Celebrate Women’s History in Nebraska

March is Women's History Month, commemorating the significant roles of women in American history. The following are some notable women and places where you can celebrate Nebraska girl power.


Edwina Justus

Justus was hired at Union Pacific in the 1970s and was one of five black women who worked in the Omaha office. Within a few short years, she would become the company’s first female African American locomotive engineer. Learn more about Edwina and others at a temporary Women of Railroad display at North Platte’s Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. While there also check out the story of the North Platte Canteen, one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II, led by women! A full canteen display can also be seen at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

Golden Spike Tower
Courtesy: Golden Spike Tower

Eve Bowring

Bowring was appointed to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy in 1954, making her the first woman to represent Nebraska in the Senate. After her time in Washington DC, Bowring continued ranching with her husband near Merriman. Upon her death in 1985, the Bowring Ranch was donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, becoming Bowring Ranch State Historical Park where travelers can learn more about the ranching heritage of the Sandhills. The house displays fine antique china, crystal and silver collected by Bowring herself.

Evelyn Sharp

Sharp was Nebraska’s best-known early aviatrix. She became interested in flying at age 14 and received her commercial pilot’s license at 18. At 20, Evelyn became an instructor. Over 350 men learned flying from her and she was the nation’s first female airmail pilot. On April 3, 1944, at the age of 24, Sharp was killed in a crash. At the time of her death she was a squadron commander only three flights from her fifth rating, the highest certificate then available to women. She is buried in Ord and the local airfield is named for her: Evelyn Sharp Airfield. Learn more about Sharp at a Women in Aerospace exhibit at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum.

Evelyn Sharp
Courtesy: History Nebraska

Grace Abbott

Abbott was an American social worker who worked to improve the rights of immigrants and child welfare, especially the regulation of child labor. The Grand Island native was the first woman to be nominated for a Presidential cabinet position but was not confirmed. Abbott is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame, which recognizes prominent individuals from the state of Nebraska. Busts located on the second floor of the Nebraska State Capitol commemorate members of the Hall of Fame. Other women featured are Willa Cather, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Mari Sandoz and Susette LaFlesche Tibbles.

State Capitol

Mildred Brown

Brown was an African American journalist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement in Omaha where she and her husband founded and ran the Omaha Star, a newspaper for the African American community. In the 1960s President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as a goodwill ambassador to east Germany. The Omaha Star is still a staple in the North Omaha communities Historic Jazz District and just next door is Mildred D. Brown Memorial Park, where a bust of Brown can be seen.

Courtesy: History Nebraska

Rose Blumkin

Blumkin founded the Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1937 and helped her family build it into the nation's largest home furniture store. The philanthropist lived to 104 and in the 1980’s bought the historic Astro Theater in downtown Omaha, saving it from demolition. Today, the Omaha Theater Company runs the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center  (The Rose Theater) there, which stages performances for youth.

nf mart

Sarah Joslyn

Joslyn moved to Nebraska with her husband in the 1890’s for business and ended up leaving a lasting legacy for Omaha. The city’s first millionaires, the couple would build a home known today as the Joslyn Castle. Upon her husband’s death Sarah focused her efforts on creating a memorial to him. This museum was gifted to the city of Omaha and today the Joslyn Art Museum is the principal fine arts museum in the state.


Susan Lafleshe Picotte

La Flesche Picotte was the first American Indian woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. In her remarkable career she was an active social reformer as well as a physician. On Nebraska's first officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021, a bronze sculpture of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was unveiled by her descendants on Lincoln’s Centennial Mall. Efforts are currently underway to save and restore her 1913 hospital in Walthill and turn it in to the Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center.

Susan LaFleshe Picotte

Willa Cather

Cather achieved recognition as a novelist of the pioneer experience. She wrote of the spirit of those settlers moving into the western states, like Nebraska, in the 1800s. Much of her work was inspired by the town she grew up in Red Cloud. Today, The National Willa Cather Center in downtown Red Cloud leads tours all over the area showcasing the places that inspired this author, including her family’s homes.