African-American woman of influence and political power in Gold Rush and Gilded Age San Francisco, was born, according to some sources, a slave in Georgia; other sources claim that her mother was a Louisiana slave and her father Asian or Native American. Many sources agree that she lived in Boston, as a free woman, the wife of James W. Smith, a Cuban abolitionist. When he died in 1844 he left her his estate, valued at approximately $45,000....


Siebert, Muriel Faye (12 Sept. 1928–24 Aug. 2013), financial expert and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange  

Debra Michals

Siebert, Muriel Faye (12 Sept. 1928–24 Aug. 2013), financial expert and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the younger of two daughters of Jewish parents, Margaret Eunice (Roseman), a housewife, and Irwin J. Siebert, a dentist. From childhood on she was known as “Mickie.”...


Thompson, Lydia (1836-1908), entertainer and leader of a British burlesque troupe  

Richard Butsch

Thompson, Lydia (19 February 1836–17 November 1908), entertainer and leader of a British burlesque troupe, was born in London, England, the daughter of a Quaker father, Philip Milburn Thompson, who died when she was three. Her mother, whose name is unknown, remarried a well-to-do businessman who financed Lydia’s dancing lessons when she was a young child....


White, Eartha Mary Magdalene (1876-1974), social welfare and community leader and businesswoman  

Marilyn Elizabeth Perry

White, Eartha Mary Magdalene (08 November 1876–18 January 1974), social welfare and community leader and businesswoman, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the daughter of Mollie Chapman, a former slave, and an unnamed prominent white man. She was adopted shortly after birth by freed slaves Lafayette White, a drayman and Civil War veteran, and Clara English, a domestic and cook. Lafayette White died when Eartha was five. Throughout her childhood Clara made Eartha feel as though God had chosen her for a special mission. Listening to stories of hardships that Clara endured as a slave and watching her mother’s humanitarian contributions to Jacksonville’s “Black Bottom” community convinced Eartha White that she too would someday make a difference in the African-American community....