Clarina Howard Nichols presents issue of women's property rights to the Vermont Senate, where married women were still not entitled rights to their own property. Read The Responsibilities of Woman
Obergefell v. Hodges
Obergefell v. Hodges is a critical civil rights case guaranteeing same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry by the Due-Process Clause & the Equal Protection Clause. Learn more
172 women cast ballots in New Jersey
In the presidential election of 1868, 172 women cast ballots in a separate box in Vineland, New Jersey. Their votes are not counted.
19th amendment is ratified by ¾ of state legislatures
The 19th amendment was ratified in the Constitution after gaining the support of ¾ of state legislatures. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on the account of sex”.
24th Amendment is ratified
The ratification of the 24th Amendment outlaws poll tax in elections for federal officials. Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
75th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention
At the Seneca Falls Convention anniversary event, Alice Paul proposes the Equal Rights Amendment to further remedy inequality between men and women beyond voting.
Abigail Adams addresses the Continental Congress
Approx. March 31, 1776
In a letter to her husband John Adams and members of the Continental Congress, Adams addresses the concerns of colonial women, saying, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” John Adams dismisses his wife’s plea with jocular disdain, calling Abigail “saucy” and claims “[w]e know better than to repeal our Masculine system." Abigail answers, "I can not say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives." View image of the letter
Alaska territory adopts women's suffrage
All states have adopted married women's property rights
American Federation of Labor supports women’s suffrage
The American Federation of Labor is organized as an association of American labor and trade unions. In its inception, membership was limited to craft unions comprised of white male members. As the labor movement grew, gaining membership and momentum across industries, the AFL extended membership to women and African-Americans. With the influx of women laborers entering the workforce, issues previously deemed “women’s issues” became worker’s issues. Equal pay, 10-hour workdays, women’s suffrage, and better working conditions are now a part of Union’s agendas. Learn more about women and the labor movement
American Indian suffrage is granted as an act of Congress
More conservative members of the suffrage movement form the American Woman Suffrage Association due to irrevocable differences with more radical activists. This organization worked to secure suffrage through individual state constitutions, as opposed to federal legislature. Notable figures include Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe. View The Woman’s Journal
Anita Hill Hearings
Anita Hill, previously an attorney-adviser and assistant to Clarence Thomas, alleges sexual harassment on part of Thomas. Hill is called to testify before Congress about her experience working for Thomas, speaking before an all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee. Thomas categorically denies the accusations. There is bipartisan doubt cast on Hill's testimony and credibility, despite a consistent story, four witnesses who were not permitted to testify on Hill's behalf, and a polygraph supporting her statements. Hill continued on to have a long and successful career as a law professor and attorney. The Anita Hill hearings created a national dialogue regarding race, gender, and workplace discrimination. Black feminists and women across the nation mobilized to create a remarkable response, including fundraising campaigns and the large numbers of women elected to Congress the following year.
Anti-suffrage petition delivered to Congress
Citizens of Macon, Georgia, petition Congress to ask them to vote against a women's suffrage amendment. The petition claimed that the proposed amendment "is dangerous and hurtful to the best interests of our Country and especially to the South, in that the inevitable result of the legislation proposed would destroy white supremacy and states rights." View full petition
Antoinette Brown and Susan B. Anthony are denied the right to speak at the World’s Temperance Convention
Antoinette Brown and Susan B. Anthony are denied the right to speak at the World’s Temperance Convention because they are women, with the remark “The Sisters were not invited there to speak but to listen and learn." Anthony and Brown left and later formed the Woman's State Temperance Society of New York. Proceedings of World’s Temperance Convention
A proposal to give women an equal portion in colonial lands is rejected by the Virginia House of Burgesses
Arizona adopts women's suffrage
Arrest of Rosa Parks sparks Montgomery bus boycott
While riding the bus home from work, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was arrested and fined $10. Four days later the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place, marking the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the United States.
Ban against women in military combat positions is removed
Belva Lockwood is the first female attorney to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court
Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes" exhibition tennis match on primetime television
Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive Company
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that women who meet physical requirements of a position may work in many jobs that had previously accepted to men. Learn more
Bradwell v. Illinois
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that states have the right to exclude married women from practicing law. Learn more
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
The Supreme Court of the United States overturns the principle of "separate but equal". Read more
California adopts no fault divorce laws
California adopts women's suffrage
California becomes the first state to protect women’s rights in a state constitution
California’s constitution of 1849 protected women’s rights not only to property acquired prior to marriage but to property acquired independently after marriage. "All property, both real and personal, of the wife, owned or claimed by her before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife in relation to her separate property, as to that held in common with her husband." In 1852, the California state legislature enacted a law permitting married women to engage in business as ‘sole traders’. Library of Congress Resources on Women in Laws
Christine Blasey Ford Hearings
Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor and research psychologist, contacts her congresswoman and the Washington Post after Judge Brett Kavanaugh is reported to be a possible Supreme Court justice nominee. In a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ford outlines her experience with Brett Kavanaugh when they were at a high school party in 1982 where Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her. Ford requested anonymity for fear of backlash, but after redacted FBI documents are made public and the media attempts to identify the reporting party, she comes forward publicly. Ford agrees to testify before Congress, undergoing questioning by Democratic committee members and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during confirmation hearings, and FBI investigators in a supplemental investigation. Similar to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas controversy, many question Ford's credibility and character, dismissing the allegations as partisan attacks to smear Kavanaugh’s name. Legislators move to confirm Kavanaugh, citing a lack of evidence to satisfy the preponderance-of-evidence standard, which is described as "more probable than not".
Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur
The Supreme Court of the United States rules it is illegal to force pregnant women to take maternity leave on the assumption that they are incapable of working in their physical condition. Learn more
Colorado adopts women's suffrage
Committee Receives 30,000 Petitions
After reviewing over 30,000 petitions requesting a women’s suffrage amendment, the Committee on Privileges and elections recommends that further examination of women’s suffrage be postponed indefinitely.
Condoleezza Rice is the first Black female Secretary of State
Congress outlaws housing and credit discrimination on the basis of sex
Congress passes Gender Equity in Education Act
The Gender Equity in Education Act trains teachers in gender equity, promotes math and science learning in young girls, provides counsel to pregnant teens, and aims to prevent sexual harassment. Read full text
Congress passes Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act
The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer.
Congress passes Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Learn more
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is the first federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law. The CRA establishes that "all persons born in the United States" are citizens of the United States, except for Native Americans. View document
Congress passes the Equal Pay Act
The Equal Pay Act ensures equal wage for the same work regardless of race, religion, national origin, or sex of a worker. Read more
Congress passes Title IX of the Education Amendment
Title IX of the Education Amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all aspects of educational programs that receive federal support. Learn more
Congress passes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex. Read more
Congress passes Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence and allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes. Read full text
Congress reaches a record number of women and minority congresspeople
For the fifth year in a row, Congress is the most diverse it has ever been. 127 women hold seats in the United States Congress- 25 serve in the Senate and 102 serve in the House of Representatives. Of the 127 congresswomen, 47 are women of color.
Craig v. Boren
The Supreme Court of the United States declares unconstitutional a state law permitting 19-20 year old women to drink beer while denying that right to men of the same age. The Court establishes a new set of standards for reviewing laws that treat men and women differently. Learn more
Danica Roem is the first openly transgender candidate to be elected to a state legislature
Debate on women’s suffrage amendment is opened in Congress
Led by the first female Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin, the women’s suffrage amendment is introduced to Congress and debate is opened in the House of Representatives. The amendment passes in the house but fails to gain ⅔ support needed in the Senate. Since the amendment was defeated, Congressman John Raker proposes a committee be formed on the topic of women's suffrage. Some suffragists saw the committee as a means for securing voting rights state by state since the constitutional amendment was blocked. The measure was passed 180 to 107.
Determined to Vote
In the early 1870s, what had been spontaneous actions by women to show up at the polls became more systematic as women planned lawsuits. As part of a nation-wide pattern of civil disobedience in which hundreds of women across the country attempted to vote, Virginia L. Minor of Missouri tries to register to vote, but is refused by St. Louis' sixth district registrar, Reese Happersett because she is female. Minor and her husband, Francis Minor, filed a civil suit contending that women were U.S. citizens under the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which "nowhere gives [states] the power to prevent" a citizen from voting. The state supreme court said that the purpose of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed the rights of citizenship and equal protection under the law to people born or naturalized in the United States, was meant to extend voting rights to the newly freed slaves, giving African Americans "the right to vote and thus protect themselves against oppression...." The court continued by saying that "There could have been no intention [in the amendment] to abridge the power of the States to limit the right of suffrage to the male inhabitants." The Minors appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled unanimously in October 1874 in a decision handed down by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite, that "the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone," because suffrage was not coexistent with citizenship. Primary source document: “Determined to Vote”
District of Columbia passes the Health Benefits Expansion Act
The Health Benefits Expansion Act establishes domestic partnerships in the District of Columbia.
Dr. Sally K. Ride becomes the first American woman to be sent to space
Eisenstadt v. Baird
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that individuals right to privacy encompasses an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives. Learn more
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony part with the American Equal Rights Association
During an 1867 campaign for suffrage in Kansas, Stanton and Anthony choose to work with a known racist. This decision alienates abolitionist members and Lucretia Mott, the president of the AERA. After the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, Stanton and Anthony further distance themselves from the abolitionist movement over the exclusion of women in the amendment. They instead encourage members to support a Sixteenth Amendment granting suffrage to women, but other leaders remain hesitant.
