40 Truly Inspirational Moms From Throughout History

Jackie Kennedy, Cleopatra, Marie Curie, Princess Diana... the human race owes so much to incredible mothers that it would be tricky to praise them too highly. But we’re going to give it a shot! Yes, we’ve rounded up the most inspirational and extraordinary maternal figures from all of history. And in our unashamed celebration of these remarkable moms, we’ll discover their massive contributions and sacrifices that changed our world for the better.

40. Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley is best remembered for her signature 1818 work Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus. She was unlucky in pregnancy, though. From five births – with the first coming not long after she’d eloped at the age of 16 – only one child survived infancy. He was Percy Florence Shelley and ended up being the last child that Mary gave birth to. The author Suzanne Burdon has written that, “[Shelley’s] letters and journals show her deep love for her children and her overwhelming sorrow when tragedy took them from her.”

39. Jackie Kennedy

Although America does without royalty, it could be said that Jackie Kennedy was the nearest thing the nation has ever had to a queen. Of course, as well as being President John F. Kennedy’s First Lady, she was also a mom. Motherhood was not easy for her, though. One child was stillborn and another died two days after birth. Yet she still had the energy to give her best to the two surviving kids: Caroline and John F. Jr. It’s also been said that her children helped Jackie survive the deep trauma of her husband’s assassination.

38. Emmeline Pankhurst

British women have a lot to thank Emmeline Pankhurst for. After all, she was one of the leaders of the ultimately successful campaign to give females the right to vote. But even though much of her time was spent on pursuing this just cause, she was also a mother. The activist had three girls and two boys, though one of the latter sadly died young. Pankhurst also inspired the three daughters with her belief in women’s rights, as they all were heavily involved in the suffragette cause, too.

37. Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad that spirited the enslaved from the South to the North and later became a central figure in the system’s operation. With her husband Nelson Davis – also a former slave – she adopted a girl in 1874. She was called Gertie and because Davis suffered badly from tuberculosis, Tubman was left to support the family singlehandedly. That’s a major challenge that many a mother can relate to.