|Olive Oatman, 1858|
According to various sources, the first ever tattooed woman was Olive Oatman, a white Native American captive with a chin tattoo.
She was captured and enslaved by the Tolkepayas, after the massacre of her family in 1851, in today's Arizona, when she was fourteen. Her seven-year-old sister Mary Ann was also captured.
Later, Olive was sold to the Mohave people who in keeping with their tribal customs gave her a chin tattoo. She was ransomed back to the whites in 1856.
Olive became a celebrity in her day, embarking on a lecture tour promoting a book that Rev. Royal B. Stratton wrote about her ordeal, The Captivity of the Oatman Girls.
Margot Mifflin has written a book based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatman’s friends and relatives. The Blue Tattoo is the first book to examine her life from her childhood in Illinois, through the massacre, her captivity, and her return to white society, to her later years as a wealthy banker’s wife in Texas. This Bison Books edition features a postscript by the author with a newly discovered letter from Oatman.
|Maud Wagner , 1911|
Maud Wagner was another famous tattooed woman and also the first known woman tattoo artist in the United States. She was born Maud Stevens in February 1877 in Lyons County, Kansas, and was married to Gus Wagner who gave her her first tattoo when she met him in 1904 at the St Louis World's Fair. In 1907, Maud Wagner traded a date with her husband-to-be for tattoo lessons and that's how it all started.
|1920s: Famous tattooist Charlie Wagner|
Another 1920s image from new book Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo