Unhistoricized Women Film Pioneers

…women were the main workforce in photographic manufacturing before the advent of motion pictures—in photo-finishing laboratories, photographic plate manufactures, and drying, cutting, and retouching film—and assumed similar work in the early motion picture industry.”  — Erin Hill, Never Done: A History of Women’s Work in Media Production (2016)

The following list of unassigned pioneers is by no means exhaustive and is always being updated. Please note that in some cases, especially within the United States, we were still investigating whether or not some of the women listed actually worked behind the scenes in some capacity. Please contact the editorial team (wfpp@columbia.edu) if you have any questions about a particular name, have any information, or can suggest a name.

There are currently 757 unhistoricized pioneers listed

Want to start researching a name? Some good places to start: The AFI Catalogue, Media History Digital Library, and the Treasures from the Film Archives database (requires a subscription or institutional access via ProQuest).


René Oro/Renée Oro
Elena Sansinena de Elizalde

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

Leontine Sagan

Anna Frijters
Aimee Navarra

Rosina Cianelli

Alice Fairweather
Yvonne Giguère (Mrs. Lucide Bertrand)
Marguerite Marquis
Lilian Whitney

Wang Ying
Qian Siying
Tang Xingtu
Li Dandan
Wang Caiyun

Portrait of Li Dandan after she joining in Minxin film company, published on the magazine, Motion Picture, No.27, p27, 1933

Portrait of Li Dandan in Motion Picture 27 (1933): 27.

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

Czech Republic and Slovakia
Andula Sedlackova
Anny Ondrakova
Hana Temná
Hermina Tyrlova
Irena Dodalova

Emmy Drachmannand
Helen Gammeltoft
Rigmor Holger-Madsen
Karen Michaëlis
Emma Pedersen
Rita Sacchetto
Ljut Steensgaard

Aziza Amir
Behidja Hafez
Amina Mohamed
Fatma Roushdi

Dian Tong Pictorial reporting on Wang Ying (a/w), after her starring in Goddess of Freedom / Statue of Liberty, Vol.6, 1935. PCSL

Wang Ying on cover of Dian Tong Pictorial in 1935.

Eeva Leino
Anna Kuosmanen
Sofia Thomasson

Marguerite Beaugé
Jeanne Bruno-Ruby
Mme. Chainet
Suzanne Devoyod
Marie-Louise Iribe
Claude Revol
Marguerite Vrignault

…Full list coming soon!

Fern Andra
Ella Bergmann-Michel
Jane Bess
Fanny Carlsen
Grace Chiang
Marie Luise Droop
Luise del Zopp
Lydie (Liddy) Hegewald
Hanna Henning
Luise Heilborn-Korbitz
Erna Morena
Hella Moja
Lotte Neumann
Ossi Oswalda
Henny Porten
Olga Tschechowa
Irmgard von Cube
Olga Wohlbruck

List of pioneers is still being verified by the country contact

Ilona Fülöp

List of pioneers is still being verified by the country contact

Maria Rosa Bermudez
Angelina Buracci
Diana D’Amore
Elettra Raggio

Yaoko Kinoshita
Kasen Nakamura
Ayame Mizushima
Yoshiko Okada
Utako Nakayama

The Netherlands
Dolly Rudeman

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

Zofia Dromlewiczowa
Jadwiga Golcz
Stefania Heymanowa
Wanda Kalinowska
Maria Morozowicza-Szczepkowska

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

Maria Wiesse

Russia/Former USSR
Olga Bebutova
Maria Benderskaia
Olga Blazhevich
Notia Danilova
Vera Eri
Aleksandra Smirnova-Iskander
Valentina Khmeliova
Nadezhda Kosheverova
Tamara Lobova
Tat’iana Nikolaevna Lukashevich
Olga Podgoretskaia
Serafima Roshal
Evgeniia Slovtsova
Maria Smirnova
Iulia Solntseva
Lidiia Stepanova
Vera Pavlovna Stroeva
Tat’iana Tolstaja
Olga Ulitskaia
Katerina Vinogradskaia
Ol’ga Vishnevskaia
Taisiia Zlatogorova/Zlatagorra
Bella Zorich

Darinka Jovanovič-Ignjacevic


List of pioneers is still being verified by the country contact.

