11 Wow-Worthy Women from New Jersey

New Jersey is home to many remarkable, awe-inspiring women.

March is Women’s History Month.

Vintage Clapping

Read about some of our favorite, inspirational women!

1. Dorothea Dix

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons

 

Known as America’s first mental health activist, Dorothea Dix was a strong woman who fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.  She founded the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in 1848, the first public mental health hospital in the state. Dix also helped convince the New Jersey legislature to build Greystone Psychiatric Hospital (a $2.5 million project) to alleviate overcrowding at the Trenton hospital. If that’s not enough to impress, she also was the Superintendent of Army Nurses during the Civil War.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Clara Barton

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Flickr Creative Commons

Known as the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton was also a pioneer in education. In 1852, Barton founded the state’s first free public school in Bordentown. Three schools in the state carry her name: Clara Barton Elementary School in Cherry Hill, Clara Barton School in Bordentown, and Clara Barton High School in Elizabeth. If ever on the turnpike in Oldmans, New Jersey, make a pit stop at the Clara Barton Service Area, named in her honor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Toni Morrison

Esteemed author of Beloved and The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the Nobel Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 1989, Morrison joined the creative writing program at Princeton University and retired from the school in 2006. She also spent time teaching at Howard University and Rutgers University, and was the commencement speaker for the Rutgers graduating class of 2011. Morrison’s new novel, God Help the Child, comes out on April 21.

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Flickr Creative Commons

4. Jill Biden

The second lady was born in Hammonton and spent summers waiting tables down the shore. Since then she’s racked up quite a list of accomplishments, earning two masters and a doctoral degree. Her passion for education has never waned: after teaching in Delaware public schools for 13 years, she’s now an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

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Flickr Creative Commons

5. Christine Todd Whitman

New Jersey’s first (and so far only) female governor served from 1994-2001. Raised in Hunterdon County, Whitman later acted as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush from 2001-2003.

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Flickr Creative Commons

6. Meryl Streep

A woman who needs no introduction, but here’s one anyway. The Summit native is a three-time Academy Award winner, and has more Oscar nominations than any actor or actress in history. Beloved and respected, Meryl is class incarnate. But you already knew that.

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Flickr Creative Commons

7. Judy Blume

Credit: Elena Seibert

Judy Blume, born and raised in Elizabeth, has sold more than 85 million books, translated into 32 languages. Her coming of age novels have influenced generations of readers by tackling tough topics such as racism, menstruation, divorce and sex. Blume, an advocate of intellectual freedom, works with the National Coalition Against Censorship in support of teachers, librarians and students. Her first adult novel in over 15 years, In the Unlikely Event, is set to be released June 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Joetta Clark Diggs

Joetta-Headshot-2014

Credit: Joetta Sports & Beyond

 

The East Orange native has a long list of impressive accolades: Clark Diggs is a four-time Olympian (’88, ’92, ’96, ’00) and has one of the longest track and field careers of any athlete in modern history. She is an author, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for children’s health and fitness. Clark Diggs founded Joetta Sports & Beyond, and awards scholarships to high school seniors under the Joetta Clark Diggs Sports Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Alice Paul

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Born in 1885 in Moorestown, Alice Paul was a prominent women’s rights activist. She was arrested several times in England and America during suffragist protests and spent many nights in jail campaigning for the right to vote. She founded the National Women’s Party with Lucy Burns in 1916, and was part of the first group to picket outside the White House (nicknamed the “Silent Sentinels.”) After women were granted the right to vote in 1920, Paul introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment to Congress in 1923—though it wasn’t taken seriously until the Civil Rights Movement forty years later.

 

 

 

 

10. C. Vivian Stringer

Rutgers University women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer has many reasons to be proud: she was the first coach (men and women’s) to take three different schools to the Final Four (Cheyney in 1982, Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers, in 2000 and 2007). Stringer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, and was named one of the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” by Sports Illustrated in 2003.

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Flickr Creative Commons

11. Judge Esther Salas

Credit: New Jersey District Court

Credit: New Jersey District Court

 

Judge Esther Salas is the first Hispanic woman appointed to the federal New Jersey District Court, and was nominated for the position in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Salas grew up in Union City, and later attended Rutgers University School of Law in Newark. She famously sentenced Real Housewife Teresa Guidice to prison for mortgage and bankruptcy fraud in 2014.

 

 

 

 

Did we miss someone you admire? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. glencris3 .

    How about Linda Hunt (born Lydia Susanna Hunter) 4/2/45 in Morristown NJ who brilliantly portrays “Hetty” on NCIS Los Angeles

  2. Deanton

    Meryl Streep isn’t a Summit native. She was born at Overlook Hospital in Summit and raised in Bernardsville. Her family never lived in Summit.

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