Author: Caryn E. Neumann

an assistant professor of history at Miami University of Ohio. A specialist in U.S. history and women's history, she earned her PhD from The Ohio State University

Leslie Byrne (1946– )

Leslie Byrne was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Virginia, serving as a Democrat for one term, from January 3, 1993, until January 3, 1995. Byrne emerged as a skilled fund-raiser and hard-nosed campaigner, but her tenure in Congress was marked by Democratic defeats over health care issues and her own sometimes difficult relationships with fellow representatives. In addition to her term in Congress, Byrne served in the House of Delegates (1986–1992) and the Senate of Virginia (2000–2003). She also served as the White House Director of Consumer Affairs under U.S. president Bill Clinton.


Richard E. Byrd (1888–1957)

Richard E. Byrd was a naval aviator and explorer of both the Arctic and Antarctica who became famous in 1926 as the first man credited with flying to the North Pole. During World War I (1914–1918), he conducted antisubmarine patrols in the North Atlantic and became a pioneer in navigating long distances, both on water and in the air. Byrd’s desire to test navigational equipment in extreme climates took him to Greenland in 1925, and from there he pushed north using a sun compass and shortwave aerial radio transmissions. His roundtrip, aerial expedition to the North Pole, funded by wealthy American industrialists, was completed in about sixteen hours on May 9, 1926, and earned Byrd international fame. His pioneering feat has long been questioned, at times persuasively, by skeptical scientists who claimed that he could not have made the trip in such a short amount of time. Later in his career, Byrd established the United States presence in Antarctica and flew to the South Pole.