Elena Jordi

Hanna Bernburg
Greta Berthels
Sigrid Calamnius
Märta Claeson
Maja Engelbrektson
Anna Johansson-Visborg
Ebba Lindqvist
Anna Myrberg
Elsa Nelson
Gabrielle Ringertz
Ellen Sandels
Svea Seving
Johanne Skram Knudsen
Alma Söderhjelm
Marika Stiernstedt
Agnete von Prangen
Elin Wägner

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

All known pioneers are published or currently in progress as of October 2023

United Kingdom
Mary Marsh Allen
Ethyle Batley
Helen Bliz(z)ard
Marjorie Bowen
Millicent Bromhead
Ady Brunel (Adey?)
Winifred Bryher
Elsie Codd
Ivy Close
Ethel M. Dell
Jane Denison
Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)
Frances E. Grant
Kate Gurney
Kathleen Hayden
Violet Hopson
Rita (aka Mrs Desmond  Humphreys)
Peggy Hyland
Nellie E. Locoque
Marcelle de St. Martin
Kathleen Mason
Peggy McCall
Edith Mellor
Violet Melnotte
Anne Bannister Merwin
Helena Millais
Irene Miller
Edith Nepean
Violet E. Powell
Alicia Ramsay
Ella (Hetty) Langford Reed
Dorothy Richardson
Grace Rose
Dorothy Smalley
E. Alma Stout
Alma Taylor
Lucy Heys Thompson
Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed
Marjorie V. Wilcox
May Wynne

Mildred Considine. AMPAS

Mildred Considine. Courtesy the of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

