Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Amelia Earhart

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Unknown artist. Aviator Amelia Earhart in Flight Gear. Aviator Amelia Earhart poses in her flight suit in November, 1928, a few months after her solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. © CORBIS

Amelia Earhart
b. 1897, Atchison, Kansas; d. 1937, South Pacific

Aviator and women's rights activist Amelia Earhart remains an iconic figure seventy years after her death. She had learned to fly in 1920, buying her first plane in 1922. She was a social worker at a Boston settlement house when a group of aviation enthusiasts—including future husband George Palmer Putnam—invited her to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, not as a pilot but as a passenger. She accepted the invitation and became an overnight sensation. Determined to earn the fame, in 1932 she made a solo crossing, from Newfoundland to Ireland, and in record time. There would be many other record-breaking flights. To support her flying, she published accounts of her adventures, endorsed products, wrote a monthly column as aviation editor for Cosmopolitan magazine, and maintained a rigorous schedule of lecturing around the country, driving (usually alone) from town to town delivering talks at women's clubs. In 1937, during her missions to fly around the world at the equator, Earhart and her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific.

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