Elizabeth Key, an enslaved biracial woman, appeals to Virginia General Assembly for freedom
Basing arguments in English law, Elizabeth Key and her attorney William Grinstead appealed court decisions to the Virginia General Assembly to argue her status should be determined by her father, a free white, rather than her mother, a slave. Ultimately, Key wins her freedom. In 1662, Virginia reacted to lawsuits like Key’s by passing a law to clarify the status of the children of women of African descent. This statute imposed lifetime hereditary bondage on Africans, and stated that a child would be “bond or free according to the condition of the mother,” rather than the father, as was the case in England. Read: "A Report of a Comittee from an Assembly Concerning the freedome of Elizabeth Key" (1656)
Enslaved woman wins her freedom
Mum Bett, a 37-year-old enslaved woman, wins her freedom based on the argument that the 1780 Massachusetts constitution declares "all men are born free and equal." Although she does not represent herself in court, she provides her counsel with the legal theory, the first time a state constitution is used to challenge slavery. After her success, she changes her name to Elizabeth Freeman.
Equal Rights Amendment introduced to Congress for the first time
Congressman Daniel Anthony, nephew of Susan B. Anthony, introduces the Equal Rights Amendment to congress for the first time. This initial attempt and all following 1,100 attempts fail. Supporters of the ERA believed that sex discrimination was so pervasive in society that only a constitutional amendment could protect their rights. This differed from labor feminists, who thought that activists should seek to change individual amendments that directly negatively impacted women, while not changing those they thought to be beneficial. View history of the Equal Rights Amendment
Executive Order 11246 on sex discrimination
President Lyndon B. Johnson established requirements for non-discriminatory hiring and employment on the part of United States government contractors with including affirmative action plans for hiring women. Learn more
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes a minimum wage without regard to sex. Read full document
Family and Medical Leave Act goes into effect
The Family and Medical Leave Act is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also aims to ensure the interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. Learn more
Fay v. New York
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that women are equally qualifies as men to serve on juries but are granted an exemption and may or may not serve as they choose. Read more
Fifteenth Amendment is ratified
The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, granting African American men the right to vote. The NWSA refused to advocate for ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment and opted to advocate for a Sixteenth Amendment for universal suffrage. This position results in Frederick Douglass and other allies from the abolitionist movement to break from the organization. View joint resolution proposing the Fifteenth Amendment
Fifteen women are arrested for voting illegally
As part of a nationwide attempt to force the issue of woman suffrage and gain headlines, fifteen women, including Susan B. Anthony, are arrested for illegally voting in the presidential election of 1872. At a separate location, Sojourner Truth demands, but is denied, a ballot to cast a vote. Learn more about Anthony’s trial
First Annual Women's March
Over 200,000 people march on Washington the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump to protest numerous statements considered by many to be offensive and anti-women. The Women's March is the largest single-day protest in United States history, gathering between 3-5 million participants nationwide, and over 7 million globally.
First birth control clinic in the United States is opened
Margaret Sanger establishes a birth control clinic in New York. The clinic is shut down just ten days later and Sanger enters a legal battle with the state after she and her associates are arrested. Upon her release, Sanger reopens the clinic and it is shut down again after two days. Read “The Progress of the Birth Control Movement” by Margaret Sanger
First equal pay act is introduced to Congress
H.R. 5056 Prohibiting Discrimination in Pay on Account of Sex was the first bill of its kind to be presented to Congress. The bill proposed that employers be required to pay women equally for equal work. The bill was not passed in 1944 but its principles were later enacted in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. View original document
First law to ban a specific abortion procedure is passed
Congress passes The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, marking the first law to ban a specific medical abortion procedure. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2007.
First National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights
A group of over 100,000 people march on Washington for LGBT+ rights.
First National Woman’s Rights Convention
Held in Worcester, Massachusetts, the first National Woman's Rights Convention was attended by both male and female leaders of the temperance movement, the abolitionist movement, and women's rights movement. Some notable figures include Frederick Douglass, Paulina Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth. The New York Tribune reported that "above 1,000 people were present, and if a larger place could have been had, many more thousands would have attended." Many other conventions were held in the years following, growing in size and support every year. Many key leaders of the movement attended and later spoke at these conventions. Read the proceedings of the Woman's Rights Convention
First openly gay American is elected to public office
Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay American to be elected to public office when she won a seat on the Ann Harbor, Michigan, City Council.
First Senate debate on equal suffrage
While debating the enfranchisement of African American men, Senator Edgar Cowan proposes that the arguments supporting Black male suffrage would also apply to all women regardless of their race. He did not intend to truly advocate for equal suffrage but use patriarchal ideas to divide the Senate and kill the proposed amendment. His assertion failed to stop the enfranchisement of Black men. Voting qualifications were changed from “white male” to just “male”, but Cowan’s strategy highlighted the inconsistencies within the debate for equal suffrage.