United States
Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
Violet Adams
Vivian Whittall Adams
Frances Agnew
Marian Ainslee
Anne Story Allen
Maxine Alton
Adeline M. Alvord
Louise Alvord
Mary Jobe Akeley
Doris Anderson
Leonora Ainsworth
Rosalie Ashton
Mary Asquith
Suzanne Avery
Ruby Mildred Ayres
Bertha A. Backus
Grace Helen Bailey
Nelly Bly Baker
E.F. [Ellen Frye] Barker
Carmen Barnes
Amelia Barr
Dona Barrell
Jean Bart
Rachel Barton Butler
Vicki Baum
Cora Beach
Pearl Doles Bell
Bessie Bender
Luella Rose Bender
Dwinelle Benthall
Elisabeth Bergner
Isadore Bernstein
Sylvia Bernstein Seid
Maud Lillian Berri
Ruth Biery
Mrs. Frances Maule Bjorkman
Ruth Black
Nan Blair
Violet Blair
Katherine R. Bleeker
Elizabeth Baker Bohan
Florence C. Boles
Bessie Boniel
Beth Boone
Inez Bowser
Mary Boyle
Lillian Trimble Bradley
Anna Fielder Brand
F. Marion Brandon
Marion J. Brandon
Lillian W. Brennan
Constance Brinsley
Gladys Brockwell
Elsie Bronson
Mrs. Owen Bronson
Marian Brooks
Alice C. Brown
Beth Brown
Betty Huntington Brown
Dorothy H. Brown
Leona Bryse
Beatrice Buch
Madeline Buckley
Natalie Bucknall
Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett
Julia Burnham
Viola Burhans
Ruth Byers
Anne Caldwell
Evelyn Campbell
Regina Carewe
Catherine Carr
Elaine Sterne Carrington
Mabel Z. Carroll
Ray Carroll
Ella Stuart Carson
Aline Carter
Louise Carter
Vera Caspary
Anne Morrison Chapin
Lillian Chapman
Josephine Chippo
Louise B. Clancy
Violet Clark
Bertha M. Clay
Kate Claxton
Kay Clement
Dorothy Cleveland
Lucy Lane Clifford
Emma Bell Clifton
Agnes Egan Cobb
Nan Cochran
Jeanette A. Cohen
Henrietta Cohn
Sarah Cole (Mrs. S. Cole?)
Maud Coleborn
Mrs. Tom Coleman
Laura Colfax
Nan Collins
Betty Compson
Harriet T. Comstock
Mrs. H.C. Conley
Mildred Considine
Mrs. Jack Coogan a.k.a. Lillian Coogan
Fanny Cook
Marjorie Benton Cook
Caroline Frances Cooke
Miriam Cooper
Olive Cooper
Maude Erve Corsan
Alta M. Coultas
Jane Courthope
Mildred Cox
Eva Cram
Mildred Cram
Maidee Crawford
Constance Crawley
Victoria Cross
Rachel Crothers
Lottie Cruze
Mitzie Cummings
Ruth Cummings
Cathrine Curtis
Mary Cutler
Camilla Dalberg
Ida Damon
Grace Darling
Nixola Daniels
Donnah Darrell
Marion Davies
Alta M. Davis
Betty Davis
Grace Davison
Madame Fred DeGresac
Leona De Lacey
Edith Barnard Delano
Bertha E. DeLecuona
Baroness DeMeyer/Olga Caracciolo
Lucille De Nevers
Mrs. Mary Ware Dennett
Frances Denton
Maxine Dicks
Mrs. Hugh C. Dierker
Josephine Dillon
Marion Dix
Ethel Doherty
Annie Hamilton Donnell
Mme. Doraldina
Kathryn Dougherty
Doris Drought
Georgette Duchesne
Helen Duey
Nellie Brown Duff
Alice Duffy
Anne Duffy
May Duncan
Dorothy Dunn
Jean DuPont
Alexia Durant
Catherine Van Dyke
Lynda Earle
Helen Jerome Eddy
May Edginton
Katharine Eggleston
Edith Ellis
Grace Elliot
May Whitney Emerson
F.T. Emery
Marie Eve
Alice Eyton
Mrs. Milton H. Fahrney
Jo Farnum
Geraldine Farrar
Mrs. Frank Farrington
Virginia Faulkner
Adrienne Fazan
Maude Fealy
Edna Ferber
Betty T. Fitzgerald
Janet Flanner
Adele Whitely Fletcher
Anne Crawford Flexner
Annie Flohm
Eleanor Flori
Julia Folsva
Elsie Van Name (Ford)
Victoria Forde
Izola Forrester
Marian Fox
Mary Fuller
Caroline Francke
Elizabeth Fraser
Eleanor L. Fried
Marie Hubert Frohman (aka Louis di Coucy or Couci)
Maude Fulton
Edith Ellis Furness
Pearl Gaddis
Elizabeth Gaskins
Eleanor Gates
Myrtle Gebhart
Jay Gelzer
Madame Marie Genores
Lela Gidley
M.E. Gibson
Jeanette L. Gilder
Anna H. Gill
Ethel Gillett
Birdie Gilmore
Louise Glaum
Maude Grange
Nellie Grant
Anna Katherine Green
Lillian Greenberger
Mrs. A. Greene
