8 Virtual Tours of Where Powerful Women Lived

Editorial Feature

By Google Arts & Culture

From Amelia Earhart to Sylvia Rivera

When you think of extraordinary women - women who've changed the world, women who've fought for rights, and women who've overcome barriers - it's hard to imagine them in an ordinary situation, like hanging out at home and tucking themselves up in bed at night. These are the spots where these inspirational females did just that: spent the night after a day of making history.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist and activist. She began her career as a professional calypso dancer before becoming a powerful and influential writer, collaborating with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement. Her most famous publication, her autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, condemns the racial segregation she experienced as a child, and celebrates the strength and integrity of black women.

She moved into this New York brownstone at 58 West 120th Street in 2004, where she entertained the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson.

Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett is one of the sufragettes instrumental in gaining British women the right to vote in 1918. As the leader of the NUWSS from 1890-1919, she campaigned for equal rights for women, the abolition of the slave trade, and formed a relief fund for South African women and children during the Boer war. She also helped found Cambridge's Newnham College, one of the first English university colleges for women.

She lived in this house at 2 Gower Street in Bloomsbury, London, for 45 years. It was here that she lived when women achieved equal voting rights in 1928.

Margaret Damer Dawson

Margaret Damer Dawson was an animal rights campaigner and also co-founded the first British women's police service. The Women Police Volunteers, later known as the Women's Auxiliary Service, were a forerunner to women being introduced into the Metropolitan Police. She helped set up the International Anti-Vivisection and Animal Protection Congress in London in July 1909, working to end cruelty to animals, animal testing and the slaughter of animals for meat.

She lived at this house at 10 Cheyne Walk in London until she died at the age of 47.

Madame C.J. Walker

Regarded as being the first female self-made millionaire in America, Madam C.J. Walker established a successful business selling beauty and hair products for black women. Born Sarah Breedlove, she learned about hair care from her brothers after suffering scalp ailments due to poor diet, harsh products and poor plumbing facilities. She developed her own product line and went on to employ several thousand women as sales agents, as well as teaching black women how to budget, build their own businesses and become financially independent.

Walker commissioned Vertner Tandy, the first licensed black architect in New York City, to design her house in Irvington-on-Hudson. Known as Villa Lewaro, it became a gathering place for community leaders and a conference centre on race relation issues.

Jane Austen

The prominent writer Jane Austen was one of the first female authors to enter the limelight, being courageous enough to write without a male pen name, as most other women did at the time to avoid prejudice and to get their foot in the door of what was a sexist industry. She boldly claimed her feminity by using the pseudonym "A Lady", and went on to write six major novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

Austen lived in this house for the last 8 years of her life and it's where she wrote, revised and published the six works she is most renowned for.

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activist Alliance and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a group committed to helping young drag queens and trans women of color who lived on the streets. A mixed race Venezuelan-Puerto Rican trans woman, she tirelessly fought for the vulnerable people who had been marginalized by the mainstream side of the gay rights movement, at a time when the term “transgender” wasn't familiar to most.

Rivera's last residence was Transy House on Park Slope, a safe haven for trans and gender non-conforming people, as well as being a centre for political activism.

Anne Frank

Writer of the most famous diary in the world, Anne Frank gave a poignant glimpse into the life of a young teenage girl in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during WWII. Anne and her family, who were German-born Jews, were forced into hiding when Anne's sister Margot was selected for work in a forced-labor camp. They remained in hiding for 2 years before being discovered and deported to Nazi concentration camps. Anne died during her imprisonment, but her writing allowed people all around the world to learn about the mistreatment she and her family suffered.

This is the office of Anne's father Otto, which contained the "Secret Annexe", a three-story space hidden at the back of the building, that the Frank family were forced to live in for 2 years, .

Amelia Earhart

The first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, Earhart also played a key role in forming an organization for other professional female pilots known as The Ninety-Nines that provided networking, mentoring, and flight scholarship opportunities. Relentlessly breaking down barriers against women, Earhart worked as an aeronautical engineering councillor and women's career councillor at Purdue university. She disappeared during an attempt to fly around the globe, a mystery that still prevails today.

This is Earhart's birthplace and early childhood home in Atchinson, Kansas. It is now maintained by The Ninety-Nines as a museum dedicated to the world's most influential female aviator.

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