Get Involved

ABOUT THE PROJECT

SUFFRAGISTS-1Many biographies of American women who came of age during or after the women’s liberation movement include the phrase, “She was the first woman to. . .” Some achieved feats that will be written in history books (first Secretary of State or the first woman to head a Fortune 500 company). Other women’s accomplishments were local and perhaps not as well known (the first woman to head the PTA at her daughter’s school or the first girl to play on her hometown little league team).

It is time to celebrate these women and this website is dedicated to that purpose. By starting a conversation about these women, we can collect their stories. Every reader of this site is welcome and encouraged to contribute.

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE

  1. Submit names of any “The First Women to. . .” you know in the comments box on this page. Enter your own name, the name of a family member or the name of a friend. Include the woman’s accomplishment.
  2. Respond to the “Question of the Week” at the top of the Home Page.
  3. Add your confidential email address on the Home Page to receive notices when blogs appear and updates on the project’s progress.
  4. Tell your friends about this site and ask them to contribute names, thoughts and stories.

Remembering is a special honor for someone we care about. Commemorating a special woman helps her to live on and inspires us in return.

30 thoughts on “Get Involved

  1. Hi Michele, here are two first women to….
    Frist woman head of state for Germany: Angela Merkel
    First woman head of state for Sri Lanka: Sirimavo Bandaranaike
    Ushani

  2. HI Michele:

    Here are two more:

    Deborah Moody of Long Island was the first American (is that the word?) woman to vote, in 1655.

    Elizabeth Blackwell–first woman in U.S. to earn a medical degree (1849)

    Cindy

  3. My oldest sister, Beth Jewell, sent me the particulars of the memory I had of her picture in the local paper due to this wonderful story; she was the first girl to pitch and said:
    “I was ten years old, and the City Parks and Recreation Department had a baseball league for elementary schools. Cindy Hoehne and I petitioned the city council to allow us to play as it was all male. She played first base and I pitched. I even pitched a no-hitter! Someone asked Dad in the stands if that was a boy pitching or somebody’s daughter. He replied, “Somebody’s daughter”. Mom was afraid I would never get married. Estrogen is a strong hormone and as you well know, I am a happily married (35 years) mother of 2.” And a very happy grandmother of a little girl who will never have these barriers to her participation in sports.

  4. Esther Hobart Morris – When appointed justice of the peace for the South Pass District in 1870, she became the first woman to hold judicial office in the modern world. She is one of Wyoming’s two individuals represented in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol Building. http://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/national-statuary-hall-collection/esther-hobart-morris

    If you are ever in the high desert of Wyoming, be sure to visit Atlantic City and South Pass City.

    Here’s more from the State of Wyoming website:

    Wyoming is also known as the “Equality State” because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed here. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office.

    In 1869, Wyoming’s territorial legislature became the first government in the world to grant “female suffrage” by enacting a bill granting Wyoming women the right to vote. The act was signed into law on December 10 of that year by Governor A.J. Campbell.

    Less than three months after the signing of that act, on February 17, 1870, the “Mother of Women Suffrage in Wyoming”-Ester Hobart Morris of South Pass City-became the first woman ever to be appointed a justice of the peace. Laramie was also the site for the first equal suffrage vote cast in the nation by a woman-Mrs. Louisa Swain on September 6, 1870.

    In 1894, Estelle Reel (Mrs. Cort F. Meyer) became one of the first women in the United States elected to a state office, that of Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

    In 1924, Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first elected woman governor to take office in the United States. She took office on January 5, 1925, 20 days before “Ma” Ferguson of Texas (elected on the same day) took office. Mrs. Ross went on to become the first woman to be appointed Director of the United States Mint-a position she held for 20 years, from 1933 to 1953. In 1991, women held three of the state’s five top elective positions and a total of 23 women hold seats in the Wyoming Legislature, three in the Senate and 20 in the House.

  5. Pat Massey Parker
    I was the first woman to have a natural childbirth at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida. On March 18, 1977 our son was born to a room full of nursing students gathered for the occasion!!

  6. So sad to hear the news about Lindy Boggs, first woman elected to congress from Louisiana, and leader of the Civil Rights movement. Very interesting recap of her life and motivations (initially spent time in a convent) on NPR.

  7. Yes, she turned out to be a strong leader, but would she ever have gotten there w/o “filling in?” As I think about first women, so many were ushered in by men. When I was a student leader at a women’s college, Eleanor Roosevelt, then an old woman, came to talk with those of us. Among the many prescient ideas she laid at our feet, was the notion that women could not succeed in isolation without the good will and support of other women and powerful men.

    • You are definitely right about men helping out. Eleanor’s husband was one and I can’t help but think that Eleanor’s influence helped in that regard. Reagan actually made a campaign promise that he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court and then nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to keep his promise.

  8. Jeannette Rankin, first woman elected to the US Congress (1916) and she was from Montana! She was the only vote against WWII (also voted into Congress in 1940); a die-hard pacifist.

  9. I was the first woman in Washington State and possibly in the United States to advocate for a software program to allow online carpool ridematching in the Puget Sound Region working with Microsoft, the Redmond TMA and Bellevue TransManage. I helped direct Washington State grant funds for a demonstration in the City of Redmond that later transitioned to RideshareOnline.com, which is currently utilized in Washington State, Oregon State and Idaho State.

  10. I recommend Clara Shortridge Folz. The first female lawyer on the West Coast. I have her closing statement in “Ladies and Gentlemen if the Jury” and it’s fantastic.

  11. Hi Michele

    What an interesting idea. At first I could not think of a “first woman who.” But then I thought of my daughter “the first girl pitcher” for Seattle Sporting Goods B team in the Seattle NW Boys Little League. This was back when Title 9 was beginning to take hold. Lorrie came to us and said that she and a few of her friends were trying out for Boys Little League. Leslie Manchester, Jill Brooks and her made the teams. So she was not the first girl, but one of the first girls on the team. But she definitely was the first girl pitcher for the team.

    Our neighbor’s friend saw Frank playing catch with Lorrie and came over to teach her how to pitch. He had been a pitcher in minor league baseball. So she learned to throw like a boy. I remember when she was playing 3rd base and the parents would yell out “don’t worry about 3rd base, she has an earring in her ear.” They laughed at her when she was put it the first time to pitch. The bases were loaded because the other pitchers had walked three batters. Again their were yells from parents until she struck out a batter, picked up a hit back to her and threw out the runner at home, and then caught a line drive back to her. She was the team’s best pitcher and always pitched the second half of the game. She was undefeated. She was asked to pitch for the A team the next year, but declined.

  12. This is a wonderful idea. I love it when us women can share stories that reflect the strong leadership of women in our day to day lives. I also could not think of a “first woman who” initially, but then after a day of thinking about this further, I came up with several. Here is one woman who changed my life.

    Sharon Setzler of Bellevue, WA was the first woman officer of a Professional Organization in Seattle called the Seattle Claims Adjusters Association. This was a group of professionals, all men who were claims adjusters for various insurance companies. Sharon and I were a part of the first females to “break the glass ceiling” and be members of this organization and she was the first woman elected to the board. Initially the men did not welcome us women into their private organization, but eventually with the help of Sharon’s leadership, women were accepted and welcomed into this mostly male dominated profession.
    She was a mentor to me during the 70’s and 80’s and I ended up electing as a career, to be a claims adjuster as well for the last 42 years.

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