Lawrence has a proud early history of notable women according to Sarah Bell, Development Director at Watkins Museum. Bell has a passion for local history, especially stories about activist women. A number of profiles were shared of women working in the city in the 1800’s. The contributions of black women are often overlooked, but there was Ida Wallace who owned and operated a successful restaurant located on North Massachusetts. At the other end of Massachusetts, black entrepreneurs Amanda Johnson and Medor Renfro ran a popular bakery.

Mary McCullogh was also a successful business woman of the time who operated a restaurant and invested in real estate, making deals with prominent men of the community. Seamstress Mary Barnes taught her trade to young women and hosted Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony on their 1867 visit to Lawrence. There were a number of women doctors practicing in the late 1800s. Lucy H. Taylor may have been the first woman with a degree to practice dentistry.

Sarah Bell does historical walking tours and shares stories of remarkable women who contributed to the community. She earned a Masters Degree in Museum Studies and a Doctorate in History from the University of Kansas.