Timeline of women in the United States

This is a timeline of women in the history of America, noting important events relevant in American women's history. For a detailed timeline of individual American women's firsts, see the List of American women's firsts.


1756: Lydia Taft is the first woman to vote legally in Colonial America.[1]

1821: Emma Willard founds the Troy Female Seminary in New York; it is the first school in the country founded to provide young women with a college-level education.[2][3]

1837: The first American convention held to advocate women's rights was the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women held in 1837.[4][5]

1837: Oberlin College becomes the first American college to admit women.

1840: The first petition for a law granting married women the right to own property was established in 1840.[6]

1845: Lowell Female Labor Reform Association opened in 1845 as the first major labor union.[7]

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York.[4]

1855: :New York Women's Hospital opened in 1855 as the first hospital solely devoted to ailments affiliated with women.[8]

1869: Wyoming is the first territory to give women the right to vote.[9]

1870: Louisa Ann Swain is the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election. She cast her ballot on September 6, 1870, in Laramie, Wyoming.[10][11]

1870: The first all-female jury in America is sworn in March 7, 1870 in Laramie, Wyoming.[9]

1874: Mary Ewing Outerbridge, from Staten Island, introduces tennis to America, creating the first American tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club.[12]

1892: The first women's basketball game was played at Smith College, and conducted by Senda Berenson.[13]

1916: Jeannette Rankin becomes the first woman to hold high office in the United States when she is elected to Congress, as a Republican from Montana.

1916: The first birth control clinic in America is opened by Margaret Sanger.[14][15]

1940: The first social security beneficiary was Ida May Fuller, she received check 00-000-001 in the amount of $22.54.[16]

1948: The Women's Armed Services Integration Act gives women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.[17]

1965: In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court rules that Connecticut's ban on the use of contraceptives violates the right to marital privacy.[18]

1972: The US Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment, which stipulates that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

1972: Title IX is passed as a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, which states (in part) that: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

1973: Roe vs. Wade rules unconstitutional a state law that banned abortions except to save the life of the mother. The Supreme Court rules that the states are forbidden from outlawing or regulating any aspect of abortion performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, can only enact abortion regulations reasonably related to maternal health in the second and third trimesters, and can enact abortion laws protecting the life of the fetus only in the third trimester. Even then, an exception has to be made to protect the life of the mother.[19]

1978: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.[20]

1980: Women first graduated from the U.S. service academies.[21]

1989: In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions.

1996: The Matter of Kasinga case sets a precedent allowing asylum seekers to seek asylum from gender-based persecution.

1996: In United States v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court struck down the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)'s long-standing male-only admission policy in a 7-1 decision.

2009: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is signed into law, which states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.

2016: Former First Lady, Senator of New York, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clinches the nomination for the Democratic Party, becoming the first female candidate for President on the ballot of a major party.

See also


  1. "Women in Politics". International Women's Democracy Center. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  2. "Timeline Special: Women in the United States". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  3. "Troy Female Seminary". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Though it is popularly known as the first-ever women's rights convention, the Seneca Falls Convention was preceded by the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in 1837 held in New York City, at which women's rights issues were debated, especially African-American women's rights.
      Gordon, Ann D.; Collier-Thomas, Bettye (1997). "Introduction". African American women and the vote, 1837–1965. University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 2–9. ISBN 1-55849-059-0.
    In June 1848, two male-organized conventions discussed the rights of women: The Conference of Badasht in Persia, at which Táhirih advocated women's rights and took off her veil; and the National Liberty Party Convention in New York at which presidential candidate Gerrit Smith established a party plank of women's suffrage after much debate.
  5. The Seneca Falls Convention (Reason): American Treasures of the Library of Congress
  6. Read, Phyllis J., and Bernard Witlieb (1992). The Book of Women's Firsts: Breakthrough Achievements of Almost 1,000 American Women. New York, NY: Random House.
  7. James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer(1971). Notable American Women, 1607-1950; A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  8. Selcer, Richard F (2006). Civil War America, 1850 to 1875. New York: Facts On File.
  9. 1 2 "Nellie Tayloe Ross: The First Woman Governor". University of Wyoming. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  10. Beeton, Beverly (1986). Women vote in the West: the Woman Suffrage Movement, 18691896. New York: Garland Science. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8240-8251-2.
  11. Danilov, Victor J. (2005). Women and museums: a comprehensive guide. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7591-0854-7.
  12. "History of Women in Sports Timeline". AAUW - St. Lawrence County Branch. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  13. Hyman, Paula, Deborah Dash Moore, and Phyllis Holman Weisbard (1997). Jewish women in America: an historical encyclopedia. New York: Routledge.
  14. Whitelaw, Nancy (1994). Margaret Sanger: "every child a wanted child". iUniverse. ISBN 978-0595187577.
  15. Sanger, Margaret (1938). Margaret Sanger an autobiography. Norton.
  16. Gruber, Jonathan (2007). Public finance and public policy. Worth Publishers. ISBN 978-0716766315.
  17. "Highlights in the History of Military Women". Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  18. "Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)". PBS. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  19. "Roe v. Wade (1973)". PBS. Retrieved January 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  20. "The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978". U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  21. Timelines of American Women's History - Sue Heinemann - Google Books
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