Historical Heroines

Heroines of the past who were active at some point between the late 18th century and the mid-20th century.

From Alice to Yva, explore the archive of Historical Heroines and learn about the rich lives and careers of pioneering women photographers. As we continue our mission, our online archives will continue grow.

Researched, written and curated by our volunteers. If you would like to contribute to this valuable resource, sign up to volunteer today.

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Marta Hoepffner

Marta Hoepffner (1912–2000) was a German experimental artist and abstract photographer. She was a pioneer of photomontage and the photogram in the 1930s and the kinetic art movement in the 1960s....

Martha Holmes

Martha Holmes (1923-2006) was one of LIFE Magazine’s pioneering women photographers of the 1940s and 1950s....

Mary Dillwyn Photograph

Mary Dillwyn

Pioneering photographer who worked during the 1840s and 1850s, is widely considered to be the earliest female photographer in Wales....

Miss Woods, circa 1905 © Estate of Minna Keene : courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery

Minna Keene

Often referred to as Canada’s first professional woman photographer, Minna was born in Germany in 1861....

Nancy Sheung

Nancy Sheung

Chinese photographer Nancy Sheung was determined to break all the rules and conventions of her time, with unusual means to success....

Nina Leen

Nina Leen (1914-1995) was one of LIFE Magazine’s pioneering female photographers of the 1940s and 1950s...

Norah Lyle Smyth

Norah Lyle-Smyth

Norah documented the early years of British suffrage and the ground-breaking work of socialist Sylvia Pankhurst in London’s East End....

Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton was one of the most important 20th century Australian modernist photographers. Based in Cowra, her pioneering work spanned the 1930s and 40s...

Olive Edis

Mary Olive Edis (1876-1955) opened her first studio with sister in Norfolk, UK. She was one of the first women to accepted as a member of the RPS....

Rose Mandel

Rose Mandel

The work of Rose Mandel shows a variety of dreamlike, symbolistic and abstract expressionistic images, charged with subtle meanings...

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