Article

Important Dates in U.S. Women's History

Study important and monumental events in women's history with this timeline.

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

A chronology of events in women's history in the United States, from the Salem Witch Trials in the seventeen century to the fight for women's suffrage to the modern Supreme Court ruling against sexual harassment in the workplace.

1776–1807: New Jersey grants women the vote in its state constitution.

1637: Anne Hutchinson banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony for heresy

1692: The Salem Witch Trials, Salem, Mass.

1789: Abigail Adams makes plea to her husband: "Remember the ladies" in the new Constitution.

1792: Sarah Pierce establishes first institution in America for higher education of women, in Litchfield, Conn.

February 15, 1820: Susan B. Anthony's birthday.

1838: Kentucky widows with children in school are granted "school suffrage," the right to vote in school board elections.

1847: Maria Mitchell discovers a new comet, wins a medal from the King of Denmark.

July 13, 1848: Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann McClintock are invited to tea at the home of Jane Hunt in Waterloo, N.Y. They decide to call a two-day meeting of women at the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Seneca Falls to discuss women's rights.

July 19 and 20, 1848: Three hundred people attend the first convention held to discuss women's rights, in Seneca Falls, N.Y. 68 women and 32 men sign the "Declaration of Sentiments," including the first formal demand made in the United States for women's right to vote: "...it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise."

August 2, 1848: Amy Post, Sarah D. Fish, Sarah C. Owen, and Mary H. Hallowell convene a women's rights convention in Rochester, N.Y. Abigail Bush chairs the public meeting, a first for American women.

1849: Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first licensed woman physician.

1850: Isabella Van Wegener adopted the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 and became an itinerant preacher. In 1850 she began speaking out widely for women's rights.

1850: Harriet Tubman begins the Underground Railroad to lead slaves to freedom.

April 19 and 20, 1850: In Salem, Ohio, women take complete control of their women's rights convention, refusing men any form of participation apart from attendance.

October 23–24, 1850: First National Woman's Rights Convention, planned by Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, and Abby Kelley, is held in Worcester, Mass. It draws 1,000 people, and women's movement leaders gain national attention. Annual national conferences continue to be held through 1860 (except in 1857).

1851: The "Bloomer costume" is adopted to urge dress reform for women.

March 1851: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first meet on a street corner in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

May 28 and 29, 1851: Sojourner Truth's spontaneous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech electrifies the woman's rights convention in Akron, Ohio.

February 1853: The Una premiers in Providence, R.I., edited by Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis. With a masthead declaring it to be "A Paper Devoted to the Elevation of Woman," it is acknowledged as the first feminist newspaper of the woman's rights movement.

1855: Lucy Stone marries Henry Blackwell and keeps her birth name, inspiring generations to follow suit.

1861: Women in Kansas are granted the vote in school board elections.

1866: The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) is founded in Boston, Mass.

1866: Suffragists present petitions bearing 10,000 signatures directly to Congress for an amendment prohibiting disenfranchisement on the basis of sex.

May 1, 1866: Eleventh National Woman's Rights Convention is held. The American Equal Rights Association is formed at the end of the convention, with Lucretia Mott as president, and the members pledge to achieve suffrage for both women and black Americans.

October 10, 1866: Elizabeth Cady Stanton declares herself a candidate for Congress from the 8th Congressional District of New York. She receives 24 of 22,026 votes cast in November.

1867: Kansas puts a woman suffrage amendment proposal on the ballot. The first time the question goes to a direct vote, it loses.

1867–1913: Referenda on women's suffrage are held in numerous states.

1868: The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified, including the word "male" for the first time in the Constitution.

1868: The first measure providing for a woman suffrage amendment is introduced into Congress.

January 8, 1868: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Parker Pillsbury publish the first edition of The Revolution, which becomes one of the most important radical periodicals of the women's movement, although it circulates for less than three years. Its motto: "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!"

November 19, 1868: In Vineland, N.J., 172 women cast ballots in a separate box during the presidential election, inspiring similar demonstrations elsewhere in following years.

December 1868: The federal women's suffrage amendment is first introduced in Congress by Senator S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas.

