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A Woman of the Century:   A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

March 24 - March 31

Women of the Week

Anna Churchill Wait, Melissa Elizabeth Riddle Banta, Rhoda Holmes Nicholls, and Charlotte Johnson Baker are this week's Women of the Week.

  • To learn about them by viewing their items, please click on their images.  

  • To read their biographical sketches in A Woman of the Century, please click on the highlighted page numbers to the left of their images.

Anna C. Wait (2).jpg

WAIT, Mrs. Anna C.

March 26, 1837

woman suffragist

Medina County, OH

Born Anna A. Churchill, on March 26, 1837, in Medina County, Ohio, suffragist, orator, teacher and newspaper owner Mrs. Anna C. Wait was a notable woman. An early entrepreneur, from the age of eleven she prided herself in being self-supporting.

Married at the early age of twenty to Walter S. Wait, on December 13, 1857. At the outbreak of the Civil War, her husband enlisted and being the sole caregiver for their son, Alfred Hovey Wait, she provided for them both by teaching.

Due to her husband's poor health, she had to forsake teaching and get involved in the Lincoln Beacon, a reform paper they started in 1880. 

Anna actively participated in the Lincoln, Kansas Woman Suffrage Association and the Ohio Equal Suffrage Association. She performed many official roles in these suffrage organizations, as well as in the State Equal Suffrage Association, in 1884. Her advocacy led to the passing of suffrage legislation in Kansas, bestowing municipal suffrage on women there.  In addition, Anna played an active role in the business world

Melissa Elizabeth Riddle Banta 2.jpg

BANTA, Mrs. Melissa Elizabeth Riddle

March 27, 1834


Cheviot, OH

p. 52-53

Melissa Elizabeth Riddle Banta, a native of Cheviot, Ohio, was born on March 27, 1834. She attended Wesleyan Female Institute in Cincinnati and Female Collegiate Institute in Covington, Kentucky.  After teaching early in her career, Melissa focused on her family and her writing. 

In 1853, just a year after marrying Joseph I. Perrin, Melissa lost him to yellow fever.  She gave birth to their infant daughter, but the baby only survived a few weeks.  Melissa returned to live with her parents and married David D. Banta in 1856.  They raised their three children in Franklin, Indiana.

After Melissa and her daughter Mabel traveled to Europe in 1887,  she wrote about her travels.  In 1895, Phenix Press published her Songs of Home, a book of poems that she dedicated to her late mother.  Her work was featured in the March 1894 edition of A Magazine of Poetry and included a biographical sketch by Margaret Holmes Bates, who had written this sketch the year before for A Woman of the Century.

She passed away in Chicago on  May 1, 1907, and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin, Indiana.


Rhoda Holmes Nichols (3).jpg

NICHOLLS, Mrs. Rhoda Holmes

March 28, 1854


Coventry, Warwickshire, ENG

p. 535

Rhoda Holmes Nicholls was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England, on March 28, 1854.  She was educated in the Bloomsbury School of Art and became an artist, an art teacher, and an author.

Contemporaries thought highly of Rhoda.  William Dean Howells included four of her pieces in his 1892 book Venetian Life.  Writing about her the next year, a journalist for Washington, D. C.'s Evening Star noted:

"Mrs. Rhoda Holmes Nicholls holds a high place in the front ranks of the lady artists of New York.  She has a large house on 50th street, which she has arranged for her work, and here holds her classes.  She is one of the cleverest painters in New York."

Nicholls shared her work in exhibitions at the American Art Association and The Society of American Artists, and she was a member of the Arts Club of New York City.

Rhoda passed away on September 7, 1930.

Charlotte Johnson Baker edited photo from Amy.jpg

BAKER, Mrs. Charlotte Johnson

March 30, 1855


Newburyport, MA

p. 46

Charlotte Johnson Baker, born on March 30, 1855, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, was educated in her local high school and Vassar College.  Later, she earned her Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Michigan and was awarded a Master of Arts degree "for special work in optics and ophthamology done after graduation" (A Woman of the Century, 46).

She and her husband, also a doctor, moved to San Diego and practiced there.  According to a recent article, a descendant described Charlotte as "the first female M.D. in San Diego, who was well known for delivering over 1,000 babies." In addition to spending her time with patients and raising her family, Charlotte was a member of the WCTU and advocated for women's causes.  As her profile notes, "Dr. Baker has always identified herself with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and with all other movements for the advancement of women individually, socially, and politically" (46).

Charlotte was an active participant in many organizations and sometimes spoke at their conventions.  Some of these organizations were the San Diego County Medical Society, the Southern California Anti-Tuberculosis League, and the California Equal Suffrage Association.  Dr. Baker also had a keen interest in the idea of parents having equal participation in child raising.

She passed away on October 31, 1937.