Lesson Summary

Tenacity is the quality or fact of being very determined. Being tenacious can be hard sometimes. However, it is an important lesson to learn early on in life. This lesson gives a real-life example of a woman who decided to chase her desires by being tenacious. It helps girls understand the importance of tenacity and how to incorporate the character trait into their lives and relationships.

Section One

Preparatory Reading


My father was the first person to introduce Kate Warne to me. He simply told me she was the first woman detective. That was all it took. I needed to find out what type of woman was tenacious enough to step into a role that defied all societal norms. Who would be tenacious enough to command respect, give directions and lead men in a time when women were considered second-class citizens? In an era when women couldn't vote, own property or attend most universities and were told how to dress and whom they would marry, Kate Warne was a woman who would rise above. She stood against the grain in such a brilliant manner that she saved a president and changed minds about women's roles during the 1800s.

Kate saw an ad in the newspaper for a job as a detective. She went to the office and told Mr. Pinkerton, the head of the detective agency, that she wanted that job. He told her she could work in his agency as a secretary, but not as a detective. Instead of accepting the secretarial position or leaving in defeat, Kate found her grit, stood her ground and made a case that she should indeed become the first woman detective.

She got the job.

Kate did not take “no” for an answer. In fact, I think every time she got a “no,” she smiled at the opportunity to turn it into a “yes.” This is why I love Kate. I like to think that Kate was the type of woman who welcomed that negative answer because she liked a good challenge.

But this isn’t the only reason to love Detective Warne. Kate also comes across as a versatile woman—so comfortable with who she was that she could dress as a Southern belle to spy on the Confederacy or as a poor immigrant in efforts to save a president-elect’s life. By all accounts, she was also very independent, as she seemed comfortable traveling to different parts of the country and deciding on her own how best to spy on others for the information she sought. She didn’t seem to require much training to become a detective, yet before long was training others to do the job. For a girl to be comfortable and independent in her own skin is glorious. When girls can be comfortable and independent, they pursue social lives and set harder goals for themselves. They willingly get out of their comfort zones and try new things.

Kate was precise in what she wanted and determined to pursue it. While not much is written about her outside of her time as a detective, the information available is enough to use her legacy to show girls that life is full of “nos” and limitations—but they do not have to accept these or retreat in defeat. There is great adventure in learning to be comfortable with oneself and in achieving such independence that one anticipates the challenge of chasing that “no” into a “yes.”


Few facts are known about Kate Warne’s life before she went to work for Allan Pinkerton. Still, those few years that historians were able to track her work are filled with enough adventure to fill several timelines! Following is a short summary of her sleuthing.

Kate was born in Erin, New York.

Kate started working at the Pinkerton Detective Agency as the first woman investigator.

Kate helped to solve the Adams Express Company embezzlement case, resulting in more than $39,000 being returned to the company.

Though details on her rise at Pinkerton’s agency were not well-documented, it appears she was appointed Supervisor of Female Detectives some four years after her arrival at the agency. Shortly after, Pinkerton began hiring more women investigators.

Pinkerton heard rumors of a secessionist group’s plot to assassinate then-President-Elect Lincoln in Maryland. Upon investigation, Kate learned an assassination attempt would be made on Lincoln while he was changing trains in Baltimore on his way to Washington, D.C., to take the oath of office.

February 1861
The assassination plot was foiled, and Kate and Pinkerton safely got President-Elect Lincoln to Washington, D.C.

Over the course of the Civil War, Kate continued to spy on the Confederacy to provide military intelligence for the Union Army.

After completing her spy duties during the Civil War, Kate continued her
detective work, solving several high-profile cases.

Kate died of pneumonia at age 35, with Pinkerton at her bedside. He arranged for her to be buried in his family’s private cemetery plot to honor her work and dedication to the job.

Kate’s tenacity led to Pinkerton changing his views about what women could and could not do—and he ended up hiring more women to work as detectives, even though the police force would not follow suit until 1903. By refusing to take “no” as a viable answer to her question that fateful day in 1856, Kate unwittingly propelled the women’s movement forward and changed the course of history.


Tenacity pairs so well with grit, especially when one is chasing a “no” with the intent to turn it into a “yes.”

Today’s girls looking for their “yeses” should know that grit is the foundation for tenacity. Girls should not fear the word “no,” and they should consider tenacity a valuable ally in their efforts to conquer the “nos” of the world.

Life is full of “nos,” and some are beneficial in keeping people safe: no driving while using your cell phone, no underage drinking, no breaking curfew, no running in the halls. But, when a negative reply is coughed up for no good reason, girls must be tenacious, holding on to what they know to be true and working to change that “no” to a “yes.”

Think about the tenacious women in history who turned “nos” into “yeses.” For one, there’s Susan B. Anthony and her tireless efforts in the women’s suffrage movement. Gloria Steinem became a spokeswoman for the women’s movement and pushed to bring more women into the workplace. Marie Curie was not allowed to attend college in her native Poland, but she attended secret “floating universities” there before eventually completing her education in France—and she received a Nobel Prize not once, but twice. These all are instances where “nos” and criticism were handed out readily, but these women didn’t hide from it. Instead, they recognized that the “no” wasn’t about them; it was about the person giving the negative response. Tenacity helps girls realize that a “no” isn’t an insult to their character, but an opportunity to broaden somebody's perspective.

