The first professional string quartet made up of women was called the Eichberg String Quartet; it was based in Boston and active in the late Victorian era. One of the ladies in the group was a woman named Lillian Shattuck. Someone at Harvard scanned her scrapbook and it is now being hosted at the Harvard University Library website. Take a look if you’re interested in seeing some beautiful portraits of women violinists from the turn of the century.
Edit (27 May): The link doesn’t work. It worked yesterday. It’s as if the Harvard University Library website doesn’t want anyone to see their collection. Well…try googling “Lillian Shattuck” Harvard. And a big thumbs down to the Harvard University Library website. I applaud your digitization of this important collection, but next time it would be nice if you’d include, you know, a link so that people, you know, can go visit it.
Edit (30 May): Try the comment section for a working link.