First Women Birthdays in October

October 1 – Carolina Scott Harrison was the First First Lady to install electricity in the White House.

October 2 – Ruth Bryan Owen was the First Woman to hold a major diplomatic post. She was appointed minister to Denmark in 1933. She was also the First Woman to serve on a major congressional committee.

October 3 – Gertrude Berg created, wrote and produced the first family sitcom, in 1949. She won the first Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in the show.

October 3 – Ruth Muskrat Bronson, was the first guidance and placement officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

October 6 – Susie King Taylor was the First African American to openly teach former slaves. She was also a nurse during the Civil War.

October 7 – Tania Aebi, was the First U.S. Woman to sail around the world solo. The trip took 27 months.

October 10 – Alice Jordan Blake was the First Woman to graduate in law from Yale. Yale had to admit her because their regulations did not preclude women. After Blake’s admittance Yale re-wrote its admissions requirements to expressly exclude women.

October 11 – Eleanor Roosevelt was the First presidential spouse to hold press conferences, speak at a national convention, or write a newspaper column.

 October 12 – Amy Eilberg was the First Woman ordained as a rabbi in Conservative Judaism, 1985.

 October 13 – Mary McCauley, also known as “Molly Pitcher” was the First Woman to receive a military pension from a state government when Pennsylvania awarded her an annual pension of $40 after the Revolutionary War.

 October 14 – Hannah Arendt, a political theorist, was the First Woman lecturer at Princeton, in 1959.

October 15 – Fanny Jackson Coppin was the First African American Woman to run a university in the United States. She headed what is now Cheyney University in 1869.

October 16 – Lucy Stanton was the First African-American to complete a four-year course of study, at Oberlin College in 1850. She became a staunch abolitionist.

October 17 – Mae Jemison was the First African American Woman to become an astronaut.

October 18 – Brittney Griner was the first WNBA player to dunk the ball and the first to do it twice in the same game.

October 19 – Bertha K. Landes, of Seattle, Washington, was the First Woman mayor of a major American city.

October 19 – Consuelo Bailey was the First (and only) Woman in the country to provide over both chambers of a state legislature. She was president of the Senate and speaker of the House in Vermont. 

October 20 – Maud Nathan may have been the First Woman to give a speech in a synagogue in place of the rabbi’s sermon, in 1897.

October 22 – Abigail Scott Duniway was the First Woman to register to vote in Oregon. 

October 23 – Gertrude Ederle, an American, was the First Woman to swim the English Channel, in 1905.

October 24 – Annie Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls, in a custom-built barrel in 1901.

October 26 – Hillary Clinton was the First First Lady to win elected office when she became Senator of New York; the First Woman to win a presidential primary, and the First Woman nominated by a major party for President. 

October 28 – Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was the First Woman to speak before the United States Congress, in 1864. 

October 29 – Vonetta Flowers was the first black athlete, male or female, to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

October 30 – Gertrude Atherton was the First Woman President of the National Academy of American Literature, in 1934.

October 31 – Shirley Dinsdale was the First Woman to receive an Emmy award, as Outstanding Television Personality, for an early children’s television show, 1949


30 thoughts on “First Women Birthdays in October

  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

  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)


  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.

    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, 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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