Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways. Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women. There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them. Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include? I welcome your suggestions. Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women? Let me hear from you.
When my daughter was in grade school one year she had to prepare a presentation on a great explorer. Most of the well-known and famous ones had already been picked by other students. She was permitted to choose from the remainder of the list or find one not on the list but get it approved. When she came home with the list, I noticed that there weren’t any woman on the list. I just knew there had to be a great woman explorer so my daughter and I turned to the internet. We found a wonderful one and because of this school project, she became know to me. Meet Harriet Chalmers Adams.
I’ve wondered why men have so absolutely monopolized the field of exploration. Why did women never go to the Arctic, try for one pole or the other, or invade Africa, Tibet, or unknown wildernesses? I’ve never found my sex a hinderment; never faced a difficulty which a woman, as well as a man, could not surmount; never felt a fear of danger; never lacked courage to protect myself. I’ve been in tight places and have seen harrowing things.
Born in Stockton, California to Alexander Chalmers and Frances Wilkens, she was educated by private tutors. On October 5, 1899 she married Franklin Pierce Adams. In 1904, Adams went on her first major expedition, a three-year trip around South America with her husband, during which they visited every country, and traversed the Andes on horseback.
In a later trip she retraced the trail of Christopher Columbus’s early discoveries in the Americas, and crossed Haiti on horseback.
Adams served as a correspondent for Harper’s Magazine in Europe during World War I. She was the only female journalist permitted to visit the trenches. Later, she and her husband visited eastern Bolivia during a second extended trip to South America.
From 1907 to 1935, she wrote twenty-one articles for the National Geographic Society that featured her photographs, including “Some Wonderful Sights in the Andean Highlands” (September 1908), “Kaleidoscopic La Paz: City of the Clouds” (February 1909) and “River-Encircled Paraguay” (April 1933). She wrote on Trinidad, Surinam, Bolivia, Peru and the trans-Andean railroad between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso.
In 1925, Adams helped launch the Society of Woman Geographers. In all, Adams is said to have travelled more than a hundred thousand miles, and captivated hundreds of audiences. The New York Times wrote “Harriet Chalmers Adams is America’s greatest woman explorer. As a lecturer no one, man or woman, has a more magnetic hold over an audience than she.”
She died in Nice, France, on July 17, 1937, at age 61. She is interred at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California.