Timeline of women in the United States

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This is a timeline of women in the history of America, noting important events relevant in American women's history. For a detailed timeline of individual American women's firsts, see the List of American women's firsts.



Official portrait of Kamala Harris, 2021 Kamala Harris Vice Presidential Portrait.jpg
Official portrait of Kamala Harris, 2021

1756: Lydia Taft is the first woman to vote legally in Colonial America. [1]

1821: Emma Willard founds the Troy Female Seminary in New York; it is the first school in the country founded to provide young women with a college-level education. [2] [3]

1837: The first American convention held to advocate women's rights was the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women held in 1837. [4] [5]

1837: Oberlin College becomes the first American college to admit women.

1840: The first petition for a law granting married women the right to own property was established in 1840. [6]

1845: Lowell Female Labor Reform Association opened in 1845 as the first major labor union. [7]

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York. [4]

1855: New York Women's Hospital opened in 1855 as the first hospital solely devoted to ailments affiliated with women. [8]

1869: Wyoming is the first territory to give women the right to vote. [9]

1870: Louisa Ann Swain is the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election. She cast her ballot on September 6, 1870, in Laramie, Wyoming. [10] [11]

1870: The first all-female jury in America is sworn in March 7, 1870 in Laramie, Wyoming. [9]

1874: Mary Ewing Outerbridge, from Staten Island, introduces tennis to America, creating the first American tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. [12]

1892: The first women's basketball game was played at Smith College, and conducted by Senda Berenson. [13]

1916: Jeannette Rankin becomes the first woman to hold high office in the United States when she is elected to Congress, as a Republican from Montana.

1916: The first birth control clinic in America is opened by Margaret Sanger. [14] [15]

1940: The first social security beneficiary was Ida May Fuller, she received check 00-000-001 in the amount of $22.54. [16]

1948: The Women's Armed Services Integration Act gives women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. [17]

1965: In Griswold v. Connecticut , the Supreme Court rules that Connecticut's ban on the use of contraceptives violates the right to marital privacy. [18]

1972: The US Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment, which stipulates that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

1972: Title IX is passed as a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, which states (in part) that: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

1973: Roe v. Wade rules unconstitutional a state law that banned abortions except to save the life of the mother. The Supreme Court rules that the states are forbidden from outlawing or regulating any aspect of abortion performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, can only enact abortion regulations reasonably related to maternal health in the second and third trimesters, and can enact abortion laws protecting the life of the fetus only in the third trimester. Even then, an exception has to be made to protect the life of the mother. [19]

1978: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. [20]

1980: Women first graduated from the U.S. service academies. [21]

1989: In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services , the Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions.

1996: The Matter of Kasinga case sets a precedent allowing asylum seekers to seek asylum from gender-based persecution.

1996: In United States v. Virginia , the US Supreme Court struck down the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)'s long-standing male-only admission policy in a 7-1 decision.

2009: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is signed into law, which states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.

2016: Former First Lady, Senator of New York, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clinches the nomination for the Democratic Party, becoming the first female candidate for President on the ballot of a major party.

2020: Former United States senator from California, 32nd Attorney General of California, and 27th District Attorney of San Francisco Kamala Harris was elected the first female to serve as vice president of the United States.

See also

Related Research Articles

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus. An abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or "spontaneous abortion"; these occur in approximately 30% to 40% of pregnancies. When deliberate steps are taken to end a pregnancy, it is called an induced abortion, or less frequently "induced miscarriage". The unmodified word abortion generally refers to an induced abortion. The reasons why women have abortions are diverse and vary across the world. Reasons include maternal health, an inability to afford a child, domestic violence, lack of support, feeling they are too young, wishing to complete education or advance a career, and not being able or willing to raise a child conceived as a result of rape or incest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seneca Falls Convention</span> First American womens rights convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York (1848)

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women's rights convention. It advertised itself as "a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman". Held in the Wesleyan Chapel of the town of Seneca Falls, New York, it spanned two days over July 19–20, 1848. Attracting widespread attention, it was soon followed by other women's rights conventions, including the Rochester Women's Rights Convention in Rochester, New York, two weeks later. In 1850 the first in a series of annual National Women's Rights Conventions met in Worcester, Massachusetts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Women's rights</span> Rights claimed for women and girls worldwide

Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide. They formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the feminist movements during the 20th and 21st centuries. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behavior, whereas in others, they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favor of men and boys.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States abortion-rights movement</span> Support for womens right to elective abortion

The United States abortion-rights movement is a sociopolitical movement in the United States supporting the view that a woman should have the legal right to an elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy, and is part of a broader global abortion-rights movement. The movement consists of a variety of organizations, with no single centralized decision-making body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abortion in the United States</span> Termination of a pregnancy in the United States

Abortion in the United States and its territories is a divisive issue in American politics and culture wars, with widely different abortion laws in U.S. states. Since 1976, the Republican Party has generally sought to restrict abortion access based on the stage of pregnancy or to criminalize abortion, whereas the Democratic Party has generally defended access to abortion and has made contraception easier to obtain. The abortion-rights movement advocates for patient choice and bodily autonomy, while the anti-abortion movement maintains the fetus has a right to live. Historically framed as a debate between the pro-choice and pro-life labels, most Americans agree with some positions of each side. Support for abortion gradually increased in the U.S. beginning in the early 1970s, and stabilized during the 2010s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abortion law</span> Laws that allow, prohibit, or regulate abortion

Abortion laws vary widely among countries and territories, and have changed over time. Such laws range from abortion being freely available on request, to regulation or restrictions of various kinds, to outright prohibition in all circumstances. Many countries and territories that allow abortion have gestational limits for the procedure depending on the reason; with the majority being up to 12 weeks for abortion on request, up to 24 weeks for rape, incest, or socioeconomic reasons, and more for fetal impairment or risk to the woman's health or life. As of 2022, countries that legally allow abortion on request or for socioeconomic reasons comprise about 60% of the world's population.

Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health that vary amongst countries around the world. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:

Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.

Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting) represents formal changes and reforms regarding women's rights. The changes include actual law reforms as well as other formal changes, such as reforms through new interpretations of laws by precedents. The right to vote is exempted from the timeline: for that right, see Timeline of women's suffrage. The timeline excludes ideological changes and events within feminism and antifeminism; for that, see Timeline of feminism.

This is a timeline of reproductive rights legislation, a chronological list of laws and legal decisions affecting human reproductive rights. Reproductive rights are a sub-set of human rights pertaining to issues of reproduction and reproductive health. These rights may include some or all of the following: the right to legal or safe abortion, the right to birth control, the right to access quality reproductive healthcare, and the right to education and access in order to make reproductive choices free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. Reproductive rights may also include the right to receive education about contraception and sexually transmitted infections, and freedom from coerced sterilization, abortion, and contraception, and protection from practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feminism in the United States</span> History of the feminist movement in the USA

Feminism in the United States refers to the collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending a state of equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women in the United States. Feminism has had a massive influence on American politics. Feminism in the United States is often divided chronologically into first-wave, second-wave, third-wave, and fourth-wave feminism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abortion law in the United States by state</span> Termination of pregnancy in states of the United States

The legality of abortion in the United States and the various restrictions imposed on the procedure vary significantly depending on the laws of each state or other jurisdiction. Some states prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy with few exceptions, others permit it up to a certain point in a woman's pregnancy, while others allow abortion throughout a woman's pregnancy. In states where abortion is legal, several classes of restrictions on the procedure may exist, such as parental consent or notification laws, requirements that patients be shown an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, mandatory waiting periods, and counseling requirements. Abortion laws tend to be the most strict in the Southern United States and the most lenient in the Northeastern and Western United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abortion-rights movements</span> Social movement advocating for legal access to abortion

Abortion-rights movements, also self-styled as pro-choice movements, advocate for the right to have legal access to induced abortion services including elective abortion. They seek to represent and support women who wish to terminate their pregnancy without fear of legal or social backlash. These movements are in direct opposition to anti-abortion movements.

This timeline highlights milestones in women's suffrage in the United States, particularly the right of women to vote in elections at federal and state levels.

The legal status of women in the United States is, in comparison to other countries, equal to that of men, and generally, women are viewed as having equal social standing to men as well. However, among other similar laws, the United States has never ratified the U.N's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Timeline of women's legal rights in the United States (other than voting) represents formal legal changes and reforms regarding women's rights in the United States. That includes actual law reforms as well as other formal changes, such as reforms through new interpretations of laws by precedents. For such things outside as well as in the United States, see Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting). The right to vote is exempted from the timeline: for that right, see Timeline of women's suffrage in the United States. The timeline also excludes ideological changes and events within feminism and antifeminism: for that, see Timeline of feminism in the United States.

This is a Timeline of second-wave feminism, from its beginning in the mid-twentieth century, to the start of Third-wave feminism in the early 1990s.

Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting) represents formal changes and reforms regarding women's rights. That includes actual law reforms as well as other formal changes, such as reforms through new interpretations of laws by precedents. The right to vote is exempted from the timeline: for that right, see Timeline of women's suffrage. The timeline also excludes ideological changes and events within feminism and antifeminism: for that, see Timeline of feminism.

Abortion in Kansas is legal. Kansas law allows for an abortion up to 20 weeks postfertilization. After that point, only in cases of life or severely compromised physical health may an abortion be performed, with this limit set on the belief that a fetus can feel pain after that point in the pregnancy. The state also had detailed abortion-specific informed consent requirement by 2007. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law applied to medication-induced abortions and private doctor offices in addition to abortion clinics were in place by 2013. In 2015, Kansas became the first state to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure, a common second-trimester abortion procedure. State laws about abortion have been challenged at the Kansas Supreme Court and US Supreme Court level. On August 2, 2022, Kansas voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to restrict or ban abortion in Kansas, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Abortion in the U.S. state of Virginia is legal up to the end of the second trimester of a pregnancy. 55% of adults said in a poll by the Pew Research Center that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Abortion was illegal in Virginia by 1900, but by 1950 had a legal therapeutic exception. At the University of Virginia Hospital in 1950, a review board was created to examine and approve all abortion requests that were approved for psychiatric reasons which resulted in a large drop in the number of abortions performed there. In the 1975 Bigelow v. Virginia case the US Supreme Court ruled that state bans on abortion clinics advertising their services were unconstitutional. By 2007, Virginia had an abortion-specific informed consent requirement. The number of abortion clinics in Virginia has fluctuated over the years, with 71 in 1982, 64 in 1992 and eighteen in 2014. There were 20,187 legal abortions in 2014, and 18,663 in 2015. There are active abortion rights and anti-abortion rights activist communities in the states. The state has also seen anti-abortion rights violence, including at least two arson attacks.

Abortion in Wyoming is illegal as of March 2023


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      Gordon, Ann D.; Collier-Thomas, Bettye (1997). "Introduction". African American women and the vote, 1837–1965. University of Massachusetts Press. pp.  2–9. ISBN   1-55849-059-0.
    In June 1848, two male-organized conventions discussed the rights of women: The Conference of Badasht in Persia, at which Táhirih advocated women's rights and took off her veil; and the National Liberty Party Convention in New York at which presidential candidate Gerrit Smith established a party plank of women's suffrage after much debate.
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