Famous Woman Explorer: Delia Akeley 1875 - 1970
Discusses the first woman explorer to cross Africa
Delia Akeley was an American who made several trips to Africa. She was one of the first Westerners to study the Pygmy tribes of Zaire. She was the First woman to cross Africa.
Delia Akeley, a daughter of Irish immigrants was born in 1875 on a farm in Wisconsin. At fourteen she married a Milwaukee barber. They were divorced and at age 27 she married Carl Akeley a taxidermist who worked with the Milwaukee Public Museum create wild life exhibits.
He took Delia on a trip to Africa in 1905 to help him find specimens for the museum of Natural History in Chicago. Delia served in Europe during world War I by working in canteens for American soldiers. After her return she and Carl divorced. Soon after the divorce she left for Africa to collect specimens for the Brooklyn Museum. During her travels she met the pygmies and visited their lands in the tropical forests. The existence of pygmies had only been confirmed 50 years previously. Previously they had been considered a myth. She spent several months with the pygmies and returned to America where she wrote and lectured about her experiences in Africa. She died in Florida at the age of 95