Women are awesome all year. But because it’s March, and that means Women’s History Month, let’s take an extra moment to celebrate the badass women who have helped make the Cincy Region the incredible place that it is. From historical trailblazers to modern-day mavens, our area wouldn’t be what it is without the hard work and artistic prowess of these laudable ladies. As we celebrate their contributions, we’ll also take a look at the exciting Women’s History Month events happening in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this year. Grab a calendar and get ready to join in honoring the legacy and accomplishments of women throughout history.

Historic women of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky 

It’s impossible to look around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and not see layers of history. Our architecture alone is a dead giveaway that the area is and always has been teeming with movers and shakers. The legacies of remarkable women like Sarah Mayrant Fossett and Harriet Beecher Stowe shine especially bright.

Sarah Mayrant Fossett was a Black hairdresser for white women in the 1840s, and she was known as one of the best. She and her husband worked closely with Levi Coffin on the Underground Railroad, helping countless enslaved people escape to freedom. In 1859, she was forcibly removed from a streetcar despite having paid for her ticket. The case went to court and was eventually the reason for the desegregation of Cincinnati’s streetcar.

An antique photograph shows a women looking sternly at the camera. 

Sarah Mayrant Fossett portrait from Wendell Dabney’s book Cincinnati’s Colored Citizens


Harriet Beecher Stowe was also active in Cincinnati during the 1850s. Best known for writing the groundbreaking novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe used her powerful words to advocate for the abolition of slavery and ignite public consciousness on the issue. More stories about the Underground Railroad, abolition, and desegregation can be found at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on the Banks in Cincinnati. On March 6, they will be celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman, another prominent female abolitionist and social activist who helped free enslaved people along the Underground Railroad. 

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (photo: Farshid Assassi)

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman on March 6, 2024.


The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center will also be recognizing Women’s History Month at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Join them on March 10 for a very special guided tour focused on women’s experiences during the Holocaust. 

Cincinnati women in business

Most people are probably familiar with Cincinnati’s impact on the business world. We’re home to six Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble, the Kroger Company, and Fifth Third Bank, to name a few. But did you know that our area was also home to some of the largest women-owned and operated companies of their time? 

For starters, Cora Dow’s drugstore chain, Dow’s Drugs, was once the second-largest pharmacy in the nation. The daughter of a medicine salesman, Dow was the second woman to ever graduate from the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy. She took over her father’s pharmacy in 1885 after he fell ill and very quickly grew the family business into an empire with eleven locations across Cincinnati—more than Walgreens at the time. Dow changed the way pharmacies operated forever, focusing more on women’s health and desires than anyone had yet. She staffed her stores with men and women equally to ensure that everyone had someone to talk to about their healthcare concerns—a real win for everyone. Dow paved the way for tons of women not only in business, but also in healthcare.


An antique photo of a woman in profile. She's looking to the right with a slight smile.

Dow paved the way for tons of women not only in business, but also in healthcare. Image from the Library of Congress Bain Collection


On March 4, 2024, you can celebrate women in science and technology with the 2nd Annual Women in STEM Honors Luncheon at Graduate Cincinnati. The Women in STEM Luncheon was created to recognize the contributions of outstanding women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from the Greater Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky region. All proceeds from the event are used to create college scholarships for gifted high school students. 

Maria Longworth Storer is another historic businesswoman from Cincinnati. She founded the famous Rookwook Pottery company which made history as “the first large manufacturing enterprise founded and owned by a woman in the United States.” More than 140 years later, Rookwood Pottery is still headquartered in the heart of Cincinnati. Anyone wishing to see the process behind how Rookwood’s famous ceramics are made today can schedule a guided tour of the 88,000 square foot facility in Over-the-Rhine (OTR). 

A woman faces the camera, she rests her arm on a mannequin and there are racks of clothing for sale behind her.

Tessa Clark, store manager at Idlewild Woman in OTR.


Handzy Shop + Studio

Handzy Shop + Studio is an adorable boutique located in the heart of Covington’s Mainstrasse Village.


Additionally, you can celebrate Women’s History Month by supporting any of the numerous women-owned businesses across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. For aesthetic wares and homegoods, try Grainwell in Covington, KY, Lucca or Artichoke in Findlay Market, or Coda Co. in Bellevue. If it’s cozy clothing you seek, opt for Idlewild Woman in OTR, Handzy Shop + Studio in Mainstrasse, Peachy and Vintage in Covington, or Casablanca Vintage in Northside! 