Mrs. E.L. Greer
Helen Gregg
Beverly Griffith
Eleanor Griffith
Linda A. Griffith
Olive Fuller Golden
Doris T. Goodfellow
Kitty Gordon
Frances Guihan
Ella Hall
Clair H. Hamack
Gertrude Brooke Hamilton
Helen Hamilton
Clara Smith Hamon
Hope Hampton
Frances Harmer
Elizabeth G. Harrel
Adele Harris
Kathryn Harris
Theodosia Harris
Marguerite Harrison
Mrs. Burton Harrison
Mrs. Carter H. Harrison
Betty Harte
Grace Haskins
Fanny Hattin
Ormi Hawley
Wanda Hawley
Lillie Hayward
Adelaide Heilbron
Elizabeth Chandler Hendrix
Florence Hein
Juile Herne
Nan Heron
Dorothy Herzog
Eleanore Hicks
Betty Hill
Ethel Hill
Helen Christine Hoerle
Georgia Hopkins
Una Nixson Hopkins
Mrs. Hoppe
Edna Wallace Hopper
Lottie Horner
Lillian Howarth
Dorothy Howell
Maude T. Howell
Virginia Tyler Hudson
Mrs. Rupert Hughes
Gladys Hulette
Mary Hunt
Gladys Hurlburt
Fannie Hurst
Lois Hutchinson
Leona Hutton (aka Mrs. Mary Epstein)
Frances Hyland
Alice Inwood
Rosalind Ivan
Jenni Jacobs
Rosalie S. Jacoby
Hazel Jamieson
Marion Jackson
Elsie Janis
Emilie Johnson
Isabelle Johnston
Mary Johnston
Helen Jonas
Jeanne Judson
Gail Kane
R. Carol Kapleau
Angela C. Kaufman
Pearl Keating
Bessie Mae Kelley
Virginia Kellog
Kitty Kelly
Peggy Kelly
Maude P. Kelso
Elizabeth Kendrick
Clara Genevieve Kennedy
Edith Kennedy
Ethel Kennedy
Madge Kennedy
Barbara Kent
Doris Kenyon
Evelyn Kenyon
Sophie Kerr
Della M. King
Grace Kingsley
Eleanor Kinkhead
Virginia Kirtley
Helen Klumph
Penelope Knapp
Mabel Knettles/Nettles
Vianna Knowlton
Clare Kummer
Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw
Barbara LaMarr
Genevieve Lamson
Thelma Lanier
Lita Lawrence
Erna Lazarus
Agnes Brand Leahy
Florence Lee
Nellie Lee
Olive H. Lee
Gladys Lehman
Lela Leibrand
Hope Leighton
Lyllian Brown Leighton
Bernadine Prissi Leist
Adeline Leitzbach/Leitz
Jane Lennox
Helen Lewis
Louise Lewis
Nina Lewton
Laura Jean Libbey
Sadie Lindblom
Francis Livingston
Milba K. Lloyd
Helen Logan
Jacqueline Logan
Elizabeth Lonergan
Louise Long
Elsa Carmen Lopez
Norma Lorimer
Bessie Love
Jessie Lowe
Louise Lowell
Grace Lynch
Francis Lynde
Grace Lytton
Hazel Christie MacDonald
Katherine MacDonald
Margaret I. MacDonald
Mary Lanier MacGruder
Florence Mack
Grace Mack
Marion Mack
Ruth MacTammany
Mrs. Ada Bell Maescher
Elizabeth Mahoney
Edna Maison
Tay Malarkey
Anna Maloney
Doris Malloy
Annie Marchant
Ethel Marion
Frances Marsh
Mildred Mason
Madeline Matzen
Anne Maxwell
Theresa “Miss Mack” McCaffrey
Mary C. McCall Jr.
Gertrude McCoy
May McLean
Margaret McWade
Mary Mears
Mary Rider Mechtold/Mary Mechtold Rider
Elizabeth Meehan
Miriam Meredith
Laurita Mershon
Grace Sanderson Michie
Alice D.G. Miller
Elizabeth Miller
Rose Mints
Rhea Mitchell
Ruth Comfort Mitchell
Ruth Mix
Margaret Prescott Montague
Bertha Moore
Helena Moore
Lola Moore
Leota Morgan
Marion Morgan
Harriet Morris
Ruth E. Morris
Florabel Muir
Rosalie Mulhall
Genevieve M. Murphy
Hazel Neason
Pola Negri
Faye Neill
Kora Newell
Anne Nicholas
Anne Nichols
Evelyn Nicholas
Frances Nordstrom
Kathleen Norris
Margaret Nott
Jane Novak
Myra Nye
Alice M. O’Brien
Peggy O’Day
Mary O’Hara
Agnes O’Malley
Ruth M. Oliver
Margery Ordway
Gertrude Orr
Marion Orth
Florence M. Osborne
Margaret Oswald
Seena Owen
Louise Panthier
Bert Parker
Claire Parker
Dorothy Parker
Rena Parker
Molly Parro
Virginia Pearson
Elizabeth Peltret
Cynthia Penn
Laura Perelman
Mrs. H. Peterson
Alexandra Phillips-Fahrney
Adele Pierce
Mme. Pilar-Morin
Jeanne Poe
Katherine Anne Porter
Beulah Poynter
Ann Price
Peggy Prior
Agnes Louise Provost
Beatrice Prucha
Gertrude Purcell
Julia M. Purdy
Nina Wilcox Putnam
