By Wendy Zang,
It wasn’t until 1987 that Congress declared March Women’s History Month, in celebration of women’s contributions and achievements. The month was a step up from Women’s History Week, which had been recognized, first in Sonoma, Calif., in the late 1970s, and then a few years later nationally.
While March provides some time to focus on female accomplishments, great women should be celebrated for more than 31 days. Here’s a look at some important dates in women’s history to recognize all year long.
- Jan. 5, 1925: Nellie Tayloe Ross is inaugurated as governor of Wyoming, becoming the first female governor in the U.S.
- Jan. 7, 1896: Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook is published with standardized cooking measurements.
- Jan. 8, 1977: Pauli Murray becomes the first female African-American Episcopal priest.
- Jan. 25, 1980: Mary Decker became the first woman to run a mile under 41/2 minutes, coming in at 4:17.55.
- Feb. 4, 1987: The first National Women in Sports Day is celebrated.
- Feb. 15, 1953: Tenley Albright becomes the first American woman to win a World Figure Skating championship.
- Feb. 24, 1967: Jocelyn Bell Burnell makes the first discovery of a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star.
- Feb. 27, 1922: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women’s right to vote.
- March 4, 1917: Jeannette Rankin, R-Mont., becomes the first female member of Congress.
- March 11, 1993: Janet Reno is confirmed as the first woman U.S. Attorney General.
- March 13, 1986: Susan Butcher wins the first of three straight, and four total, Iditarod dog sled races.
- March 20, 1852: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is published. It becomes the best-selling book of the 19th century.
- April 7, 1805: Sacagawea begins work as an interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their expedition.
- April 7, 1987: The National Museum of Women in the Arts opens in Washington, D.C. It’s the first museum devoted to women artists.
- April 19, 1977: Fifteen women in the House of Representatives form the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
- April 28, 1993: The Ms. Foundation sponsors the first “Take Our Daughters to Work” day. In 2003, the day was changed to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day.
- May 5, 1938: Dr. Dorothy H. Andersen presents results of her medical research identifying the disease cystic fibrosis.
- May 8, 1914: President Woodrow Wilson signs a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
- May 21, 1932: Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to complete a solo transatlantic flight, flying 2,026 miles from Newfoundland to Ireland in just under 15 hours.
- May 29, 1977: Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to qualify for and complete the Indy 500.
- June 9, 1949: Georgia Neese Clark is confirmed as the first woman treasurer of the United States.
- June 10, 1963: Equal Pay Act is enacted prohibiting discrimination based on gender in the payment of wages.
- June 18, 1983: Dr. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.
- June 25, 1903: Madame Marie Curie announces her discovery of radium.
- July 2, 1979: The Susan B. Anthony dollar is released
- July 7, 1981: Sandra Day O’Connor is nominated as the first woman Supreme Court Justice.
- July 12, 1984: Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., is chosen as the first female to run for vice president. She joined Walter Mondale, D-Minn., on the Democratic Party ticket.
- July 19-20, 1848: The Seneca Falls Convention, the country’s first women’s rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
- Aug. 9, 1995: Roberta Cooper Ramo becomes president of the American Bar Association. She is the first woman to hold that office.
- Aug. 26, 1920: The 19th Amendment of the Constitution is ratified granting women the right to vote.
- Aug. 26, 1970: Betty Friedan leads a nationwide protest called the Women’s Strike for Equality in New York City on the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
- Aug. 30, 1984: Judith A. Resnick joins the maiden flight of the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the second U.S. woman in space.
- Sept. 12, 1910: In Los Angeles, Alice Stebbins Wells becomes the first woman police officer with arrest powers in U.S.
- Sept. 20, 1973: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes tennis match.
- Sept 26, 1973: American Baptist minister Capt. Lorraine Potter becomes the first woman U.S. Air Force chaplain.
- Sept. 29, 1988: Stacy Allison becomes first U.S. woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
- Oct. 4, 1976: ABC’s Barbara Walters becomes the first woman co-anchor of the evening news.
- Oct. 4, 1993: Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes second female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Oct. 8, 1993: Toni Morrison wins the Nobel Prize for Literature; the first African-American woman to do so.
- Oct. 23, 1910: Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first American woman pilot to make a public flight.
- Nov. 1, 1848: The New England Female Medical School opens becoming the first medical school for women. In 1874 it merges with Boston University and becomes one of the world’s first coed medical schools.
- Nov. 11, 1993: The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C., honoring the 265,000 women who voluntarily served during the Vietnam era.
- Nov. 14, 1946: Emily Greene Balch, co-founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Nov. 28, 1881: The first organizational meeting is held for the predecessor group to the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
- Dec. 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white person.
- Dec. 5, 1935: Mary McLeod Bethune creates the National Council of Negro Women.
- Dec. 7, 1941: Capt. Annie Fox becomes the first woman awarded the Purple Heart for her service while under attack at Pearl Harbor.
- Dec. 17, 1993: Judith Rodin becomes the first woman to head an Ivy League school, as president of the University of Pennsylvania.
Check out these sites to learn more about women in history:
- Library of Congress — www.womenshistorymonth.gov
- The National Women’s History Project — www.nwhp.org
- National Women’s Hall of Fame — www.greatwomen.org/home.php
- The Biography Channel — www.biography.com/womens-history