A “no” can be a girl’s greatest ally. It can keep her safe, give her space, offer relief from stress or expectations and it also can also provide her with an opportunity to believe so strongly in herself that she becomes tenacious in her approach to defeating it. It’s at those times when a “no” absolutely needs to be turned into a “yes” that tenacity steps in with all its grit.

Tenacity opens the door for girls to understand that there is always a way to pursue a goal, always something to dream about and always a “yes” to be found to the question whose time has come.


Below are descriptions of each item we offer as part of the Tenacity Theme. Depending on your purchase, some of these may not be applicable.

Illustrated Portrait
Our portrait gives life to each of our sets. Kate's illustration depicts a woman with an active mind and a talent for setting the scene to provide the answers she needs. Perhaps Kate is at a party, gathering information for her latest case. Those notes she is writing will be tucked away as she casually excuses herself from the party to foil the plot.
Activity Booklet
The Activity Booklet highlights the themes in Kate Warne's life. It gives an overview of her journey into tenacity and the legacy she left behind. The booklet includes six thought-provoking activities that guide the readers to apply the lessons of Kate's life to their own. Girls will understand what tenacity looks, sounds and feels like. More importantly, they will understand how to be their own best advocate.
While the Activity Booklet highlights Kate's story, the Biography gives a more in-depth telling of her life. The reader will learn how Kate was tenacious in pursuit of her job as a Pinkerton. It tells how she changed stereotypes, rose to the head of her profession and saved the life of one U.S. president. The Biography contains personal stories and quotes that reinforce Kate's tenacious spirit.
Biography Workbook
The Biography Workbook allows the reader to dive into the lessons Kate Warne's legacy teaches and apply them to their life. We took the same thought-provoking activities from the Activity Booklet and made them into a companion guide for the Biography. After completing the activities, girls will understand what tenacity looks, sounds and feels like. More importantly, they will understand how to pursue their dreams.
Timeline Poster
The Timeline Poster is a quick introduction to the life of Kate Warne. One look at it, and the reader can easily spot the milestones in Kate's life, the events that led to her negotiating her job as a detective, solving crimes and protecting a U.S. president. From birth to death, girls can trace Kate's path and understand how her accomplishments changed the course of history.
Play-It-Forward Cards
Using the Play-It-Forward Cards allows your girls to generalize the lessons they have learned about Kate Warne and her tenacity. By following the directions on the cards, they will acknowledge those instances where they see Kate's spirit in themselves and others in their community. The Play-It-Forward Cards encourage girls to support one another by encouraging and recognizing tenacity in others.
The Accessory is a gift that reminds girls of Kate's tenacity. Her accessory is a small purse called a reticule during the 1800s. It has a "spy" quality, like a secret bag she could easily slip a note into without anyone noticing. This small purse hooks around a belt loop and is easily hidden by a shirt. It is designed to be sturdy and versatile—much like Kate.
The charm is a reminder of Kate's tenacity and problem-solving skills. The G&G Charm is a small, functional magnifying glass, symbolizing her work as a lead detective. It is paired with a disk that reads "You Can Find a Way." Reminding girls that no isn't the end of a story and that tenacity will help them achieve their goals. Everything is figure-outable.


Hand out the materials to the girls, allowing them to spend some time going through them independently. If you purchased the charm or accessory, invite them to try it on or talk about how they can use it or add the charm to a bracelet. Give them time to satisfy their curiosity so they can focus on the lesson once you begin. After a few minutes, bring their attention back to you and start the lesson.

The following sections provide you with guidance to get the girls thinking and discussing the topics related to the theme and lesson contents. Use the discussion questions to the extent time allows.

Consider using a whiteboard to note responses, comments and ideas from the group as you go along.

Timeline Poster

Statement or Instructions:
Direct the girls to the timeline.

Take turns having the girls read each event on the poster.

What do you know about the roles of women in the 1800s?

After reading the timeline, what do you think is Kate Warne’s greatest accomplishment?

Illustrated Portrait

Statement or Instructions:
Direct the girls to the portrait.

Questions:What do you think Kate is doing in the portrait?

Looking at this picture, what do you think Kate does for a living?

Who do you think Kate is watching?
What might she be thinking?

What are your initial thoughts about Kate’s portrait?


Statement or Instructions:
NOTE: If time is limited, group leaders may consider assigning the reading to be done independently before the group meets.

If the group is reading the biography together, consider doing so during silent reading time, out loud by the facilitator, or by taking turns, each girl reading a paragraph or page.

Guided questions to deepen understanding of the Biography:
Have you ever thought about how the first detective agency was founded?

What do you think people thought of Mr. Pinkerton hiring a woman?

How do you think Kate felt when she was assigned to President-Elect Lincoln?

Do you have a job or chore that requires a lot of responsibility?

How do you feel when you accomplish this task?

If there was a motto named after you, what would it be?