Harriet Quimby (and Charlotte Thompson)
Josephine Quirk
Florence Radinoff
Leona Radnor
Marion Rae
Stella Razzetto
H. Jane Raum
Katherine Reed
Frances Irene Reels
Fritzi Remont
Isobel M. Reynolds
Nellie Revell
Caroline Rhea
Alice Hagan Rice
Anna Steese Richardson
Mrs. May B. Richardson
Edna G. Riley
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Kay Van Riper
Alla Ripley
Hallie Erminie Rives
Mrs. Winifred Von Rittsberg
Katherine Leiser Robbins
Marguerite Roberts
Elizabeth Robins
Rosemary Rode
Virginia E. Roe
Ruth Roland
Patricia Rooney
Inez Russel
Madeleine Ruthven
Mrs. James H. Ryan
Florence Ryerson
Madeleine Lucette Ryley
Amy N. Sacker (Amy E. Sacker?)
Sarah Saddoris
Alice Von Samai
Margaret Sanger
Lucy Saver
Laura Sawyer
Olga Linek Scholl
Mary Alice Scully
Doris Schroeder
Blanche Stuart Scott
Zelda Sears
Molly Elliot Seawall
Alyson Shaffer
Dr. Anna Howard Shaw
Lillian Nicholson Shearon
Viola Brothers Shore
Marie Shores
Esther Shulkin
Joy Sill
Christine Jope Slade
Tess Slesinger
Agnes Smith
Daisy Smith
Katherine Smith
Matilda Smith
Thelma Smith
Bella Spewack
Cecil Spooner
Lucita Squier
Lorena Stahley
Aubrey Stauffer
Minnie Steppler
Daisy R. Stone
Lillian Spellman Stone
Edith Storey
Marguerite C. Storrs
Lillian J. Sweetser
Florence Strauss
Margaret Strickland
Kathryne Stuart
Eve Stuyvesant
Adele V. Sullivan
Carmelita Sweeney
Mary Synon
Irene Tams
Eva Tanguay
Rose Elizabeth Tapley
Ida Tarbell
Belle Taylor
Mary Imlay Taylor
Sylvia Thalberg
Irene Thirer
Faith Thomas
Mollie Thompson
Maravene Thompson
Ruth Todd (Tood?)
Edyth Totten
Madame E. Touissant Welcome (Jennie Louise Van Der Zee)
Margaretta Tuttle
Gladys Unger
Janet Vale
Louise Vale
Lillian Valentine
Beatrice Van
Virginia Van Upp
Derek Vane (aka Mrs. Blanche Eaton)
Edith Vernick
Florence Vidor
Lucie K. Villa
Harriet Virginia
Lula Vollmer
Marie Van Vorst
Sophie Wachner
Gwen Wakeling
Irene Wallace
Grace Waller
Luci Ward
Marion Ward
Eda Warren
Mary Jane Warren
Ruth Waterbury
Maureen Watkins
Mrs. M. Webb
Ethel Webber
Dorothy Faith Webster
Emmy Wehlen
Rita Weiman
Helen Weiner
Alice C. Weitz
Carolyn Benbrooke Wells
Claudine West
Dorothy West
Margaret Whistler
Grace Miller White
Maude Reeves White
Meta White
Virginia Whitmore
Leotta Whytock
Ruth Wightman
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Anna Tupper Wilkes
Claire Wille
Alice Williams
Emma Rochelle Williams
Florine Williams
Alice Muriel Williamson
Verna Willis
Elaine Wilmont
Dixie Wilson
Mrs. Woodrow Wilson
Marie A. Wing
Louise Winters
Sally Winters (Sally McGowan)
Thyra Sampter Winslow
Ella Woods (Nancy Ellen Anderson Woods?)
Lotta Woods
Martha Woodrow
Frances M. Wright
Grace Yearsley
Alice M. Yolton
Rella Young
Rida Johnson Young
Lois Zellner

Unhistoricized Occupations List

The following list of unhistoricized occupations is a list of some of the jobs we have come across in our archival research that have yet to be represented by the Women Film Pioneers Project. Is by no means exhaustive, but represents some of the lesser known and generally unacknowledged occupations held by women in the silent era. These occupations come from the Metro Pictures Corporation weekly payroll between 1921- 1922.


Beauty Parlor Operator



Circus Performer



Dry Room Helper


Fitter (Assistant Fitter)


Hypo Man




Machine Operators




Negative Cutter (Head Negative Cutter)

Negative Wrapper

Payroll Clerk

Phone Operator

Positive Cutter


Printing Room Forewoman

Real Estate Owner

Reception Room Clerk

Religious Educator


Script Clerk



Stock Clerk


Supervisor (Assistant Supervisor)