Well, once again, a friend has pointed me in the direction of something interesting. She's partial to the Washington Post, where I'm partial to the NYT. This article comments on a study done by professors at the University of Maryland and Stanford which asked students to make a list of the 10 most famous Americans, a list non-gender specific, and a list of women.
(As a commentary on the list of women thing, that's common in women's studies classes, to point out that most of the women that people know from "American history" and people will be unable to come up with 10 women and will put people on like "Aunt Jemima." I'll find a citation for that one at some point...)
I had difficulty coming up with a list of 10, somewhat because I haven't studied American history for a while and somewhat because I don't tend to think about American history in terms of individual people. I tend to think of it in terms of broad movements.
Or maybe I'm just full of it. Regardless, I'll be using the exercise when I start classes in the fall, since it's interesting, no matter what the answers are.