Women in Kentucky - Business

Lena Madesin Phillips: Lena Madesin Phillips first had a career in music and a dream of becoming a concert pianist. But in 1917 she started life anew, and became the first woman to graduate from the University of Kentucky Law School. Phillips’ legal career was brand new when WWI broke out and changed her path yet again. She began working with the YWCA’s National Business Women’s Committee and it was during this time that she researched the need for an organization that would bring together business and professional women from around the nation. She helped found the National Federation off Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC) in St. Louis in 1919.

She continued her law career after the war in New York, but she became more involved with NFBPWC in the 1920s. She focused the organization on issues such as child labor, equal pay for women, peace efforts, and endorsement of the ERA. In 1930, Phillips was successful in beginning the International Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (IFBPWC) and she remained president until 1947. She died in 1955, following surgery for a perforated ulcer on her way to a meeting of business and professional women in the Middle East.

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Site Overview


A. What

Performing Arts
Public Service

B. When

View a selected history of women
View a selected history of women
Sounds and images
Civil War Diaries

C. Where

Central / Northern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
Southern Kentucky


Selected Readings
Educational Tools
Web tools
Archival Collections
Children's Books

E. About this Project

Women in Sports:

Minnie Adkins
Elizabeth Barret, Anne Lewis, Mimi Pickering, & Justine Richardson
Jane Burch Cochran
Joan Dance
Enid Yandell

Women in Business:

Nelda Barton-Collings
Julia Dinsmore
Laura Freeman
Mattie Mack
Lena Madesin Phillips
Caroline Burnam Taylor

Women in Education:

Helen Lew Lang
Katherine Pettit
Jane Stephenson
Cora Wilson Stewart

Women in Health/Medicine:

Mary Britton
Linda Neville
Ora Framer Porter
Louise Southgate, M.D.

Women in Journalism:

Linda Boileau
Alice Allison Dunnigan

Women in Law:

Pearl Carter Pace
Lt. Colonel Linda Smith

Women in Literature:

Effie Waller Smith

Women in Military:

Lt. Anna Mac Clarke
Capt. Helen Horlacher Evans
Julia Ann Marcum

Women in Music:

Sarah Ogan Gunning
Helen Humes
Lily May Ledford
Reel World String Band
Jean Ritchie
Mary Wheeler

Women as Pioneers:

Esther Whitley

Women in Public Service:

Governor Martha Layne Collins
Emma Guy Cromwell
Rep. Mary Elliott Flanery
Sen. Georgia Davis Powers
Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall

Women in Reform:

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Laura Clay
Eula Hall
Josephine Henry
Belinda Mason
Lois Morris
Eliza Caroline Calvert Obenchain
Charlotte Richardson
Joan Robinett
Mary Sue Whayne
Corinne Whitehead
Evelyn Williams

Women in Religion:

Eldress Nancy Moore
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks

Women in Science:

Sarah Frances Price
Ellen Churchill Semple

Women in Sports:

Terri Cecil-Ramsey
Geri Grigsby
Audrey Whitlock Peterson
Mary T. Meagher Plant