Ana María O’Neill (March 7, 1894 – May 24, 1981) was an educator, author and advocate of women’s rights. O’Neill was born in the town of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the descendant of Irish settlers. She enrolled and graduated from the Normal School of the University of Puerto Rico, where she earned her teacher’s certificate in 1915. She taught in Puerto Rico until she decided to go to New York to continue her education; there she attended Columbia University, and in 1927 earned a master’s degree in education.
O’Neill returned to Puerto Rico, and in 1929 became the first female professor in the field of commerce at the University of Puerto Rico, a discipline which she taught until 1951. As a women’s rights activist, she urged women to participate in every aspect of civic life and to defend their right to vote. O’Neill enrolled in the Rochdale Institute of the National School of Cooperativism, earning a diploma as a Cooperative leader. She fought for the Cooperative movement in Puerto Rico and was instrumental in the passing of the legislation entitled “The General Law of Cooperative Societies” in 1946. O’Neill was also the founder of the Cooperative Institute of the University of Puerto Rico.
In 1948, she authored the book Ética Para la Era Atómica, recognized with a literary award from Northwestern University. In 1966, O’Neill was honored by the Union of American Women who named her the 1966 “Woman of Puerto Rico.” That same year she was recognized by the Cooperative establishment of the island and was named “Woman of the Americas.” O’Neill was also the author of Psicología de la Comunicación, published in 1986, five years after her death.
We salute you, Ana María O’Neill, on #WomensHistoryMonth!
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