Stories of Persistence and Influence
The Center for Local History’s Community Archives contains many collections pertaining to women’s history, and the history of Arlington County. But the names of these women were often not well known. Though frequently hidden in the background until now, these women were nonetheless groundbreakers and trailblazers, important forces working for better education, libraries, and conservation. They helped found Arlington’s first hospital, and they fought for civil rights. Their contributions to the growth and development of their community were immense, and Arlington today would not be the same without them.
“Typing in the office, knocking on a neighbor’s door, or visiting over a backyard clothes line, Arlington women have frequently followed modest paths to larger social activism and professional responsibility. We salute them here and offer them as models of how ordinary people, willing to fight for a cause, work for change, or challenge assumptions can accomplish the extraordinary.”
- Notable Women of Arlington, Third Series, March 1993
“I always feel that people who know something about the community they live in…. are much better citizens.”
She was known as the “List Lady,” and later called the “Michael Jordan of planning.”
…“to provide public kindergarten and to provide education for every child—the handicapped and those who were especially bright.”
Six months before women officially won the right to vote, Carrie Chapman Catt called for a national “League of Women Voters” to mobilize and educate new women voters.
In the 1920s, entrepreneur Ruby Lee Minar built a real estate empire so expansive that the American Business Review described her as the “most successful woman in realty development in the country.”
Arlington’s population grew rapidly during World War II. As many stayed after the war, Arlington found its school system, which had previously served a much smaller and more more rural population, stretched thin.
In 1973, Ellen Bozman first ran for the Arlington County Board under the slogan “Let’s keep Arlington a good place to live…and make it better.”
Those familiar with the history of the neighborhood will be unsurprised that the same community that includes one of Arlington’s oldest buildings, can also lay claim to the earliest roots of the Library system.
The ACPLC’s purpose was to “establish a library service that would provide good reading for the children” in South Arlington.
“You will never succeed… It will soon die out… Some will come out of curiosity, get a book, and never come back or return your book.”
The origins of the Aurora Hills Branch Library date to 1926, when the Jefferson District Women’s Club organized a collection of about 500 books in J. Lee Price’s small real estate office.
Beginning in the 1950s, Dr. Knipling worked hard to create a more engaging, participatory science curriculum.
In the midst of a world war, these women used their spiritual ties to come together and better their community, whether “community” meant Arlington or the broader global community.
The idea for the Cherrydale Library began at a Cherrydale League of Women Voters meeting during the spring of 1924.
…“a rat in a trap,” caught there “merely for holding a banner in front of the White House.”
“I would throw on a pair of overalls and get right out there on the job. Many times the suppliers and inspectors had a hard time believing that I was for real and really knew what I was doing. But, I made them believe.”