Women's history




Women's history


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World history


Women's history







Susan Bell Burnell

For two years, Bell Burnell constructed the radio telescope which she would begin to operate in July 1967. Each complete coverage of the sky with the radio telescope required four days.


Pennsylvania v. Addics

This important trial introduced the principle of "the best interests of the child" in determining custody.


Clara Barton

In 1853 Barton obtained an appointment as copyist in the Patent Office in Washington, D.C., becoming the first woman in America to hold such a government post.


Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wilder did not begin writing her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, until 1931 and it was released the following year. The instant success of the book led to the Little House series, which became popular with young readers.


Gertrude Ederle

A mere four years after her mother taught her to swim, Ederle set an eight-hundred-yard freestyle record with a time of thirteen minutes and nineteen seconds.



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Valentina Tereshkova

Tereshkova took off from the Tyuratam Space Station in the Vostok VI in 1963, and orbited the Earth for almost three days, showing women had the same resistance to space as men.


Sandra Bullock

Bullock's Hollywood success has put her in the same league as Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts. She wowed film critics with her first starring role in a major motion picture, While You Were Sleeping, which has the box office returns to prove that she also charmed movie audiences.


Martha Graham

The 1940s were Graham's heyday. During the decade, her experimentation, earlier acclaimed in New York dance circles, became widely known; as modern dance was popularized, her name became synonymous with the form.


Louise Erdrich

The daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a German-American father, Erdrich explores Native American themes in her works, with major characters representing both sides of her heritage.


Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson

In September 1978, Vinson took an indefinite sick leave. The following month, the bank fired her for her excessive use of that leave. In 1980, Vinson sued Taylor and the bank, claiming that she had "constantly been subjected to sexual harassment" by Taylor in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination against women.


Maxine Hong-Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston is a highly acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction and was one of the first Asian Americans to make it to the top of the literary world in America.


Andrea Jung

Jung relishes her status as one of the country's few female chief executives of a major corporation.


Georgia O'Keeffe

In 1929 O'Keeffe began spending time in New Mexico; that region's dramatic mesas, ancient Spanish architecture, vegetation, and desiccated terrain became her constant themes.



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Jane Addams

Jane Addams was one of the first people in America who sought to improve the lives of the desperate poor. In Chicago she founded a settlement house (community center) called Hull House. Her work toward social improvements in Chicago, coupled with the work of other reformers, marked the beginning of the Progressive movement in America.


Irene of Athens

Irene came to rule the Byzantine Empire at a time when it was deeply divided over the use of icons (sacred paintings or sculptures) in the church. Constantine I had issued the Edict of Milan in 313 legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire.



In 1881 Barton incorporated the American Red Cross, with herself as president. A year later her extraordinary efforts brought about United States ratification of the Geneva Convention.


Norma McCorvey

Norma McCorvey became pregnant in the summer of 1969. The 21-year-old woman's marriage had failed, and her mother and stepfather were raising her five-year-old daughter. McCorvey did not want to continue her pregnancy. Since Texas law prohibited abortion except to save a woman's life, McCorvey began to look for someone willing to perform one illegally.


Christine Todd Whitman

Whitman was not a career politician when she ran for the New Jersey governor's office. Her only previous political experience had been winning election to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.




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1848       The first women's rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlines grievances and sets the agenda for the women's rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.

1850       The first National Women's Rights Convention takes place in Worcester, Mass., attracting more than 1,000 participants. National conventions are held yearly (except for 1857) through 1860.

1869       Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association. The primary goal of the organization is to achieve voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.

1869       Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and others form the American Woman Suffrage Association. This group focuses exclusively on gaining voting rights for women through amendments to individual state constitutions.

1869       The territory of Wyoming passes the first women's suffrage law. The following year, women begin serving on juries in the territory.

1890       The National Women Suffrage Association and the American Women Suffrage Association merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). As the movement's mainstream organization, NAWSA wages state-by-state campaigns to obtain voting rights for women.

1893       Colorado is the first state to adopt an amendment granting women the right to vote. Utah and Idaho follow suit in 1896, Washington State in 1910, California in 1911, Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona in 1912, Alaska and Illinois in 1913, Montana and Nevada in 1914, New York in 1917; Michigan, South Dakota, and Oklahoma in 1918.

