Timeline of Women’s Achievements in History

By Lisa A. Alzo Premium


This photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after her arrest. 
1778: Deborah Sampson disguises herself as a man and fights in the American Revolution

1843: Former slave Isabelle Baumtree changes her name to Sojourner Truth and begins lecturing about suffrage and abolition

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, approves the Declaration of Sentiments focusing on women’s rights

1849: Elizabeth Blackwell is the first US woman to earn a medical degree

1850: Oregon’s Donation Land Claim law grants married women the right to own land

1854: Florence Nightingale introduces nursing innovations in Britain; Susan B. Anthony begins her crusade for American women’s rights

1881: Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross

1889: Journalist Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane, leaves New York on a 24,899-mile journey around the world

This photo of Nellie Bly from the Library of Congress notes her real name, Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman.

1890: Wyoming is the first state to allow women to vote

1892: Annie Moore from Ireland is the first immigrant to arrive through Ellis Island

1900: Women first participate in modern Olympics in three events: golf, tennis and yachting

1901: Army Nurse Corps opens the door for women to serve in the US military

1903: Marie Curie wins the Nobel Prize for physics for her work with radioactivity

This photo of Madame Marie Curie from the Library of Congress shows the prizewinner. 

1905: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt marries her fifth cousin once removed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in New York City

1916: Manitoba is the first Canadian province to allow women to vote in provincial elections

1920: The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution grants women the right to vote in federal elections

1955: Seamstress Rosa Parks becomes a civil rights pioneer after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala.

1966: Betty Goldstein Friedan founds the National Organization for Women (NOW)

1972: American journalist Gloria Steinem helps launch Ms. Magazine

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed first female justice of the US Supreme Court

1984: Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman vice-presidential nominee of a major US political party

1997: Czech-born American diplomat Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State

1999: Col. Eileen Collins is the first woman to command a space shuttle

2005: Danica Patrick finishes fourth in the Indianapolis 500, the best finish ever for a woman in the race’s history

2007: Californian Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to serve as speaker of the US House of Representatives, making her the highest-ranking woman in US government history