From the Stacks: Pre-1972 Women’s History Quiz

Can you name 10 women who have made important contributions to American history and development? (No presidents’ wives, writers or singers–and no one living today.)

If this was difficult, try naming 10 men. Easy?

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve gone back into the archives and found this delightful quiz originally printed in the September 1972 issue of Ms., written by Gerda Lerner.

Try your hand at feminist history with these 18 questions. Whether you know the answers or not, they may be a pleasant surprise.


Let’s just say if you get more than 9 right, you’re a feminist genius. Click the thumbnail to the left to see the original answer sheet.


  1. I contest your statement that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the leading theorist of the women’s movement. Don’t erase Matilda Joslyn Gage!

  2. Would you be appeased with “one of”?

  3. 13 out of 18! Whoot!

  4. On the quiz: Alexandra Tweten re Dorothea Dix – the words should be mentally “disabled” and physically “disabled”. One woman who made a huge change and who is dead, is/was Frieda Zames PhD, one of the founders of The NYC City Council named the law capping rents for people with disabilities (DRIE) for her. With her sister, Frieda Zames wrote, “The Disability Rights Movement:From Charity to Confrontation”, Doris Zames Fleischer & Frieda Zames, Temple University Press, 2001. Frieda Zames taught me that keeping wheelchair users out of meetings and other events due to lack of wheelchair access was segregation.

  5. Bill Localio says:

    I understand why you excluded writers and president’s wives from your challenge of naming 10 influential women in US History, but that excludes some very strong influences. Why exclude Harriet Beecher Stowe? Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the most influential book pre-Civil War and was critical to the anti-slavery movement. Surely Rachel Carson was influential; Silent Spring ignited the environmental movement. Yes, Eleanor Roosevelt was a president’s wife, but she did some important stuff on her own. Ida Tarbell was the most influential muckracker of the Progressive Movement and exposed Standard Oil. And surely Ms Magazine would consider Betty Friedan important! I’ll let you have the exclusion of singers from this list even though Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” was more than a popular song.

    Nobody thoughtful will argue your main point: our history texts have excluded women. Many people would have a hard time listing 10 influential women without any exclusions. But all these women had major influences on our society and shouldn’t be left out just to make a point.

  6. T.G. (curry student) says:

    I am shocked to learn all of this information. Its sad that men always receive the praise for the work they have done. Women are just as smart as men or even smarter in some cases. Women should be proud of what they have accomplished and where we are today. However, we always should strive for more equality.

  7. Carolina Constituent says:

    Eleven/Eighteen. I'm quite proud to be a so called feminist genius at not even eighteen years old.

  8. 12 out of 18 – I am proud of that score, and even more proud that as a Canadian woman, I read about all of those ladies on my own and I remembered them all!

    More quizzes like this, please!


  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Facebook by David Benzaquen: Test your knowledge of pre-1972 feminist history! I scored a 12 out of 18. Let me know how you do!

  2. […] great, by the way), and in honor of Women’s History Month, I’m directing you to their Pre-1972 Women’s History Quiz. The quiz originally appeared in the 1972 issue of Ms. and was written by Gerda […]

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