A hefty inheritance -- and a desire to do good -- helped Annie Turner Wittenmyer become one of America's foremost women reformers. Born Annie Turner on August 26, 1827, she married a man named William Wittenmyer and moved from Ohio to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1850. Wittenmyer's husband died shortly before the Civil War broke out, leaving her considerable wealth.
Wittenmyer chose to invest her money -- and her labors -- in the war effort. She became secretary of her local Soldiers' Aid Society and traveled frequently to army encampments. Ambitious about her cause, she launched a statewide system of collecting and distributing hospital supplies. Her organization grew rapidly, and in 1862, she was appointed the state sanitary agent.
In 1863 Wittenmyer was appointed the president of the Iowa State Sanitary Commission. Meanwhile, a rival all-male organization, the Iowa Army Sanitary Commission, was stepping up its attempts to take control of its female counterpart. The two groups feuded during Wittenmyer's presidency. Charged with mismanagement of her organization, she successfully refuted the accusations. Still, the damage was done, and in May of 1864, she left the Commission.
Wittenmyer nevertheless continued her relief work. With support from the United States Christian Commission, she realized her dream of installing special dietary kitchens in army hospitals. The first was created in Nashville, Tennessee. Other women, under her guidance, installed more kitchens. Her efforts proved to be a success and by the end of the Civil War, the male-dominated army medical department incorporated Wittenmyer's idea.
Wittenmyer switched courses in 1873, when she threw her support behind the temperance, or anti-alcohol, cause, as had other female reformers like Mary Livermore. Wittenmyer attended the convention that formed the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and was nominated its first president. Politics soon split the organization, however. Wittenmyer's reluctance to incorporate the cause of woman suffrage into the WCTU caused her to lose her presidency to Frances Willard in 1879. Wittenmyer went on to form the Non-Partisan Woman's Christian Temperance Union, an organization that took temperance as its only cause.
From 1889-1890, Wittenmyer served as president of the Woman's Relief Corps and sought to bring recognition to the efforts of women in the Civil War. In 1892 she lobbied Congress for a bill that would grant pensions to former Civil War nurses. She was rewarded for her hard work when Congress granted her a pension at the age of 71. She died two years later, on February 2, 1900, in Sanatoga, Pennsylvania.
Thoroughbred racehorse Seabiscuit was the long shot that captured America's heart during the Depression.
With the clock ticking and the city under fire how many could be saved?
The inspiring story of the modern environmental movement.
The trial of Charles Julius Guiteau, who assassinated President James A. Garfield, turned into a public battle over the meaning of insanity.
An African American civil rights leader, Ida B. Wells was born into slavery before becoming a journalist in Memphis.
America's first great songwriter, Stephen Foster, wrote 200 songs but died a penniless alcoholic at 37.
President Woodrow Wilson lead America during World War I, created the Federal Reserve, and helped create the League of Nations. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
Harry Truman was responsible for finding America's place at the start of the Cold War. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.