First Seneca Falls Convention
Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, and 100 of 300 attendees sign the document in support. The document asserts that men and women are equal and are entitled to unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In 16 points, the Declaration outlines the inequity women face in a patriarchal society including the lack of women's suffrage and concludes, “Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, - in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.” Twelve of thirteen resolutions passed unanimously at the convention. The only resolution that did not pass unanimously was that of women's suffrage, as some people thought it was too controversial and would undermine the women's movement. It is important to note that the Seneca Falls Convention is attended exclusively by middle and upper class white men and women, with the exception of Frederick Douglas. View Full DocumentRead the papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton
First woman addresses a House Committee
Victoria Woodhull addresses the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives to argue for women’s right to vote under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. In her speech, she says “whereas, the continuance of the enforcement of… local election laws, denying and abridging the Right of Citizens to Vote on account of sex, is a grievance to your memorialist and to various other persons” and proposed the committee should draft legislation on suffrage. A minority of the Committee advocates on her behalf, but their combined efforts are unsuccessful.
First woman, possibly first African American, argues before the Supreme Court
Lucy Terry Prince of Vermont, born in Africa, enslaved in the U.S., and freed via purchase by her husband, appears in a property dispute before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding some farmland. The future governor of Vermont, Isaac Tichnor, is her attorney, but Prince presents the oral argument herself. She wins, and Justice Samuel Chase compliments her skill. She is best known to modern historians as a poet rather than as the first woman and possibly the first African-American to argue before the Supreme Court.
First woman receives the nomination of a major political party for a presidential candidacy
Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman to be nominated and lead the ticket of a major political party when she receives the democratic nomination for the presidential election. She is also the first and only woman to win the popular vote in a presidential election.
Florence King is the first woman to win a case before the Supreme Court
Frances Perkins is appointed Secretary of Labor, making her the first woman to serve in the cabinet of the President.
General Electric v. Gilbert
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds women's right to unemployment benefits during the last three months of a pregnancy. Learn more
General Federation of Women’s Clubs endorses women's suffrage campaign
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, an organization of over one million female members in the United States, and their endorsement of suffrage brings the movement into the mainstream.
Genevieve R. Cline is the first woman appointed as a U.S. federal judge
Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman to be nominated as Vice President on a major political party ticket.
Griswold v. Connecticut
The Supreme Court of the United States overturns one of the last state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples. Learn more
Harriet Quimby is the first woman to be licensed as an airplane pilot in America
Harris v. Forklift Systems
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that a victim need not show they have suffered physical or serious psychological injury as the result of sexual harassment. The law allowed homosexual couples to register as domestic partners and granted them some rights that heterosexuals received in marriage. Learn more
Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas is the first woman elected to the United States Senate
Helen Magill White is the first woman in America to earn a Ph.D. degree
Hillary Clinton is the first and only First Lady to run for President
Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first First Lady to be elected to public office
Hishon v. King and Spaulding
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that law firms may not discriminate on the basis of sex when promoting lawyers to partnership positions. Learn more
Hoyt v. Florida
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds a rule adopted by Florida that was designed to make it less likely for women to be called to serve on jury duty than their male counterparts. The rule was based on the grounds that "the woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life." Learn more
Idaho adopts women's suffrage
Illinois adopts women's suffrage
Indiana adopts women's suffrage
International Council for Women is founded
Iowa adopts women's suffrage
Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that Title IX prohibits punishing someone for filing a complaint regarding sex-based discrimination. Learn more
Janet Reno is sworn in as the first female Attorney General of the United States
Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman to be elected to Congress, earning a seat in the House of Representatives.
Jerrie Cobb is the first woman to complete astronaut testing
NASA later cancels the program in 1963 and Cobb never travels to space.
Johnson v. Santa Clara County
The Supreme Court of the United States rules it is permissible to take sex and race into account in employment decisions even when there is no history of discrimination but when evidence of a manifest imbalance exists in the number of women or minorities holding the position in question. Learn more
Joint Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women
The 19th amendment is passed by both houses of Congress and is sent to the states for ratification. View document
Juanita Kreps is the first female director of the New York stock exchange
Kansas adopts women's suffrage
Kimberle Crenshaw coins the term "intersectionality"
Intersectionality is a term used to identify differing forms of discrimination and how they are related to one another. The concept elucidates dynamics that are often overlooked by those outside of disadvantaged groups. Intersectionality considers race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and economic status.
Kirchberg v. Feenstra
The Supreme Court of the United States overturns state laws designating the husband "head and master" of a household, with unilateral control over property owned jointly with his wife. Learn more
Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are denied participation in the World Anti-Slavery Convention
Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are told by organizers of the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London that they could sit quietly in a separate women-only section curtained off from the main convention hall where they could listen to — but not participate in — the convention's proceedings. They respond by organizing a Women’s Convention in the United States. View full account
Mabel Vernon and Sara Bard Field tour the United States collecting signatures
On a transcontinental tour, Vernon and Field gather over 500,000 signatures to endorse women's suffrage. These petitions are presented to Congress.
Madeline Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State
Maine adopts women's suffrage
Maine grants property rights to women deserted by their husbands.
