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Posted September 28, 2017 | 11:27 AM

Four Women Who Made Local History

Paulina Pedroso, Luisa Capetillo, Babe Zaharias, and Mary Chapman shaped Florida's destiny

Four women with Hillsborough County connections are among more than 100 accomplished citizens profiled in "Florida Women's History Trail," a state-funded book published in 2001.

With March being National Women's History Month, attention turns to women pivotal in Florida's development from a rural outpost to the nation's third-most populous state. The book features a freedom fighter, an early advocate for women's and workers' rights, the nation's top female athlete of her era, and a renowned archivist. Each made their mark in Hillsborough County history.

Here they are:

  • Paulina Pedroso (1826-1930) Pedroso and her husband, Ruperto, managed a boarding house in Ybor City that frequently housed Cuban patriot Jose Marti. She worked to rally Afro-Cubans and women to gain the island nation's freedom from Spanish rule. Their home, now gone, stood at the current site of Jose Marti Park in Ybor City.
  • Luisa Capetillo (1879-1922) Capetillo was a labor organizer and worked for women's rights. In the early 20th century, local cigar workers selected her as a lector. In that esteemed role, she read to workers as they hand-rolled cigars in Tampa factories.
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) The gold-medal winning Olympian, professional golfer, and six-time Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year, spent the latter part of her life in Tampa. Zaharias' namesake public golf course in North Tampa is managed by Tampa Sports Authority.
  • Mary Louise Chapman (1916-1981) Chapman was the first director of Special Collections at the University of South Florida. An expert Florida historian, she lectured on state history and served on the Hillsborough County Historical Commission.

Florida is among many states that have or are creating women's heritage trails, which recognize accomplished women and note locations where they were influential. Florida's book was produced in cooperation with the nonprofit Florida Association of Museums.

Hillsborough County's Commission on the Status of Women has named 24 women to its Women's Hall of Fame. Class of 2017 inductees formally will join the Hall this month. View the Hall of Fame page for names, photographs, and brief profiles of the existing Hall of Fame members.

Photo Information: From left to right: Paulina Pedroso, Luisa Capetillo, Babe Zaharias, and Mary L. Chapman