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Curator Ashleigh D. Coren Proves “Where There Is a Woman There Is Magic”

Formal photograph of Sarah Winnemucca dressed in native clothing

Sarah Winnemucca photographed by Norval H. Busey. 1883. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

In discussions of American history, women's contributions often go unmentioned. At our National Portrait Gallery, women's history content and interpretation curator Ashleigh D. Coren challenges that pattern.

Coren's new online exhibition, Where There Is a Woman There Is Magic, highlights the accomplishments and challenges of 20 lesser-known women. These women include entrepreneurs, activists, movie stars, athletes, and artists.

In the exhibition, you will learn about women such as advocate and author Sarah Winnemucca (Numa, known as the Northern Paiute). Winnemucca, born Thocmetony (Shell Flower), spoke English and Spanish as well as several Indigenous languages. She used her language skills to improve diplomatic communications between Paiute leaders and U.S. government officials.

In 1883, Winnemucca launched a speaking tour across the East Coast. She delivered more than 300 lectures about how Indigenous peoples were being mistreated in the West. She also published the first known autobiography of a Native woman.

Learn more stories when you view Where There Is a Woman There Is Magic: Highlights from the National Portrait Gallery's Collection on Google Arts and Culture.

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