In the late 1800s women in America achieved a lot of firsts in business and public life. This was the era when reform were taking place at a very rapid pace. Females were no longer the "mill girl" who would work long hours, but were now getting education and degrees.
Business: Lydia Estes Pinkham of Lynn, MA started a herbal remedy business in 1875 and Pinkham's Vegetable Compound became one of the more commonly used patent medicines of that era. During this time, women also started getting degrees in dentistry, law, and architecture and were becoming lawyers, post masters, police officers, etc.
Public life: Th contribution of women to public life in the late 1800s was more profound than their role in business. Women were already transcending the gender-bias and were fighting for equal rights in terms of voting, property and child custody. The women's suffrage movement was the highlight of the era, with pro-women organizations fighting for their rights. Some notable public figures include Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony. Many states allowed voting rights to women and Victoria Woodhull became the first female to run for the Presidency in 1872. Women of color were also struggling to achieve equal rights for themselves.