Margaret Brent, the first woman lawyer in America, demands “vote and voyce” in Maryland Assembly
Brent arrived in the Colony of Maryland in 1638 and was involved in over 100 court cases in Maryland and Virginia, and was a major landowner as well. Governor Calvert chooses her as the executor of his Will. As such, and separately on her own behalf as a major landowner, in 1648 she formally demands a "vote and voyce" in the all-male Maryland Assembly -- two votes, in fact. The new Governor, Thomas Green, denies her request. View transcript
Massachusetts grants property ownership rights to women deserted by their husbands
Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds that a work environment can be declared hostile or abusive due to discrimination based on sex. This decision is important in later sexual harassment cases. Learn more
Me Too movement gains attention
Following a New York Times article outlining the sexual harassment of actress Ashley Judd by Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano tweets "If you've been sexually assaulted or harassed write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet". Over 19 million tweets using the hashtag 'me too' have been sent. Following Ashley Judd's initial accusation, professionals from the following industries came forward to share their experiences with sexual violence: media, fashion, religion, education, finance, politics & government, sports, medicine, music, military, and the sciences.
Michigan adopts women's suffrage
Minnesota adopts women's suffrage
Minor v. Happersett
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously in October 1874 in a decision handed down by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite, that "the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone," because suffrage was not coexistent with citizenship. As a result of the denial of the right to vote to women, courts found ways in which to limit voting rights for African-American men as well, cynically skirting the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution with "Jim Crow" laws. Read the caseLearn more
Mississippi belatedly ratifies the 19th Amendment
Mississippi is the first state to grant married women the right to own property in their name with their husbands' permission.
Celia, an enslaved woman, is declared to be property without a right to defend herself against a master’s act of rape. She was repeatedly assaulted by her master over the course of seven years. One night, Celia’s Master visited her quarters and she killed him in self-defense. Her trial was taken to Missouri's Supreme Court where her earlier conviction of first degree murder was upheld, and she was sentenced to death by hanging. Learn more
Montana adopts women's suffrage
Montana territory adopts women's suffrage
Nancy Pelosi is the first female Speaker of the House
National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is founded
The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is formed by wealthy and influential women, Catholic clergymen, distillers and brewers, urban political machines, Southern Congressmen, and corporate capitalists. Read “Some Reasons We Oppose Votes for Women”
National commission for the observance of International Women's Year is established
National Council of Negro Women is founded
Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of Black women's groups that lobbied against job discrimination, racism, and sexism. Its mission is “to advance opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families and communities.” Created as an umbrella organization to foster unity between numerous national and local entities, over 4 million African-American women were affiliated with the NCNW in the United States.
NAWSA Congressional Committee gives way for The National Woman’s Party
As progress made by the NAWSA slowed, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are appointed to its Congressional Committee. Paul and Burns had been radicalized while participating in the English suffrage movement by adopting militant tactics that included direct, and often, violent confrontation with authorities. They aimed to obtain enfranchisement for all women on a national scale by constitutional amendment. Their more extreme strategies concerned leadership of the NAWSA, but they proved to be effective. Paul & Burns organized the Suffrage Parade of 1913 under the NAWSA. The committee was consistently at odds with NAWSA leadership and strategies, pushing Burns and Paul to branch out. They founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage in 1913, later merging with the Woman’s Party to become the National Woman’s Party.
Nebraska adopts women's suffrage
Nellie Tayloe Ross is the first elected female governor in the United States when elected in Wyoming
Nevada adopts women's suffrage
Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that states can be sued in federal court for violating The Family Leave Medical Act. Learn more
New York adopts women's suffrage
North Dakota adopts women's suffrage
Ohio adopts women's suffrage
Oklahoma adopts women's suffrage
Oregon adopts women's suffrage
Oregon expands women’s rights
Oregon passes laws granting many rights to married women. Some of these rights include starting and operating one’s own business, partial financial autonomy, and protection of property in the case of a woman’s husband abandoning her. The passage of these laws is largely credited to Abigail Scott Duniway.
People v. Sanger
Following her arrest for the distribution of prohibited material in 1916, Margaret Sanger voluntarily spent 30 days in jail and appealed her case upon release. Sanger’s conviction was sustained, but the appeals judge ruled that doctors were allowed to advise married patients about contraceptives for health purposes. Sanger was not a licensed medical professional, so she was still held accountable for violating the law, but this case marks an important stride in the birth control movement. Learn more
Petitioning Congress for suffrage begins
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone ask friends and associates to send petitions for women's suffrage to their congressional representatives. Petitions become a very important tool for activism in the suffrage movement. See petition
Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation
The Supreme Court of the United States rules that private employers may not refuse to hire women with pre-school children, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Learn more
Pittsburg Press v. Pittsburg Commission on Human Relations
The Supreme Court of the United States holds sex-segregated "help wanted" advertisements unconstitutional under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Learn more
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds Roe v. Wade but allows states to impose restrictions on abortions, such as waiting periods and requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. Learn more
Plessy v. Ferguson
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds the principle of "separate but equal", allowing segregation. Learn more
President's Commission on the Status of Women is established
President John F. Kennedy establishes the Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. Its purpose is to develop recommendations for “overcoming discriminations in…employment on the basis of sex” and for “services which will enable women to continue their role as wives and mothers while making a maximum contribution to the world around them.” The report issued by the commission in 1963 documents substantial discrimination against women in the workplace and outlines recommendations for improvement. Proposed recommendations include fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care. Read full report
President Woodrow Wilson endorses women's suffrage in address to the Senate.
