Friday, 26 August 2011

Women’s Equality Day: United States History in the Making

August 26th is annually proclaimed as Women's Equality Day by the United States President. The celebration commemorates the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment securing voting equality for women throughout the country. At that time, it affected roughly 50 million women in the United States. Currently there are 154, 795,000 women living in the U.S.

I recently released a blog dedicated to the Power of a Canadian Woman. I’d like to take this opportunity to mention a sampling of our American sisters, whose place in history should never be taken lightly. The varied inspirational moments and firsts of these innovative women paved the way for generations of women to come to endlessly strive to be themselves, no matter the endeavor.

Pre 1800’s

Virginia Dare, in 1587 Roanoke Island, Virginia, is the first person born in America to British parents.
Matoaka “Pocahontas”, around 1600, was born to chief Powhatan.. While stories of Matoaka have become legend, it has been established that she did indeed befriend and assist John Smith and the Jamestown colony, saving many from starvation.
Anne Bradstreet, in 1650, became the first published American woman writer, with her book of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America, being published in England. 
Henrietta Johnston, in 1707, began working as a portrait artist in what is now known as Charleston, South Carolina. She was the first known professional woman artist in America. 
Mary Katherine Goddard, in 1766, alongside her widowed mother, became publisher of the Providence Gazette newspaper and the annual West's Almanac, making them the first women publishers in America. In 1775, Goddard became the first woman postmaster in the country (in Baltimore), and in 1777 she became the first printer to offer copies of the Declaration of Independence that included the signers' names. In 1789, Goddard went on to open a Baltimore bookstore, and is considered to also be the first woman in America to do so.
Anne Catherine Hoof Green, in 1767, took over her late husband’s printing and newspaper business, and became the first American woman to run a print shop. She was soon thereafter named the official printer of the colony of Maryland. 
Mother Bernardina Matthews, in 1790, established a Carmelite convent near Port Tobacco, Maryland. This would become the first community of Roman Catholic nuns in the Thirteen Colonies.
Suzanne Vaillande, in 1792, appeared in New York’s The Bird Catcher. This would be the first ballet presented in the U.S. Vaillande is considered the first woman to work as a choreographer and set designer in the U.S.
Anne Parrish, in 1795 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, established the House of Industry, the first charitable organization for women in America.

Early 1800’s

Mary Kies, in 1809, became the first woman to receive a patent, for her method of weaving straw with silk.
Elizabeth Ann Seton, in 1809 Emmitsburg, Maryland, established the first American community of the Sisters of Charity. In 1975 Seton became the first native-born American to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Women’s Rights Convention, in 1848, had its inaugural meeting in Seneca, NY. After two days of debate, 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments. It outlined grievances and set the agenda for the Unites States women’s rights movement.  

Harriet Tubman, in 1849, escaped from slavery and headed to Philadelphia on foot only to be guided by the North Star. This would begin her epic legacy of guiding other escaped slaves to freedom along what’s to become known as the “Underground Railroad”.
Elizabeth Blackwell, in 1849, became the first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree, after earning her M.D. from the Medical Institution of Geneva, N.Y.


Late 1800’s

Mary Elizabeth Bowser, in 1861, as a highly regarded,  free African-American woman disguised as a slave, began acting as a spy for the Union Army. With a position among the slavery ranks at the Confederate White house, Bowser became the highest placed and most imperative espionage agent in the Civil War.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, in 1864, became the first African-American woman to receive an M.D. degree in the U.S. after graduating from the New England Female Medical College.
Lucy Hobbs, in 1866, became the first U.S. woman to graduate from dental school, at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. 

Lousia May Alcott, in 1868, had her first novel, Little Women, published.
Arabella Mansfield, in 1869, was granted admission to practice law in Iowa, making her the first woman lawyer in the U.S. 
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in 1869, formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. The primary goal of the organization was to achieve equal voting rights for all U.S. women.

Ada H. Kepley, in 1870, graduated from the Union College of Law in Chicago, making her the first woman lawyer to graduate from a law school
Victoria Claflin, in 1872, became the first woman presidential candidate in the United States when she was nominated by the National Radical Reformers. 

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, in 1872, became the first published Hispanic-American woman author, with her book Who Would have Thought It? Ruiz de Burton is better known for her 1885 second novel, The Squatter and the Don.
Ellen Swallow Richards, in 1873, was the first woman to be admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Richards earned her B.S. degree and became the first female professional chemist in the U.S. 
Belva Ann Lockwood, in 1879, became the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mary Baker Eddy, in 1879, established the Church of Christ, Scientist. This marked Eddy as the first woman to found a major religion, Christian Science. 
Sarah Winnemucca, in 1879, as a Shoshonean woman alongside her father and brother, traveled to Washington, D.C to protest the removal of the Paiute people to the Yakima Reservation. 
Clara Barton, in 1882, founded the United States Red Cross.
Sarah E. Goode, in 1885, became the first African-American woman to receive a patent. Goode, who owned a furniture store, invented a bed that folded up into a cabinet.