Interested in connecting with women founders in the area? Join the StartupCincy Women’s Supper Club on Wednesday, March 20. The 4-part series features “gatherings at top women-owned restaurants, guided workshops, meaningful discussions, and of course, delicious food and networking.” The first installment features leadership coach Tian Philson, who will be teaching a confidence course in self-discovery, empowerment, and fueling your entrepreneurial vision. 

Cincinnati women in music and entertainment

Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have also been home to tons of incredible women from the music, arts, and entertainment industry. Throughout history, we’ve seen jazz legends, vaudevillian comics, and the silver screen sweethearts. These talented women danced, sang, and acted their way from the Midwest to major cities around the world. 

Mamie Smith was born in Cincinnati in 1891. By 1920, she was the first Black woman to make a vocal blues recording. The response to her song “Crazy Blues” proved that women and girls—and especially Black listeners—had buying power in the music world. The reaction to Smith’s song was revolutionary. An estimated 75,000 copies of “Crazy Blues” were purchased upon its release, and Mamie went on to perform sold out shows across the nation. Her hard work helped open doors for other Black recording artists and paved the way for the continued growth of blues, jazz, and pop music. 

A woman faces the camera with a bright smile. She's wearing a light colored top with a fur collar.

Mamie Smith, made history as the first Black woman to make a vocal blues recording. Image from Cincinnati Sites & Stories


As Mamie’s success reverberated across the nation, Cincinnati’s musical landscape continued to evolve. The city became a hub for jazz and blues, nurturing a vibrant community of talented musicians and performers. In the heart of it stands Schwartz’s Point Jazz & Acoustic Club, a beacon of musical excellence located in OTR. Owned and operated by Zarleen Watts, daughter of the premier pianist Ed Moss, Schwartz’s Point carries on a rich tradition of showcasing local and regional jazz and blues acts. Through Zarleen’s stewardship and hard work, Schwartz’s Point continues to honor its legacy while fostering Cincinnati’s dynamic music community. 

Our region’s rich musical heritage extends beyond jazz and blues, encompassing a diverse array of genres and talents. Iconic figures such as Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney emerged from the hills of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, leaving an undeniable mark on both the music and film industries. Their pop sensibilities and extraordinary careers paved the way for new generations of artists, including those who now grace the stage at local venues like the woman-owned Southgate House Revival nestled in the heart of Newport, KY. 

Owned by Morella Raleigh and her family, Southgate House Revival stands as a testament to our region’s enduring musical legacy. The venue serves as a dynamic hub of live music, showcasing a diverse lineup of local and touring acts across various genres. Among the talent that graces SGHR’s stage, you will find local female musicians and bands like Knotts, Bershy, Leggy, and Mol Sullivan, whose diverse sounds and impassioned performances keep Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky on the musical map. 

Southgate House Revival is celebrating Women’s History Month this year with the Women’s Groovement Friday Eve FunRaising event featuring Maylou Banatwala. On March 14, join some of the best female musicians of the region in SGHR’s cozy lounge and bar area. The event is free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a donation of new socks to benefit the Ion Center for Violence Prevention. A silent auction will also occur featuring items from local businesses. 

A femme person wearing a red jacket with nothing under, on a red background, with red eyeshadow looks at the camera. They are holding a bouquet of flowers.

Historical Cincinnati women have paved the way for local femme artists like Bershy (pictured), Knotts, Mol Sullivan, and more. Image from Cincymusic.com 


The music doesn’t stop there. Cincinnati is full of experiences led specifically by female artists this March. Mark your calendar for the March 2 A Celebration of Women in Music event at ARCO in East Price Hill. The concert will feature a cash bar, cocktail hour, dinner, and a silent auction in benefit of Women Helping Women. Later in the month, catch the Celebrate Her: Flight88’s Women’s History Month Concert on Saturday, March 23 at Urban Artifact in Northside. The event will feature “distinguished artists from the Cincinnati area and history’s fiercest female composers” and proceeds will go toward the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. Spoken word artists, vocal ensembles, and classical pianists will join together to deliver a message about the importance of holding space for women.

Hope you have enjoyed learning about these trailblazing women. Have fun exploring these locals and events all month long!