1855 Elizabeth Cady Stanton makes an unprecedented appearance before the New York State Legislature to speak in favor of expanding the Married Woman's Property Law.
1866 The American Equal Rights Association is founded with the purpose to secure for all Americans their civil rights irrespective of race, color, or sex. Lucretia Mott is elected president. To test women's constitutional right to hold public office, Stanton runs for Congress receiving 24 of 12,000 votes cast.
1869 Arabella Mansfield is granted admission to practice law in Iowa, making her the first woman lawyer. A year later, Ada H. Kepley, of Illinois, graduates from the Union College of Law in Chicago. She is the first woman lawyer to graduate from a law school.
1872 Victoria Claflin Woodhull becomes the first woman presidential candidate in the United States when she is nominated by the National Radical Reformers.
1873 Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1872): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a state has the right to exclude a married woman (Myra Colby Bradwell) from practicing law.
1879 Through special Congressional legislation, Belva Lockwood becomes first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
1886 Kate Stoneman was the first woman admitted to practice law in New York. Even though she passed the New York State Bar Exam, her application to join the bar was rejected because of her gender. She then launched a successful campaign to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to permit the admission of qualified applicants without regard to sex or race.
1893 Antoinette Dakin Leach was the first woman to challenge a bar admission denial based on gender to the Indiana Supreme Court
1916 Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and becomes the first woman to serve in Congress.
1919 In New York State, two women were elected to the Assembly. Republican Ida Sammis, a well known suffrage leader and supporter of prohibition, ran for the Assembly seat representing Suffolk County in 1918. Her Democratic counterpart in the 1918 election was Mary Lilly from New York County. Lilly was a graduate of the New York University School of Law, the first women to win a scholarship in a competitive exam, and the first woman admitted to practice law in New York. These two women only served one term, but they began a long tradition of women legislators in the state.
1920 Marguerite Smith, a Republican from New York County, is elected to the Assembly at 25, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the Assembly.
1922 Rebecca Felton, of Georgia, is appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a temporary vacancy. The first woman senator, she serves for only two days.
1924-1948 The first women to be elected to both houses of New York State government and a native of St. Lawrence County, Rhoda Fox Graves, served for several terms. A Republican, she was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1924 and served there until 1932. She was unsuccessful in her first bid to gain a seat in the New York State Senate, but won in 1934 and served for 14 years in the Senate, retiring in 1948.
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.
1932 Hattie Wyatt Caraway, of Arkansas, becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
1942 The government reclassified 55% of their jobs, allowing women and blacks to fill them. First, single women were actively recruited to the workforce. In 1943, with virtually all the single women employed, married women were allowed to work.
1946 Eleanor Roosevelt is elected as head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission; She begins to draft the Declaration of Human Rights and initiates the creation of Americans for Democratic Action, a group which focuses on domestic social reform and resistance against Russia and the developing Cold War.
1948 -1953 Playwright Clare Boothe Luce, former member of Congress (1943-47), was appointed Ambassador to Italy, the first woman to represent the U.S. in a major diplomatic office.
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.
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 Patsy Takemoto Mink, of Hawaii, is the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years.
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.
1972 Shirley Chisholm is first black American to run for president.
1974 Ella Grasso of Connecticut becomes the first woman Governor elected in her own right.
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor is appointed by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, making her its first woman justice.
1984 Geraldine Ferraro is the first woman to run for vice-president on a major party ticket.
1989 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, becomes the first Hispanic woman elected to congress. She serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1990 Dr. Antonia Novello is sworn in as U.S. Surgeon General, becoming the first woman and first Hispanic to hold that job.
1991 On January 2, Sharon Pratt Dixon is sworn in as mayor of Washington, DC, becoming the first black woman to serve as mayor of a major city.
1992 Carol Moseley-Braun, of Illinois, becomes the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
1993 Janet Reno becomes the first woman U.S. attorney general.
1997 Madeleine Albright is sworn in as U.S. secretary of state. She is the first woman in this position as well as the highest-ranking woman in the United States government.
2000 Hillary Clinton is elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first First Lady ever elected to national office.
2005 Condoleeza Rice becomes the first African-American female Secretary of State.
2007 Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) becomes the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.
2008 Hillary Clinton wins the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, becoming the first woman in U.S. history to win a presidential primary contest.
Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, becomes the first woman to run for vice president on the Republican ticket.