In honor of Women’s History Month, we highlight a few female pioneers from the state’s past and present. Whether they’re activists, entertainers, artists or leaders in business, they’ve left an indelible mark on Oklahoma.

11Kate Barnard

106, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS


Catherine “Kate” Barnard was the first woman to be elected as a state official in Oklahoma, as well as the second woman to be elected to a statewide public office in the United States.

10Zelia Breaux

Photo courtesy Harry Wotten/Oklahoma Historical Society


Zelia N. Breaux was an American music instructor and musician who played the trumpet, violin and piano. She organized the first music department at Langston University in Oklahoma and the school’s first orchestra.

9Clara Luper

Photo courtesy Robert Taylor/Oklahoma Historical Society


Clara Luper was a civic leader, schoolteacher and pioneering leader in the American Civil Rights Movement.

8Betty Ferrol Riddle

Photo by Oklahoma Magazine


Betty Riddle was a member of the elite WASP group – Women Airforce Service Pilots. She worked with the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Confederate Air Force, the Bi-Plane Association, the Antique Aircraft Association, and was a life member of the women’s flying organization known as the 99’s.

7Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher

Photo courtesy Joe Miller/the Oklahoma Historical Society


Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma. She applied for admission into the University of Oklahoma law school in order to challenge the state’s segregation laws and to become a lawyer.

6Moscelyne Larkin

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society


Edna Moscelyne Larkin Jasinski was an American ballerina and one of the “Five Moons,” – Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who gained international fame in the 20th century. She later went on to found Tulsa Ballet with her husband, Roman Jasinski.

5Maria Tallchief

Photo courtesy the Oklahoma Historical Society


Marie Tallchief was an American ballerina and was considered America’s first major prima ballerina. She was the first Native American to hold the rank.

4Jerrie Cobb

Photo courtesy Richard Cobb/Oklahoma Historical Society


Jerrie Cobb was an American aviator. She set three aviation records in her 20s: the 1959 world record for nonstop long-distance flight, the 1959 world light-plane speed record, and a 1960 world altitude record for lightweight aircraft. She was also America’s first female astronaut candidate.

3Wanda Jackson

Photo courtesy Joe Miller/the Oklahoma Historical Society


Wanda Jackson is an American singer and songwriter. She was among the first women to have a career in rock and roll, recording a series of 1950s singles that helped give her the nickname “The Queen of Rockabilly.”

2Wilma Mankiller

2012.201.B0381.0403, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS


Wilma Mankiller was a Native American activist, social worker, community developer and the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

1Reba McEntire

2012.201.B0389.0007, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS


Reba McEntire is an American country music singer and actress. Dubbed “the Queen of Country,” she has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

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