Quality League of Self-Supporting Women is founded
Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the Quality League of Self-Supporting Women, later known as the Women’s Political Union. Blatch was instrumental in the alliance between the labor and suffragist movements, using both the Quality League of Self-Supporting Women and the Women’s Political Union to recruit working class women for the suffrage movement. Older and more traditional suffragists feared the contemporary, and very public, strategies that Blatch and new recruits favored. Despite their concerns the suffrage movement was reinvigorated and continued to garner combined support from previously independent movements.
Radice v. New York
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds a law forbidding waitresses from working the night shift, with the exception of entertainers and ladies room attendants. Learn more
Reed v. Reed
The Supreme Court of the United States holds unconstitutional an Idaho state law that established automatic preference for men as administrators of wills. Learn more
Rhode Island adopts women's suffrage
Richards v. US Tennis Association
After undergoing gender alignment surgery in 1975, professional tennis player Renee Richards is banned from competing in the women's US Open due to a "women-born-women" rule barring transgender women from matches. Richards challenges the decision and the New York Supreme Court rules in her favor. She goes on to compete in the 1977 US Open, marking an important advancement in the LGBT+ rights movement. Learn more
Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees
The Supreme Court of the United States forbids sex discrimination in membership policies of organizations. This decision opens up previously all male organizations like the Jaycees, Rotary clubs, and the Lions, to women. Learn more
The Supreme Court of the United States rules excluding women from the draft is constitutional. Learn more
Sandra Day O'Conner is appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, making her the first woman to serve on the court.
Sarah Palin is the first woman to run for Vice President on the Republican party ticket
Sojourner Truth delivers “Ain’t I A Woman” speech
At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, abolitionist and suffragette Sojourner Truth delivers a speech later called the “Ain’t I A Woman” speech. “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?” Hear The Original SpeechProceedings recorded in the Anti-Slavery BugleRead the proceedings of the Woman's Rights Convention of 1851
Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court
South Dakota adopts women's suffrage
Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C is held on the day of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration
Inspired by British activism and marches orchestrated by the Women’s Political Union, the controversial Suffrage Parade of 1913 was planned for the day of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration to attract publicity. Activists attempted to use their support for the Democratic party to ensure passage of a women’s suffrage amendment. Over 8,000 people participated in the march, facing backlash from anti-suffrage counter protesters as they marched. Police opted to not get involved to protect marchers, and a NAWSA leader stated that the police’s involvement had “..done more for suffrage, to establish firmly those who were wavering, and to bring to our ranks thousands of others who would never have taken any interest in it.” Organization leaders were still wary of modern activism tactics despite the perceived success, fearing militancy would compromise future successes. Read more on the tactics of the NWP and the CU
Suffragists present “Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States”
Written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States is denied reading at the Centennial Celebration Program in Philadelphia. Five women go to stage anyway to give document to Senator Thomas Ferry, the official representative of the federal government in President Grant’s absence. After exiting the stage, Anthony read the four-page document to a rapidly growing crowd. She closed her presentation by saying “...We declare our faith in the principles of self-government; our full equality with man in natural rights; that woman was made first for her own happiness, with the absolute right to herself – to all the opportunities and advantages life affords to her complete development... We ask our rulers, at this hour, no special favors, no special privileges, no special legislation. We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.” View document
Susan B. Anthony becomes the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association
Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, founded the Me Too movement. She first used the phrase "Me Too" to raise awareness of the pervasive sexual abuse and assault in society. The term is later used by actress and activist Alyssa Milano, and the movement spread via social media.
Taylor v. Louisiana
The Supreme Court of the United States denies states the right to exclude women from juries. Learn more
Tennessee adopts women's suffrage
The Affordable Care Act is signed into law
The Affordable Care Act requires private health insurance companies to provide birth control coverage without copays or deductibles.
The Anti-Suffrage Party is founded
As the suffragist movement gains support and attention, there are counter movements. Society remains very traditional and largely support the historic role of women as homemakers and men as heads of household. Anti-suffragists argued many women were opposed to suffrage because they took care of the home and children, women did not have time to vote or stay updated on politics and some argued women lacked the expertise or mental capacity to offer a useful opinion about political issues. Many women stated they simply didn’t care about voting rights. View anti-suffrage petition
The Civil Rights Act reaffirms voting rights for all Americans
The Civil Rights Act of 1960 establishes federal inspection of local voter registrations. It aimed to reduce discriminatory practices against minority voters, particularly in the South.
