Database : Pioneers

Presented here is a database of influencial women who are affiliated in some way with Idaho. By default, the entries are presented chronologically by the order in which they were submitted. Would you like to submit a new woman to the database? Please navigate to the submit page.

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Dr. Mary Elizabeth Donaldson (Mary Craker)
01/12/1851 - 1941
Reedsburg, WI - Napa, CA


Mary became the only woman MD graduate from Wooster University in Cleaveland in 1892. In 1898 she and her husband founded the Idaho Sanitarium Institute, in which she gave free medical care. She and her husband founded the Donaldson Home for the Aging, and she helped found Idaho Magazine, published Reform Appeal and was an effective campaigner for prohibition.


Resources: "Boise's Dr. Mary E. Donaldson, Pioneer in Medicine and Elder Care"
Keywords: doctors, medical practitioners, prohibition
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Jennie Hughes Smith (Jennie Eva Hughes)
06/20/1877 - 08/19/1939
Washington, D.C. - Spokane, WA


Jennie, Class of 1899, was the first African-American to graduate from the University of Idaho. Born in Washington, D.C., her family settled in Moscow, Idaho in the early 1890s. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science, Jennie married George Smith and later had four children. Sadly, her son Berthol, who was the second African-American to enroll at the University of Idaho, died in 1919 while still a student.


Resources: Not of Noble Birth: the Triumph of Jennie Hughes Smith
Keywords: pioneers, idaho alumni
Contributed by: Annie Gaines



Abigail Scott Duniway
10/22/1834 - 10/11/1915
Groveland, IL - Portland, OR


Abigail Scott Duniway was a leader in Idaho's suffrage movement. She gave over 140 public lectures in Idaho from 1876 to 1895, and made a historic 6,000 word lecture to Idaho's statehood planning convention in 1880. In 1887 she began working full-time in Idaho towards equality. Idaho voted in 1896 to give women the vote because of Abigail's efforts.


Resources: "Abigail Scott Duniway: Mother of Woman Suffrage in the Pacific Northwest," By Grit and by Grace: Eleven Women Who Shaped the West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain
Keywords: politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Emma Yearian (Russell)
1865 - 12/25/1951
Leavenworth, KS - Dalmon, ID


Named the Sheep Queen of Idaho, Emma Yearian was elected to the Idaho Legislature in 1930. After she moved to the west at 21, Emma made a name for herself in the sheep business, starting with 1,200 ewes in Lemhi Valley. Her business prospered through the first World War, and she survived the great depression with her "head bloody but unbowed," she said.


Resources: Albright, Syd. "Amazing Emma Yearian," Coeur d'Alene Press, 2/8/2015
Keywords: pioneer, politician
Contributed by: Mike Bullard



Molly B'Damn (Maggie Hall)
12/26/1853 - 1/17/1888
Dublin, Ireland - Murray, ID


Originally from Dublin, Molly moved to the west to seek her fortune among the mining camps. She worked in Murray, Idaho under the name Molly B'Damn or Molly Burdan as a prostitute. She was also a humanitarian, who cared for the townspeople during the smallpox epidemic of 1886. Her legendary compassion led the citizens of Murray, Idaho to name an annual celebration in her honor.


Resources: Wikipedia - Maggie Hall
Keywords: pioneer
Contributed by: Annie Gaines