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Help Pick A Historic Cincinnati Woman

Courtesy Kristin Suess

Voting opens today for the 10th and final historic Cincinnati woman to be featured in a multimedia event this summer honoring "'10 ___ Women."

"The blank in the name '10 ___ Women'  is a space for a descriptive identifier, such as persistent, inspiring, innovative and fierce," says Kristen Suess, who is producing the project with her husband, Enquirer librarian and historian Jeff Suess. It is funded with a 2019 People’s Liberty Project Grant.

"Women have often been overlooked or overshadowed in history," Kristin Suess said in the announcement today. "We want to shine a light on some incredible women who have had an impact on Cincinnati but have been forgotten or mostly unrecognized. And we want to show their relevance to women today."

Credit Courtesy Kristin Suess
Ruth Lyons was Cincinnati's WLWT-TV's most popular star from 1949 to 1967.

The four women on the Facebook ballot are Ruth Lyons, Doris Twitchell Allen, Virginia Coffey and Frances Trollope. The winner will be announced Friday, April 5. 

Nine women were selected at a Feb. 21 meeting at People's Liberty philanthropic lab, 1805 Elm St., from a list of 15 compiled by Kristen and Jeff.  They are:

Theda Bara, the first sex symbol of the silent film era.

Dorothy Dolbey, the first woman to serve as mayor of Cincinnati.

Cora Dow, the entrepreneur of the Dow’s Drugs chain of drugstores.

Credit Courtesy Kristin Suess
Civil rights activist Virginia Coffey

Sarah Fossett, an operative in the Underground Railroad who desegregated the city’s streetcars.

Dottie Kamenshek, a champion baseball player of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Edna Murphey, the founder of Odorono anti-perspirant who changed advertising.

Sister Anthony O’Connell, a nun who worked as a field nurse during the Civil War.

Jessie M. Partlon, a pioneering journalist and women’s rights activist.

Venus Ramey, the former Miss America who turned to politics.

Credit Courtesy Kristin Suess
Doris Twitchell Allen founded CSIV International in 1946

One of these four will join the first 10 after the Facebook vote:

Ruth Lyons, Cincinnati's most popular TV star in the 1950s and '60s, had her weekday WLWT-TV show broadcast on NBC in 1951-52. Shefounded the Ruth Lyons' Children's Fund which has raised more than $21 million to provide toys and entertainment for hospitalized children since 1939.

Doris Twitchell Allen, a Cincinnati child psychologist who founded CISV International as the Children's International Summer Villages program to teach peace education to children in 1946, after World War II. Today CISV operates in 69 countries and over 200 cities around the world.

Virginia Coffey, a civil rights advocate, helped desegregate Cincinnati swimming pools and Coney Island amusement parkin 1961. She was the first African-American and first woman to serve as executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission from 1968 to 1973.

Credit Courtesy Kristin Suess
Frances Trollope opened Trollope's Bazaar department store here in 1828.

Frances Trollope, the English novelist and travel writer who opened Trollope’s Bazaar department store here in 1828and other artistic ventures. After returning to England, she wrote Domestic Manners of the Americans about her experience in the United States.

The  10 ___ Women will be celebrated in June with a visual display, a publication explaining their achievements and a dramatic or cinematic portrayal, Kristin says. The date and location will be announced later, she says.

The 14 women were culled from a list of 25 devised by Kristin and her husband from his research writing Enquirer history stories. "We have been churning through this idea for a while with what Jeff writes, and we thought it would be nice to get some more bandwidth for these people," she says.

"It was hard to eliminate some women. All are notable," she says. "We hope this is just the beginning. We hope there's a second round and a third round, even if we're not running it."

From the release: People’s Liberty is a philanthropic lab that brings together civic­-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati. People’s Liberty invests directly in individuals through funding and mentorship, creating a new, replicable model for grant makers in other cities. People’s Liberty is powered by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation.


John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.