1896       The National Association of Colored Women is formed, bringing together more than 100 black women's clubs. Leaders in the black women's club movement include Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, and Anna Julia Cooper.

1903       The National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) is established to advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women.

1913       Alice Paul and Lucy Burns form the Congressional Union to work toward the passage of a federal amendment to give women the vote. The group is later renamed the National Women's Party. Members picket the White House and practice other forms of civil disobedience.

1916       Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y. Although the clinic is shut down 10 days later and Sanger is arrested, she eventually wins support through the courts and opens another clinic in New York City in 1923.

1919       The federal woman suffrage amendment, originally written by Susan B. Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878, is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is then sent to the states for ratification.

1920       The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor is formed to collect information about women in the workforce and safeguard good working conditions for women.

1920       The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.

1921       Margaret Sanger founds the American Birth Control League, which evolves into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.

1935       Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women's groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.

1936       The federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail is modified and birth control information is no longer classified as obscene. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, birth control advocates are engaged in numerous legal suits.

1955       The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian organization in the United States, is founded. Although DOB originated as a social group, it later developed into a political organization to win basic acceptance for lesbians in the United States.

1960       The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills.

1961       President John Kennedy establishes the President's Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. The report issued by the Commission in 1963 documents substantial discrimination against women in the workplace and makes specific recommendations for improvement, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care.

1963       Betty Friedan publishes her highly influential book The Feminine Mystique, which describes the dissatisfaction felt by middle-class American housewives with the narrow role imposed on them by society. The book becomes a best-seller and galvanizes the modern women's rights movement.

1963       Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.

1964       Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. At the same time it establishes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate complaints and impose penalties.

1965       In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court strikes down the one remaining state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples.

1966       The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by a group of feminists including Betty Friedan. The largest women's rights group in the U.S., NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.

1967       Executive Order 11375 expands President Lyndon Johnson's affirmative action policy of 1965 to cover discrimination based on gender. As a result, federal agencies and contractors must take active measures to ensure that women as well as minorities enjoy the same educational and employment opportunities as white males.

1968       The EEOC rules that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers are illegal. This ruling is upheld in 1973 by the Supreme Court, opening the way for women to apply for higher-paying jobs hitherto open only to men.

1969       California becomes the first state to adopt a "no fault" divorce law, which allows couples to divorce by mutual consent. By 1985 every state has adopted a similar law. Laws are also passed regarding the equal division of common property.

1970       In Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., a U.S. Court of Appeals rules that jobs held by men and women need to be "substantially equal" but not "identical" to fall under the protection of the Equal Pay Act. An employer cannot, for example, change the job titles of women workers in order to pay them less than men.

1971       Ms. Magazine is first published as a sample insert in New York magazine; 300,000 copies are sold out in 8 days. The first regular issue is published in July 1972. The magazine becomes the major forum for feminist voices, and cofounder and editor Gloria Steinem is launched as an icon of the modern feminist movement.

1972       The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Originally drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, the amendment reads: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The amendment died in 1982 when it failed to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.

1972       In Eisenstadt v. Baird the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy includes an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives.

1972       Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in schools. It states: "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 educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." As a result of Title IX, the enrollment of women in athletics programs and professional schools increases dramatically.

1973       As a result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman's right to safe and legal abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of many states.

1974       The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance.

1974       In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that employers cannot justify paying women lower wages because that is what they traditionally received under the "going market rate." A wage differential occurring "simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women" is unacceptable.

1976       The first marital rape law is enacted in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.

1978       The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Under the Act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.

1984       EMILY's List (Early Money Is Like Yeast) is established as a financial network for pro-choice Democratic women running for national political office. The organization makes a significant impact on the increasing numbers of women elected to Congress.

1986       Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court finds that sexual harassment is a form of illegal job discrimination.

1992       In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the validity of a woman's right to abortion under Roe v. Wade. The case successfully challenged Pennsylvania's 1989 Abortion Control Act, which sought to reinstate restrictions previously ruled unconstitutional.

1994       The Violence Against Women Act tightens federal penalties for sex offenders, funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, and provides for special training of police officers.



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Women's history



Women's history


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Women's history


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