1869: Wyoming Territory grants women the vote in all elections.

May 1869: The National Woman Suffrage Association is founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to achieve the vote through a Congressional amendment, while also addressing other women's rights issues.

March 1869: The federal women's suffrage amendment is introduced as a Joint Resolution to both Houses of Congress by Rep. George W. Julian of Indiana.

November 18, 1869: The American Woman Suffrage Association is formed by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and other more conservative activists to work exclusively for woman suffrage, focusing on amending individual state constitutions.

1870: Women in Wyoming become the first to vote following the granting of territorial status.

January 8, 1870: The Woman's Journal debuts, edited by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Mary Livermore. In 1900 it is adopted as the official paper of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the merged suffrage organizations.

1871: The Anti-Suffrage Party is founded by wives of prominent men, including many Civil War generals.

January 11, 1871: Victoria Woodhull addresses the House Judiciary Committee, arguing women's right to vote under the 14th Amendment.

May 10, 1872: Victoria Woodhull becomes a Presidential candidate on her own ticket, naming Frederick Douglass (who declined) as her running mate.

November 1872: Susan B. Anthony is arrested in New York for casting a ballot with 15 other women.

June 17, 1873: Susan B. Anthony is tried for voting illegally, is convicted, and is fined $100, which she refuses to ever pay.

1875: Michigan and Minnesota give women the "school vote."

1876: Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage disrupt the official Centennial program at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, presenting a "Declaration of Rights for Women" to Vice President Ferry.

1878: Senator A.A. Sargent (California) introduces a woman suffrage amendment, the wording of which remains unchanged until it is finally passed by Congress in 1920.

1881: Helen Hunt Jackson's book, A Century of Dishonor, calls attention to the unjust treatment of Native Americans.

1882: Both houses of Congress appoint Select Committees on Woman Suffrage, and both report the measure favorably.

January 11, 1885: Alice Paul's birthday.

1887: Kansas grants women municipal suffrage.

January 25, 1887: The first vote on woman suffrage is taken in the Senate, where it is defeated 34 to 16, with 25 members absent.

1889: Jane Addams and Ellen Starr found Hull House in Chicago, Ill.

1890: The American Federation of Labor declares support for a woman suffrage amendment.

1890: The American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association merge, becoming the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and pledge to state-by-state campaigns for suffrage.

1890: The South Dakota campaign for woman suffrage loses.

July 23, 1890: Wyoming is admitted to the Union, becoming the first state since New Jersey (1776–1807) to grant women full enfranchisement in its state constitution. Women had been granted voting rights in the Wyoming Territory since 1869.

1893: Colorado adopts a constitutional amendment after defeat in 1877.

1894: 600,000 signatures are presented to the New York State Constitutional Convention in an effort to bring a woman suffrage amendment to the voters. The campaign fails.

1895: National Organization of Negro Women's Clubs organized in Boston, Mass.

1896: Utah joins the Union, granting women full suffrage.

1896: Idaho adopts a state constitutional amendment enfranchising women.

1903: Women's Trade Union League is founded to support working women.

1903: In a highly symbolic move, the National American Woman Suffrage Association Annual Convention, held in New Orleans, prominently featured southern women and voted to accept a states' rights structure along with permitting southern state organizations to exclude black women from their associations.

October 31, 1909: The Woman Suffrage Party is founded.

1910: The first suffrage parade is held in New York City, organized by the Women's Political Union.

1910: Washington State adopts a state constitutional amendment enfranchising women after defeats in 1889 and 1898. It had twice had woman suffrage by enactment of the territorial legislature and lost it by court decisions.

1911: 3,000 suffrage supporters march in the second New York City parade, with an estimated 70,000 onlookers.

1911: National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is founded, issuing an official journal, the Woman's Protest.

July 25, 1911: The first-ever open-air suffrage meeting was conducted in Philadelphia by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, part of a long and popular series.

November 1911: The most elaborate campaign ever mounted for suffrage succeeds in California by only 3,587 votes, an average of one vote in every precinct in the state. This followed a defeat in 1896.

