F is for Fabulous Firsts For Females in America

F is for Fabulous Firsts for Females in America! What role models! What courage! Throw Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan to the curb ladies. Here are some gutsy broads worth aspiring to, beginning with the first little girl born to English parents in the new world.

1587 – Virginia Dare – first person born to English parents. Well – it’s hard to give her a lot of credit. I say the ‘atta girl’ goes to her mama who didn’t have a spinal block or even sanitary conditions.

1650 – Anne Bradstreet published a book of poems in England – first female published author from America. If she could take her poems to England surely I can send a novel to Harlequin.

1790 – Mother Bemardina Matthews established the first American convent of Roman Catholic nuns – Carmelite – in Maryland. There was already a convent in Louisiana but it still belonged to the French.

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell obtains M.D. From Medical Institution of NY making her the first female Doctor in America. This was before the Civil War ladies.

1864 – Rebecca Lee Crumpler – receives a MD from the New England Female Medical College making her the first black woman to be a doctor in US. This predates Civil Rights by a century! This woman is spectacular.

1869 – Arabella Mansfield gets permission to practice law in Iowa. I believe this was sans a law degree. She was just smart!

1872 – Victoria Claflin Woodhull first woman presidential candidte by National Radical Reformers. Women can’t vote but she gets a nomination for a party.

1887- Susanna Medora Salter first woman Mayor in Argonia, Kansas. Again, we’re not voting but can run an entire town.

1916 – Jeannette Rankin – of Montana – first woman elected to House of Representatives. Montana is still a front runner of idealism in my opinion.

1921 – Edith Wharton first to win Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel: The Age of Innocence. You probably remember the film adaptation with Michelle Pfeiffer and Ralph Fiennes.

1925 – Nellie Taylor Ross – Gov of Wyoming. She was the widow of a deceased governor.

1932 – Amelia Earhart – first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic – Newfoundland to Ireland all by herself. We don’t even go to the bathroom by ourselves, so this took a little chutzpah!

1969 – Shirley Chisholm – NY – first black woman in House of Representatives. Again, barely into the age of civil rights and she is going for her dreams.

1970 – Diane Crump – first female jockey in KY Derby. Who knew it was harder to ride a horse as a woman in Kentucky than to get elected to represent your state.

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor – appointed to Supreme Court making her First Woman Justice. I remember this well.

1983 – Dr. Sally Ride – first American woman sent into space. I also remember this.

1984 – Geraldine Ferraro – first woman VP candidate on a major party ticket. And as I stood in line to vote in my first Presidential Election, the men in line kept cracking jokes about putting the women back in the kitchen and making sure she didn’t get elected. I was furious at the rancid stereotyping addressing women.

1993 – Janet Reno first female US Attorney General.

1997 – Madeleine Albright – first female Secretary of State.

2005 – Condoleeza Rice – first African-American female Secretary of State.

2007 – Nancy Pelosi – first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.

2010 – Kathryn Bigelow first female best director Academy Award winner for movie The Hurt Locker.

The final five happened within the past twenty years – three of them less than a decade ago. Gloria Steinhem and Jane Fonda were women other women admired. We were stepping away from heels and bikinis worn simultaneously and into an age of strong capable women like Oprah and Barbara Walters.

When I see the youth of today appearing to regress by emulating Snooki and Paris Hilton, I cringe. Give me some more fabulous females who care about society and politics and science. There’s still more room on the first list.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

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  1. I remember the day Sandra was appointed a Supreme Court Justice very well too. Damn good post. Seeing some of the late dates in this post struck me as sad, you know? First VP candidate 1984 . . . good Lord what took us so long? Have a lovely day . . .

  2. This is the one that got me: “1887- Susanna Medora Salter first woman Mayor in Argonia, Kansas. Again, we’re not voting but can run an entire town.” Really?! Clearly, they didn’t realize then how well women can multitask.
    Women really have come along way from breaking free of stereotypes.
    Bravo – great post!

  3. Amelia Earhart is beautiful in this picture. Thank you for assembling all these names and their accomplishments. My best boss was a principal of our 5A high school. Beautiful woman with the tenacity of a bull dog and she never offended me with patronizing, provincial man jargon.

  4. My sister falls in that last category and I swear I have told her repeatedly I was going to donkey punch her if she didn’t grow a set! (sorry for the vulgar analogy.) Well written post my friend.

  5. Absolutely there is more room on the first list! Maybe that’s why I find the Augusta National Golf Club’s stance on granting Virginia Rometty, (CEO of IBM) acceptance into their Good Ole Boys Club appalling in this day and age. The fact that every CEO in the past has been given membership, but this time…because of gender the boys can’t seem to cough up the green jacket. They can have their stupid club as far as I’m concerned. As far as Snooki and Lindsay goes? I don’t give them a minute of thought. Great post!

  6. Great list, Renee! I actually got to tour Edith Wharton’s home many years ago in the Berkshires area and it and the grounds are breathtaking. I’ve enjoyed several of her books, too.

  7. This is an inspiring post, Renee! We women wouldn’t be where we are today without all of the women on this list (and many others who didn’t make this list!) who came before us. We’ve come a long way, but you’re right that we still have a ways to go.

    I hope I get to see the first woman U.S. president in my lifetime!

    Have a great weekend and happy A to Z!!

  8. Great, thanks for nothing, Renee. I was going to do a post on how much I like women in bikinis and heels – now I have to rethink that, or it will just look bad. 😉 hehehe Just kidding, my friend!

    In looking at the list, it’s rather ridiculous that some of these things took so long! I’ve never understood sexism, but then again, I have four strong sisters who have kept me straight.

    I really don’t understand how Hollywood, supposedly the bastion of progressive thinking (yeah, right!), could have gone until 2010 without awarding a female Best Director. That blows my mind.

  9. Interesting choices! Most of these women I knew by name/achievement, but there were a few new ones. Always fun to read your informative posts, I learn a lot! ~ Sheila

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