1. Betsey Metcalf, an anti-slavery activist who, at 12 (a near-teen!), started the American straw hat industry.
Straw hats were kind of a big deal in the late 1700s, and Metcalf played a huge role in that. In 1798, a time when the hats were imported from England and prohibitively expensive, Metcalf figured out how to braid the straw herself for DIY bonnets. Her design became so popular that she taught other women to make them so they could work and make their own money. The straw hat making boom that followed not only became a multi-million dollar industry and set a major fashion trend, but the breathable hats also provided necessary headwear for enslaved people working in the relentless sun.
The type of contemporary movie that gets called “noir” nowadays doesn’t bear much resemblance to …