Susanna Medora Salter, in 1887, became the first woman elected mayor of an American town, in Argonia, Kansas.
Lili'uokalani, in 1891, was declared Queen of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, later to be officially known as the state of Hawaii.
Ida B. Wells Barnett, in 1892, as an African-American woman was editor and co-owner of a local black newspaper called "The Free Speech and Headlight." She wrote her editorials under the pen-name "Iola” attacking the evils of lynching and encouraged the black townsmen of Memphis to go west.
Alice Guy Blaché, in 1896, became the first American woman film director, shooting the first of her more than 300 films, a short feature called La Fee aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy).
Amy (H.H.A.) Beach, in 1897, had her “Gaelic Symphony”, the first symphony composed by an American woman, performed in the U.S., and possibly the world.

Early 1900’s

Mary McLeod Bethune, in 1904, founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls (now Bethune-Cookman College). Bethune served as president from 1904-1942 and from 1946-47. In 1935, she would go on to organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women's groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.
Lucrezia Bori, in 1912, was the first Hispanic-American woman to debut at the Metropolitan Opera.
Mary Davenport-Engberg, in 1914, becomes the first women to conduct a symphony orchestra, in Bellingham, Washington. 
Jeannette Rankin, in 1916 Montana, became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Edith Wharton, in 1921, as an American novelist, became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for her novel, The Age of Innocence.
Bessie Coleman, in 1921, was the first African-American female licensed pilot.

Anna Mae Wong, in 1922, as an actress starred in Bits of Life, becoming the first Asian-American film star.
Rebecca Felton, in 1922 Georgia, if only for two days, became the first woman Senator when she was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a temporary vacancy.    
Nellie Tayloe Ross, in 1925 Wyoming, became the first woman to serve as governor of state.  

Gertrude Ederle, in 1926, became the first American woman to swim across the English Channel.
Maxine Dunlap, in 1931, became the first American woman to earn a glider pilot license.
Jane Addams, in 1931, became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
 
Amelia Earhart, in 1932, became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, traveling from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours.
Hattie Wyatt Caraway, in 1932 Arkansas, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Katherine Sui Fun Cheung, in 1932, became the first Asian-American woman to become a licensed pilot.
Frances Perkins, in 1933, was appointed secretary of labour by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Perkins was the first woman member of a presidential cabinet. 
Lettie Pate Whitehead, in 1934, became the first American woman to serve as a director of a major corporation, The Coca-Cola Company.
Jeanette Piccard, in 1934, as an American adventurer, set an altitude record for female balloonists when she ascended 57,579 feet.
Hattie McDaniel, in 1940, was the first African-American to win an Academy award for Best Actress in a supporting role.  McDaniel won for her iconic role of "Mammie" in Gone with the Wind.  She was also the very first African-American to attend the Academy Award ceremonies as a guest, and not as a servant.
Edith Houghton, in 1946, became the first woman hired as a major-league baseball scout.
Alice Coachman, in 1948, became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic Gold medal. Coachman won the medal for the high jump.

Late 1900’s

Gwendolyn Brooks, in 1950, became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Jerrie Cobb, in 1953, was the first woman in the U.S. to undergo astronaut testing. 
Ella Fitzgerald, in 1958, became the first African-American female Grammy Award winner.