1912: Police close down Margaret Sanger's birth-control clinic.

1912: Hadassah organized.

1912: 20,000 suffrage supporters join a New York City parade, with a half-million onlookers.

1912: Oregon and Kansas adopt constitutional amendments after defeats of previous campaigns.

1912: Arizona adopts a constitutional amendment submitted as a result of referendum petitions.

January 2, 1913: The National Woman's Party is founded by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as an auxiliary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for the exclusive purpose of securing passage of a federal amendment. Their efforts revive the moribund issue. Their first office is at 1420 F Street, Washington, D.C., incorporated on Sept. 20, 1918.

March 3, 1913: On the day preceding President Wilson's inauguration, 8,000 suffragists parade in Washington, D.C., organized by Alice Paul. They are mobbed by abusive crowds along the way.

May 10, 1913: The largest suffrage parade to date marches down Fifth Avenue in New York City. 10,000 people, including perhaps 500 men, paraded past 150–500,000 onlookers.

October 18, 1913: Militant Emeline Pankhurst arrives from England to undertake a speaking tour.

December 1913: At their annual convention, the NAWSA leadership expels the militants (Alice Paul, et al.).

1913: The Territory of Alaska adopts woman suffrage. It is the first bill approved by the Governor.

1913: Illinois is the first state to grant women presidential suffrage by legislative enactment.

1913: The Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference is formed.

1914: Montana and Nevada both adopt constitutional amendments on first submissions.

September 1914: A bequest from Mrs. Frank Leslie, publisher of Leslie's Weekly, puts $1,000,000 at the disposal of Carrie Chapman Catt for "the furtherance of the cause of woman suffrage."

1915: A transcontinental tour by suffragists, including Mabel Vernon and Sara Bard Field, gathers over a half-million signatures on petitions to Congress.

1915: 40,000 march in a New York City suffrage parade, the largest parade ever held in that city.

1915: Woman suffrage measures are defeated in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

1916: Jeannette Rankin becomes the first woman elected to Congress.

August 1916: 36 National American Woman Suffrage Association state chapters endorse NAWSA President Carrie Chapman Catt's "Winning Plan," a unified campaign to get the amendment through Congress and ratified by their respective legislatures.

December 2, 1916: Suffragists fly over President Wilson's yacht and drop suffrage amendment petitions.

1917: North Dakota, Nebraska, and Rhode Island secure presidential suffrage by legislative enactment after defeats of previous campaigns.

1917: New York adopts a constitutional amendment after defeat in 1915.

1917: Arkansas secures primary suffrage by legislative enactment.

January 10, 1917: National Woman's Party picketers appear in front of the White House holding aloft two banners: "Mr. President, What Will You Do For Woman Suffrage?" and "How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty?" Sentinels remain stationed there permanently regardless of weather or violent public response, with hourly changes of shift.

April 2, 1917: Jeannette Rankin of Montana is formally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives as the first woman elected to Congress.

June 22, 1917: Arrests of the National Woman's Party picketers begin on charges of obstructing traffic. Subsequent picketers, tried and found guilty, refuse to pay the $25 fines and are sentenced for up to six months in jail. Their inhumane treatment in jail creates a cadre of martyrs for the suffrage cause.

November 27 and 28, 1917: In response to public outcry and jailers' inability to stop the National Woman's Party picketers' hunger strikes, the government unconditionally releases the picketers.

1918: Michigan, South Dakota, and Oklahoma adopt constitutional amendments after defeats of previous campaigns.

1918: Texas secures primary suffrage by legislative enactment.

January 9, 1918: President Wilson first states his public support of the federal woman suffrage amendment.

January 10, 1918: The House votes 274 to 136, precisely two-thirds in favor of a suffrage amendment.

September 30, 1918: President Wilson finally addresses the Senate personally, arguing for woman suffrage at the war's end.

1919: Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Tennessee secure presidential suffrage by legislative enactment.

January 6, 1919: In an urn directly in line with the White House front door, the National Woman's Party builds a perpetual "watchfire for freedom" in which they burn the words of every hypocritical speech President Wilson gives about democracy.

