Names of the Week
Fact of the Week

Names With A Pioneering Heart

Throughout history, pioneers have not only settled new lands but have helped the world to progress with everything from technological advancements to social tolerance.

Here are some of those settlers and visionaries and their "names with the heart of a pioneer".  

Jack "Jackie" Robinson (1919-1972) was the first African American to play Major League Baseball in modern times.

Besides the legacy of a great career including numerous awards and a World Series championship, Robinson was a pioneer in sports.

Known for "breaking" the color barrier, Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, ending racial segregation in the Major Leagues.

He challenged segregation and some basic beliefs at the time with both great character and talent, contributing to the Civil Rights Movement and a more accepting culture.

In addition to his athletic success, Robinson was also the first African American vice president of a major American corporation.  

Johann Gutenberg (1397-1468) was a pioneer in "modern" communication. Today we have the internet, social media, twitter and facebook, but the first true "leap" in modern communication was the invention of the printing press.

Gutenberg was a German printer who is credited with the invention of printing with movable type, forever changing how the world printed books and pamphlets and disseminated information.

A number of surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed using the press, are located in the United States.


A pioneer in Physics, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), escaped Nazi persecution by accepting an invitation to teach at Princeton University in November 1933.

Known for his theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics, and work with nuclear fission, Einstein is one of the most famous scientists, able to transcend the world of intellectuals to the world of pop culture.

His mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 is often considered "the world's most famous equation."

In 1939, after learning of the Nazi's hope to develop a bomb, Einstein urged President Roosevelt to back atomic bomb research.

Known as the Manhattan Project, a bomb was developed and dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski Japan on August 6, 1945. Although a devastating moment for humanity, this action did get the unrelenting Japanese Emperor to surrender, bringing WWII to an end, and saving the lives of countless American and allied soldiers.  

Daniel Boone (1734-1820) was an American pioneer, most known for his exploration of what is now Kentucky (then, western Virginia).

Boone blazed a trail the Wilderness Road from North Carolina and Tennesee into Kentucky where he founded Boonesbourough and provided a path for tens of thousands of pioneers to migrate to Kentucky.

A trapper, explorer, frontiersman and Revolutionary War officer, Boone's many exploits both real and legendary made him a folk hero in his lifetime and to this day.  

Marie Curie (1867-1934) was also a pioneer in Physics through her work and research in the area of radioactivity.

Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (1903 for Physics) and the first person to win twice in multiple sciences (1911 for Chemistry).

In addition to her work in radioactivity, Curie is credited with the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium.

During WWI, Curie developed mobile radiography (X-ray) units, in order to assist surgeons helping soldiers near the front lines.


A pioneer in the American Civil Rights movement, Rosa McCauley Parks (1913-2005) has been dubbed "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of freedom movement".

Known for refusing to give up her seat and move further back on a bus in the segregated Montgomery, Alabama of 1955, Parks helped to further the cause of African Americans for equal rights and protection under the law.

Although not the first person to have been arrested for refusing to give up their seat, her case was seized upon by the growing Civil Rights movement because they thought her case had the best chance of surviving a court challenge.

Her defiance helped to initiate the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and eventually overturn segregation in the south.  

Amalie "Emmy" Noether (1882-1935) was a pioneer in Mathematics.

Although female Mathematicians were few in number, Noether made a great impact by deriving an algebraic theorem that connected two fundamental laws of physics. Noether's Theory is in fact seen by some to be as influential as Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

Like Einstein, Noether escaped Nazi persecution in Germany, by accepting a teaching position in the United States.

Her unique view on the topics she studied and her ability to inspire a future generation of mathematicians helped Noether to leave a mark on her field of choice.  

A pioneer in the traditional sense, Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) was an American author who recounted her pioneering childhood in a series of books.

Her Little House on the Prairie series of childrens books has forever captured what life was like for pioneer families.

Born in a log cabin in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin, Laura and her family moved around to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and finally settling on a homestead in South Dakota.

The television series Little House on the Prairie (1974-1982), which was based on the books, brought that engaging period to life.