Activity Booklet (Reading Section)

Statement or Instructions:
Ask the girls:
What do you think the quote on the cover of the booklet means?

Have the girls open up the booklet and invite them each to take turns reading a paragraph.

1. Read parts of the booklet and use the suggested questions below to deepen the discussion and check for understanding.

2. Read the booklet (up to the activities) and then use the suggested questions below to deepen the discussion and check for understanding.

Guided questions to deepen understanding of the Activity Booklet reading:
Have you ever thought about how the first detective agency was founded?

What do you think people thought of Mr. Pinkerton hiring a woman?

How do you think Kate felt when she was assigned to President-Elect Lincoln?

Do you have a job or chore that requires a lot of responsibility?

How do you feel when you accomplish this task?

If there was a motto named after you, what would it be?

Content Discovery

Statement or Instructions:

The purse is made to fit through the belt loop of your pants, almost like a secret pocket. What would you keep in there?

Why does the charm have a magnifying glass? (You can look through the magnifying glass; it works!)

Look at the saying on the disc. What are ways to believe in yourself?

Activity Booklet (Question Section) Or Biography Workbook

Statement or Instructions:
Invite the girls to complete the activities in the back of the booklet and discuss their answers. This is the heart of the lesson. While some girls may not want to share their answers, please allow time for discussion and processing their answers. The objective is for the girls (when applicable) to apply lessons about the woman’s life and character trait to their own lives.

The following are the questions found in the Activity Booklet or Biography Workbook. They are meant to be answered independently by the girls in the booklet, but may be referenced as needed in the lesson.

Activity 1:
Tenacity means holding on firmly or being determined to meet a specific goal. It wasn’t the custom to employ woman detectives when Kate applied for the job, but she was tenacious and got the job anyway.

Tenacity is the quality or fact of being very determined.

In what ways are you tenacious? Write about your tenacity below.

Activity 2:
Allan Pinkerton and his “Pinks” had integrity. This means they were honest and sincere in their beliefs. Integrity requires tenacity. Sometimes we believe in ideals that aren't supported by others.

Allan Pinkerton had strict ideals for his detectives to follow:
- Accept no bribes
- Never compromise with criminals
- Partner with local law enforcement agencies
- Turn down reward money
- Never raise fees without the client’s prior knowledge
- Keep clients apprised on an ongoing basis

What values are important to you?

Do you look for those values in others?

Who is someone you know with integrity?

Activity 3:
Allan Pinkerton was skeptical about a woman being a detective. However, Kate quickly changed his mind. At the end of her career, Pinkerton said that she had never failed him.

Have you ever had to change someone’s mindset about what girls can and can’t do?

Are some abilities strictly limited to boys?

And are there other things only girls can accomplish?

Make a list and see if there really is anything girls can’t do that boys can, and vice versa.

Is there any difference between what girls can do vs. what boys can do?

Activity 4:
Kate had a dream of acting that her parents did not support. Having no one believe in your dreams is a lonely place to be in.

Write about a time when you felt unsupported.

What was the situation?

How did it make you feel?

What did you do about it?

Have you ever left another person unsupported in their dreams? Write about that below.

Activity 5:
Allan Pinkerton took a chance on Kate. He supported her and gave her the opportunity of a lifetime.

Supporting others is showing you believe in them.

Who supports you?

How do you know they support you?

How can you best support others in their pursuit of goals?

Activity 6:
Kate taught other women how to be a detective. She readily shared her knowledge with others.

Invite a trusted adult woman to read Kate’s story and interview her about it. Perhaps you can learn something from one another about Kate and her tenacity! Ask her the following questions and write down her answers.

What did she learn from it?

What did she think of Kate’s tenacity?

How does she remember to be tenacious?

Questions to deepen discussion (if time allows):
In your own words, describe what it means to be tenacious.

When you think of tenacity, whom do you picture in your head? Why?

How could tenacity help you?

Play-It-Forward Cards

Statement or Instructions:
Tell the girls what the Play-It-Forward Cards are and how they are intended to be used with other girls in their daily lives.

Have the girls take the Play-It-Forward Cards from the Lesson Set and browse through them for a moment.

Go around the group and have them read the front and back of one card aloud. Ask the girls what that card means to them and how they could use it in everyday life. (Depending on time, you may want to limit this exercise to a few cards.)

Remind them that, over time, if they choose to pass out a card to another girl with positive intent, their name will go into a drawing to get the tote bag.


As you close the lesson, you are looking to spark a conversation among the girls about how they plan to use inspiration from Kate to improve their own lives while also helping and supporting one another. The goal is to help them recognize how topics from the lesson apply to their own lives in a positive way.

Discussion Questions
Optional: Use the Timeline Poster as a focal point for open discussion.

What impresses you most about Kate?

What did you find most interesting?

What are some ways in which you can practice tenacity in your life?

What ideas do you have for using the Play-It-Forward Cards?

How did this lesson help you?


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The Digital Lesson Guide is a free download containing the same information from this section. We also have Printed Lesson Guides available for purchase if you prefer to have a physical copy for your personal collection.