Oveta Culp Hobby, in 1960, became the first woman to serve as a Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Hobby is also the first director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. (WAAC), as well as, the first woman to receive the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal. 
Jacqueline Cochran, in 1960, broke the sound barrier by flying an F-86 over Roger’s Dry Lake, California at the speed of 652.337 miles per hour. In 1971, she would fly at a speed of 1, 429.2 miles per hour, more than twice the speed of sound. 
Rita Moreno, in 1961, became the first Hispanic-American woman to win the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role as Anita in the film adaptation of the musical West Side Story.
Joan Baez, in 1962, was the first Hispanic-American woman to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine.
Margaret Chase Smith, in 1964, as a Maine native, became the first woman nominated for president of the Unites States by a major political party, at the RNC in San Francisco.
Patsy Takemoto Mink, in 1965, from Hawaii, became the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress. Mink served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years. 
Constance Baker Motley, in 1966, became the first African-American federal judge.
Muriel “Mickey” Siebert, in 1967, became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Siebert was also the first woman to head one of its member firms.   
Althea Gibson, in 1967, became the first African-American tennis player to win a singles title at Wimbledon.
Shirley Chisholm, in 1969 New York, became the first African-American woman in Congress. Chisholm served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years.
Maya Angelou, in 1969, released her most highly acclaimed book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Diane Crump, in 1970, became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby. 
Romana Acosta Bañuelos, in 1971, became the first Hispanic-American woman to become U.S. treasurer.
Sally Jean Priesand, in 1972, is the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the United States. 
Juanita Kreps, in 1972, became the first woman director of the New York Stock Exchange. Kreps later became the first U.S. woman appointed Secretary of Commerce.  
Connie Chung, in 1974, became the first Asian-American woman to become a television news reporter.
Sarah Caldwell, in 1976, became the first woman to conduct at the New York Metropolitan Opera House.
Sandra Day O'Connor, in 1981, was appointed by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, making her its first woman justice.
Dr. Sally K. Ride, in 1983, became the first American woman to be sent into space. 
Geraldine Ferraro, in 1984, was the first woman to run for vice-president on a major party ticket.
Vanessa Williams, in 1984, was the first African-American women to be named Miss America.
Wilma Mankiller, in 1985, became the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Oprah Winfrey, in 1986, became the first African-American women television host.
Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, in 1989 Florida, became the first Hispanic woman elected to congress.  She is currently still serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. 
The Reverend Barbara C. Harris, in 1989 Boston, became the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Dr. Antonia Novello, in 1990, was sworn in as and became the first woman (and first Hispanic) to U.S. Surgeon General. 
Sharon Pratt Dixon, in 1991 Washington D.C., became the first African-American woman to serve as a mayor of a major city.
Ellen Ochoa, in 1991, became the first Hispanic-American woman to become a U.S. astronaut. Ochoa would be a part of 4 space shuttle missions.
Carol Moseley-Braun, in 1992 Illinois, became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. senate.
Mae Jemison, in 1992, became the first African-American female astronaut.
Shiela Widnall, in 1993, became the first secretary of a branch of the U.S. military, when she was appointed to head the Air Force.
Janet Reno, in 1993, became the first woman U.S. attorney general.
Toni Morrison, in 1993, became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
Madeleine Albright, in 1997, was sworn in as the U.S. secretary of state. Albright was the first woman in this position as well as the highest-ranking woman in the United States government. 
Lt. Kendra Williams, USN, in 1998, became the first U.S. female combat pilot to bomb an enemy target.
Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, in 1999, became the first woman astronaut to command a space shuttle mission.
Nancy Ruth Mace, in 1999, was the first female cadet to graduate from the Citadel, the formerly all-male military school in South Carolina.

The 2000’s

Hillary Clinton, in 2000, was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first First Lady ever elected to a national office. In 2008 Clinton won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, and became the first woman in U.S. history to win a presidential primary contest.
Ruth Simmons, in 2001, became the first African-American female president of Ivy League institution, Brown University.
Halle Berry, in 2001, became the first African-American women to be awarded the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Monsters Ball.
Condoleeza Rice, in 2005, became the first African-American female Secretary of State.
Effa Manley, in 2006, as co-owner of the Negro Leagues team Newark Eagles, became the first woman elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.
Nancy Pelosi, in 2007, became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Drew Gilpin Faust, in 2007, was named Harvard University’s first woman president in the school’s 371 year history.
Dr. Peggy Whitson, in 2007, as an American astronaut, became the first woman to command the International Space Station. 
Captain Rachelle Jones, first officer Stephanie Grant, flight attendant Diana Galloway and flight attendant Robin Rogers, in 2009, became the first all African American female flight crew when they took their historic flight from Atlanta to Nashville, having come together accidentally when the scheduled first officer called in sick.

Sonia Sotomayor, in 2009, became the first Hispanic-American woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Kathryn Bigelow, in 2010, became the first woman ever to win an Academy Award as best director for her film The Hurt Locker.

I hope this list has enabled you to recognize your own greatness.  As I had mentioned in our Canadian Women’s blog:

“I encourage you to think of these heroines, trumpeted or not, as we guide the young women in our lives to do nothing less but achieve what they set out to do. When we stand up for equality and represent our individual diversity, nothing is in vain.”


“I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights.”
- Inez Milholland, Suffragist in 1909


1 comment:

  1. Interesting sharing !!!
    This is really inspiring and helpful for me to use this for my
    paraphrase sentence
    Thank you..

    ReplyDelete