Here is a timeline about famous firsts by American women. This information includes such notable figures as the first published author in 1650 (Anne Bradstreet), to Elizabeth Blackwell receiving her medical degree in 1849, to astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson, who became the commander of the International Space Station in 2007. We also include the 2008 elections during which Senator Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire presidential primary, the first woman to do so, and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin became the first female vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.1901
On October 24, 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a schoolteacher from Michigan, becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.1914
Mary Davenport-Engberg is the first woman to conduct a symphony orchestra, in Bellingham, Washington.1916 1921
American novelist Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She wins the award for her novel The Age of Innocence.1922 1925
Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first woman to serve as governor of a state, in Wyoming. In the fall of 1924 she was elected to succeed her deceased husband, William Bradford Ross. (Miriam Amanda "Ma" Ferguson is inaugurated governor of Texas days later.)1926 1931
Maxine Dunlap becomes first American woman to earn a glider pilot license.1932
Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, traveling from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours.1933
Frances Perkins is appointed secretary of labor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, making her the first woman member of a presidential cabinet.1934
Lettie Pate Whitehead becomes the first American woman to serve as a director of a major corporation, The Coca-Cola Company.
On October 23, 1934, American adventurer Jeanette Piccard sets an altitude record for female balloonists when she ascends 57, 579 feet.1946
Mother Maria Frances Cabrini (1850-1917) is canonized by Pope Pius XII. She is the first U.S. citizen (she was born in Italy) to become a saint.
Edith Houghton becomes the first woman hired as a first major-league baseball scout.1953 1960
Oveta Culp Hobby becomes the first woman to serve as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. She is also the first director of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and the first woman to receive the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal.
Jacqueline Cochran breaks the sound barrier by flying an F-86 over Roger's Dry Lake, California, at the speed of 652.337 miles per hour. Eleven years later, she flies at a speed of 1, 429.2 miles per hour, more than twice the speed of sound.1964
Margaret Chase Smith, of Maine, becomes the first woman nominated for president of the United States by a major political party, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco.1965 1967
Muriel "Mickey" Siebert becomes the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and the first woman to head one of its member firms.1969
Shirley Chisholm, of New York, becomes the first African-American woman in Congress. Her motto is, "Unbought and unbossed." She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years.1970
Diane Crump becomes the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby.1972
Sally Jean Priesand is ordained as the first woman rabbi in the United States.
Juanita Kreps becomes the first woman director of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1977 she became the first woman appointed Secretary of Commerce.1975 1976 1981