These People Changed The World, But No One Knows Their Name

Imagine doing something so important that you change the course of history– but no one remembers your name! While some important individuals make the history books, there are many more who are often forgotten. From famous inventors, social leaders, and artists, these incredible people had amazing accomplishments and deserve more recognition.

Margaret Howe Lovatt Experimented With Dolphins

Margaret Howe Lovatt swimming with a dolphin
Strange World Stranger People/Reddit
Strange World Stranger People/Reddit

Those who aren’t familiar with Margaret Howe Lovatt should know that her life revolved around dolphins. During the 1960s, she set out to prove that dolphins could be taught English.

She ended up living in close quarters with them for a couple of months to try and teach them to understand and mimic human speech.

Marvin Miller Made Sports History

GettyImages-118618510
Anthony Barboza/Getty Images
Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Baseball fans may have heard of Marvin Miller. He was the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982 and established the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports.

This led to free agency and players having more say in their contracts. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019, which was seven years after he left the world.

Texas Jack Omohundro Was A Wild West Pioneer

Texas Jack Omohundro in a cowboy outfit
Gurney & Son./Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Gurney & Son./Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Fans of the Wild West may know about Texas Jack Omohundro. He was a real-life cowboy, hunter, actor, Confederate courier, and frontier scout who would occasionally perform with Buffalo Bill Cody.

Texas Jack Omohundro was the very first person to do a lasso act and use a live horse on stage.

Alexandra David-Néel Went Against Social Norms

Alexandra David-Néel reading at a desk
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Alexandra David-Néel was a Buddhist, spiritualist, and anarchist who spent her 100 years of life traveling, writing, and singing opera. By the time she was 16, she ran away to Europe to have her own adventures.

She didn’t follow social norms such as settling down and getting married. Her writing inspired famous writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

Annie Edson Taylor Had A Barrel Of Fun

Annie Edson Taylor posing with her barrel
Francis J. Petrie Photograph Collection/Wikimedia Commons
Francis J. Petrie Photograph Collection/Wikimedia Commons

A schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor decided she was going to spend her 63rd birthday doing something special. She became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

She had fallen on hard times and thought this barrel trip would fund her with some money.

Dr. Percy Julian Proved Others Wrong

Percy Julian receives Decalogue Society Award
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Dr. Percy Julian was discouraged to study chemistry, but he was able to prove his disbelievers wrong. He earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of Vienna in Austria.

Dr. Julian was an influential chemist because he laid the foundation for birth control pills and cortisone.

John Brown’s Actions Were The Final Straw For The Civil War

Illustration of abolitionist John Brown with Union officials during the Civil war
Kean Collection/Getty Images
Kean Collection/Getty Images

When people learn about the Civil War, John Brown is often left out of the conversation. He was an American abolitionist leader who fought in Bleeding Kansas.

Brown was eventually captured and his life was taken because he was trying to incite a slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry. This was the final act that moved the nation into the war.

Fatima Al-Fihri Created The First College

fatima al-fihri sepia illustration
British Embassy Tunis/Facebook
British Embassy Tunis/Facebook

Fatima al-Fihri was an Arab woman born in 800 AD who founded the al-Qarawiyyin mosque in Fez, Morocco. This was considered to be the world’s first university.

She was able to do this after her father’s passing because she inherited a large sum of money. The university is still running today.

Hedy Lamarr Wasn’t Just An Actress

Hedy Lamarr wearing a red and white polka dot shirt
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hedy Lamarr was born in Austria and came over to the United States to be a Hollywood actress. She starred in movies such as Algiers, Lady of the Tropics, Samson and Delilah, and more.

Some may not know that during World War II she developed a radio guidance system that became the basis for Bluetooth and GPS technology.

Helen Sharman Flew Past The Stars

GettyImages-848501862
Fiona Hanson/PA Images via Getty Images
Fiona Hanson/PA Images via Getty Images

Helen Sharman began her career working as a research chemist, but everything changed when she heard a radio ad. The ad was looking for astronauts and Sharman quickly responded.

She was selected out of a pool of over 13,000 candidates and became Great Britain’s first astronaut. Sharman also became the first woman to visit the Mir space station.

Preston Tucker Changed The Game For Cars

Preston Tucker waving from a car
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

One of the most influential people in the automotive industry was Preston Tucker. He was the first person to manufacture automobiles with disc brakes, shatterproof glass, collapsible steering wheels, padded dashboards, and more.

His most famous car was the Tucker 48 sedan, which was nicknamed the “Tucker Torpedo.” A movie was made based on his life called Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

King C. Gillette Had A Razor Sharp Idea

King C. Gillette portrait from the 1930s
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

If his name already didn’t give it away, King C. Gillette was an inventor who was the first to manufacture razors with disposable blades.

Before this, razors had to be sharpened, so this way an old razor can be thrown out and be replaced. In 1904, his company produced 90,000 razors and 12,400,000 blades.

Sybil Ludington Also Knew The British Were Coming

sybil ludington statue of a girl on a horse
Anthony22/Wikimedia Commons
Anthony22/Wikimedia Commons

Most people probably have Paul Revere come to mind when they think of the American Revolutionary War. Revere isn’t the only one who delivered the “British are coming” message on horseback.

Sybil Ludington, a 16-year-old daughter of a colonel, made an all-night horseback ride to alert militia forces in upstate New York about the burning of Danbury, Connecticut by British forces.

Henrietta Lacks’ Cells Saved Lives

Henrietta Lacks photo in a frame
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Henrietta Lacks was born in Roanoke, Virginia and worked as a farmer. In 1951, she was sent to John Hopkins Hospital to try and treat her cervical cancer.

While she wasn’t able to beat the illness, her cancer cells became the source of the HeLa cell line. These cells were immortal and became the basis for the polio vaccine and several other medical patents.

John Landis Mason Helped Food Stay Fresh Longer

John Landis Mason with his mason jars
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

His name might give it away, but John Landis Mason was the inventor of Mason jars. He made them as a way to seal food, so it would last longer.

Before his invention in 1858, people would have to use wax to create an airtight seal. People across the United States, especially in rural areas, began canning to save money and preserve food.

Alice Guy-Blaché Had Many Firsts In Film

Alice Guy-Blaché poses for a portrait in circa 1913 in New York
Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

The film industry wouldn’t be the same without the pioneering work of Alice Guy-Blaché. She was the world’s first female filmmaker and the first director to film a narrative story.

Her first film came out in 1896 and she was the only female filmmaker for the next decade. Over the course of her life, she directed over one thousand films.

Muhammed Ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi Introduced A Numbering System

GettyImages-1265721557
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician from the Islamic Golden Age who is often left out of mathematics teachings.

He is responsible for introducing the modern numbering system to the West, which is why the numeric system is called “Arabic Numbers.” He and other early Middle Eastern mathematicians have advanced the world in many areas of science.

Mary Anning Became An Early Paleontologist

ammonite_XWKbZ4
BBC Films/Ammonite
BBC Films/Ammonite

While Mary Anning wasn’t able to attend school, she spent her time exploring the Dorset coast. As she got older, she realized that her findings were actually fossils.

Anning became one of the first female paleontologists in the world. Scientists were inspired by her work to look for changes within the natural world.

Elizabeth Jennings Graham Fought For Racial Equality

Elizabeth Jennings Graham
Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons
Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons

While Rosa Parks is an important figure from the Civil Rights Movement, there were others who came before her. In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings Graham was adamant that she would ride in a New York City streetcar.

She was removed by a policeman and conductor, but her actions led to the desegregation of the New York public transit system.

Violet Jessop Survived Several Ship Disasters

Violet Jessop wearing a nurse's outfit
HefePine23/Wikimedia Commons
HefePine23/Wikimedia Commons

Violet Jessop went through a lot as an ocean liner nurse. She was aboard the RMS Titanic when it sank and survived.

She also survived the sinking of its sister ship the HMHS Britannic and the RMS Olympic. Jessop was given the nicknames “Queen of sinking ships” and “Miss Unsinkable.”