March 24, 1919: Carrie Chapman Catt proposes the formation of a league of women voters to "finish the fight." The occasion was the 50th Anniversary Jubilee Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, in St. Louis.

Spring 1919: The most prominent National Woman's Party suffrage prisoners (including Havemeyer, Rogers, Milholland, Winsor, and Vernon) tour the country on a train called the "Prison Special." At each stop they speak about the need for suffrage and their prison experiences; between stops they threw suffrage literature out the windows for farming communities.

May 21, 1919: The House of Representatives passes the federal woman suffrage amendment, 304 to 89, a margin of 42 votes over the required two-thirds majority. Opponents block action in the Senate for another two weeks, delaying ratification as most legislatures have adjourned for the year.

June 4, 1919: The Senate passes the 19th Amendment with just two votes to spare: 56 to 25. Drafted by Susan B. Anthony and first introduced in 1878 with the same wording, it is now sent to the states for ratification.

1920: Kentucky secures presidential suffrage by legislative enactment.

1920: The Women's Bureau of Dept. of Labor is formed.

February 14, 1920: The League of Women Voters is founded as "a mighty experiment" at the Victory Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Chicago, Ill. By now, 33 states have ratified the suffrage amendment, but final victory is still three states away.

August 18, 1920: Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify the Amendment. A young state legislator casts the deciding vote after being admonished to do so by his mother.

August 26, 1920: The 19th Amendment is quietly signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby, granting women the right to vote. Carrie Chapman Catt summarized the effort involved in securing passage of the 19th Amendment:

"To get the word 'male' in effect out of the Constitution cost the women of the country fifty-two years of pauseless campaign... During that time they were forced to conduct fifty-six campaigns of referenda to male voters; 480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters; 47 campaigns to get State constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms, and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses."

1921: American Birth Control League is founded by Margaret Sanger.

March 25, 1922: The Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City results in protective legislation for workers.

1923: Alice Paul proposes the Equal Rights Amendment, which is introduced in Congress every year after.

January 5, 1925: Nellie Tayloe Ross is inaugurated as the first woman governor in the United States.

August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle swims the English Channel. She is the first woman to do so, and she breaks all previously held records.

1932: Amelia Earhart makes the first transcontinental nonstop flight by a woman.

March 4, 1933: Frances Perkins is sworn in as Secretary of Labor, as well as the first woman in the U.S. cabinet.

March 6, 1934: Babe Didrikson pitches a full inning for the Philadelphia Athletics (vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers).

1941-1945: Millions of women enter the work force during World War II.

1942: Women's services are established by the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

May 18, 1948: Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Ala., sparking the American civil rights movement.

1960: Enovid, first birth-control pill, goes on the market.

1962: Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, calls attention to the dangers of agricultural pesticides.

1963: The Equal Pay Act is passed by Congress.

1963: Betty Friedan's book, Feminine Mystique, sparks the contemporary feminist movement.

1964: The Civil Rights Act outlaws sex discrimination.

1966: The National Organization for Women (NOW) is organized.

1968: Shirley Chisholm becomes the first black woman elected to the House.

1972: Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibits sex discrimination in schools.

March 22, 1972: The Equal Rights Amendment is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

1972: Ms. magazine is launched.

1973: Roe v. Wade overturns state laws restricting the right to abortions.

1981: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman seated on the United States Supreme Court.

1982: The Equal Rights Amendment fails ratification by the states.

1983: Sally Ride becomes the first American woman to ride into space.

1984: Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman nominated for vice president by a major party.

1987: The Census Bureau reports that the average woman earns 68 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

1992: A record-breaking number of women is elected to Congress.

1993: Janet Reno becomes the first woman to hold the office of Attorney General of the United States.

1993: The Supreme Court rules that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal.

 

This timeline was developed from a chronology compiled by Mary Ruthsdotter at the National Women's History Project and a timeline from the March 1993 issue of Scholastic Search.

For more information about the National Women's History Project, visit their website or contact them directly:

730 Second Street #469
P.O. Box 469
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
707-636-2888
nwhp1980@gmail.com

top