The electric washing machine is invented
Household duties had long been considered 'women's work'. The introduction of electric appliances indisputably made life easier for homemakers. The washing machine was particularly beneficial since hand washing and hanging laundry was a time consuming and arduous task. Household washing machines freed up a large portion of women's time eventually leading to them entering the workforce and participating in the economy on a larger scale. Despite this advancement, the responsibility of chores still fell on working women and mothers, creating a longer workday than their male counterparts.
The Equal Rights Amendment falls short of ratification
The Feminine Mystique is published
Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique, describing the dissatisfaction of suburban housewives. Between 1946-1961, women are distinguished by unique patterns in their life cycles compared to previous years. They tended to live their lives in 3 phases: short time of working or pursuing an education in their late teens and early twenties, raising children full time for about a decade, and then having around 30 healthy adult years with reduced childcare responsibilities. After their children became school-aged, mothers had greater free time and began entering the workforce at record numbers. The Feminine Mystique illustrated the lives and patterns of 'bored homemakers' and became a bestseller, galvanizing the modern women's rights movement.
The first edition of The Revolution is published
The Revolution is a weekly women’s rights newspaper providing updates on current activist efforts and discussions on other women’s issues, including domestic violence, divorce, and reproductive rights. Edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, it becomes the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association, often differing with the publications of the American Woman Suffrage Association. The Revolution’s first motto was “Principle, not policy; Justice, not favors.” and varied in later editions.
The first federal women’s suffrage amendment is presented to Congress
Senator Samuel Pomery introduces Senate Resolution 180, the first federal women’s suffrage amendment to Congress. The amendment proposes that “The basis of suffrage in the United States shall be that of citizenship, and all native or naturalized citizens shall enjoy the same rights and privileges of the elective franchise….” The Senate agrees to let the bill “lie on the table,” but it is never passed.
The first female mayor in America is elected
Susanna M. Salter is elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas, becoming the first woman to be mayor in the country.
The first three editions of History of Women’s Suffrage are published
The first vote on women’s suffrage is held in the Senate and fails.
The Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage reports the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the full Senate in a positive light. Nine years after it is first introduced to Congress, the first vote on the amendment is held, but is defeated 16-34.
The first woman is admitted to a school of science or technology
Ellen Swallow Richards is the first woman admitted to a school of science or technology when she gains entrance to MIT. She is also the first American woman to earn a degree in Chemistry, and upon graduation from MIT she becomes its first female instructor.
The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills
Initially submitted to the FDA for approval only as a treatment for menstrual disorders and infertility, birth control pills are approved explicitly as contraceptives in 1960.
The March on Washington takes place
Hundreds of thousands of Americans take part in the March on Washington to call for racial equality.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is formed
The NAACP aimed to advocate for equal rights and the end of racial prejudice, and to “advance the interest of colored citizens” in voting rights, legal justice, education, and employment opportunities. The association also maintains a support network for activists and is a pillar of the Civil Rights Movement.
The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs is founded
The women’s suffrage movement was as segregated as American society. The racism and sexism Black women were subjected to compounded their oppression, creating a unique experience that was not addressed in mainstream suffrage movements. Due to their exclusion from white suffrage organizations, Black women created their own associations to represent their needs and voices. Harriet Tubman, Margaret Murray Washington, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Frances E.W. Harper founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Club at the First Annual Convention of the National Federation of Afro-American Women in Washington, D.C. The establishment of the NACWC brought together more than 100 clubs for Black women, including the National Federation of African-American Women, the Woman's Era Club, and the National League of Colored Women. Learn more about Black women’s contributions to the suffrage movement
The National Woman’s Party picket the White House
Alice Paul and 96 other suffragists are arrested for obstructing traffic during their demonstration in front of the White House. In protest of their treatment, suffragists go on a hunger strike in jail. Alice Paul is put in solitary confinement in the prison mental ward in an attempt to break the will of protesters. The decision to protest during wartime, as picketing continued after the onset of WW1, was extremely controversial and created a further divide between the NAWSA and NWP. Nevertheless, members of the NWP were determined to hold elected officials accountable and maintain pressure.
The National Woman Suffrage Association is founded
After parting ways with the AERA, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found an exclusively female organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association. This organization worked to secure suffrage through the passage of a constitutional amendment. The NWSA is more radical in their methods and beliefs, compared to other suffrage organizations. View NWSA constitution
The New York State Constitutional Convention is presented with 600,000 signatures for a women's suffrage amendment, which fails to pass.
The NWSA and AWSA merge
The National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is chosen as president. Comprised of state and local suffrage groups, the NAWSA coordinates the national suffrage effort. The NAWSA does not explicitly exclude African-American membership but state and local groups are often segregated. Many members believe the exclusion of Black women from the suffrage movement would increase support by white women across class boundaries. Marches and conventions are segregated as a result of these practices and beliefs. NAWSA Collection of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign
Theodore Roosevelt's Bull-Moose party is the first major national political party to endorse women’s suffrage
The Pentagon lifts the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military
The Stonewall Uprising
The NYPD raid the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay club in New York City. The violent raid sparked a riot among bar-goers and locals in the area, lasting six days. Two transgender women, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, are credited with initiating the uprising and "throwing the first brick". The Stonewall Uprising is widely accepted as the catalyst for the Gay Rights Movement.
The Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized
The Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized
The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act extends coverage to Native American women who are attacked by non-tribal residents, as lesbian women and immigrants.
The Woman’s Bible is published
Written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 women, the publication of The Woman’s Bible results in Stanton being pushed away from the National American Woman Suffrage Association for being considered too radical. The two-part book promoted more than just suffrage, but radical liberation of women through the development of self. It also questioned traditional Christian values, further exacerbating the negative reaction of suffragists.
The Women’s Political Union hosts the first suffrage parade in New York City
In the early 1900s, the suffrage movement had stagnated. National organizations had lost touch with grassroots efforts and were largely occupied with their own internal struggles. The Women’s Political Union mobilized suffragists across class lines; it’s first suffrage parade was successful and eventually established an annual event.
Thirteenth Amendment is ratified
With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States are abolished, except as punishment for a crime. View document
Thomas Paine proposes women's rights in an article for Pennsylvania Magazine
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, was an international bestselling novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe that brought widespread attention to the issue of slavery. Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Seminary and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering enslaved black man around whom the stories of other characters revolve. Read Uncle Tom’s Cabin
United States Constitution is ratified
The Constitution begins with a message of inclusivity: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. However, beyond the preamble, the Constitution didn’t distinguish between people and property, thereby protecting the institution of slavery, and failing to protect the rights of entire peoples, including those of African descent and Native Americans. Furthermore, women were entirely excluded from the polity based solely on their socioeconomic position as parts of households, legally subordinate to husbands and fathers.
United States v. Morrison
The Supreme Court of the United States invalidates the portions of the Violence Against Women Act permitting survivors of rape, domestic violence, and other gender-related crimes to sure their attackers in federal court. Learn more
United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries
The Supreme Court of the United States approves medicinal use of birth control. Information regarding contraceptives is no longer classified as obscene, and federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail is revised. Read more
United States v. Virginia
The Supreme Court of the United States affirms that male only admission policy of the state supported Virginia Military Institute violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Learn more
United States v. Winsdor
The Supreme Court of the United States decides that a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law used widely to discriminate against same-sex couples, is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Same sex marriage is now legal in the United States and recognized by the federal government. Learn more
U.S. Congress appoints Select Committees on Woman Suffrage
The Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage favorably reported a constitutional amendment to the full Senate for its consideration. “We conclude…every reason…which bestows the ballot upon man is equally applicable to the proposition to bestow the ballot upon woman.”, but the Senate did not vote on the measure. View report of the Select Committee on Woman Suffrage
Utah joins the Union with full suffrage for women
Utah territory adopts women's suffrage
Vermont is the first state to legalize civil-unions between same-sex couples
Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to run for United States President
On April 2, 1870, Victoria Woodhull makes national news when she sends a letter to the New York Herald stating her declaration to run for president. In the note, she wrote: "I am quite well aware that in assuming this position I shall evoke more ridicule than enthusiasm at the outset. But this is an epoch of sudden changes and startling surprises. What may appear absurd today will assume a serious aspect to-morrow." Two years later, Woodhull was officially nominated to be the presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party, a political group she helped to organize. Read “Victoria Woodhull Ran for President Before Women Had the Right to Vote”
Washington state adopts women's suffrage
Washington territory adopts women's suffrage
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
The Supreme Court of the United States affirms the right of states to deny public funding for abortions and to prohibit public hospitals from performing abortions. Learn more
Weeks v. Southern Bell
The Supreme Court of the United States rules to relax restrictive labor laws and company regulations on the hours and conditions in which women may work. This decision opens up many previously male-only jobs to women. Learn more
West Coast Hotel v. Parrish
The Supreme Court of the United States upholds Washington state's minimum wage laws for women employed by private entities. Read more
Wisconsin adopts women's suffrage
Wisconsin is the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is founded
Anne Whittenmyer founds the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and later becomes a supporter of women’s suffrage. The alliance between suffragists and prohibitionists proves to be very important in organizing for suffrage, and results in the liquor lobby opposing women’s suffrage.
Women prohibited from voting
Women, initially permitted to vote in some areas during the colonial period and early statehood, are systematically disenfranchised in every state but one through a series of legislative acts beginning in 1777. New Jersey becomes the last of the thirteen original states to revoke women’s suffrage in 1807.
Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor is formed
The agency is formed to collect information about women in the workforce and safeguard working conditions for women. Its mission is "to formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable, employment." Working conditions at the time were hazardous across industries, especially for women and children. Learn more
Women’s Day is celebrated for the first time
The U.S. Socialist Party created a Woman’s National Committee, calling for one day each year dedicated to campaigning for women’s rights. “National Woman’s Day” is celebrated and European Socialist leaders follow suit, and International Women’s Day is formed as a result and falls on March 8th.
Women’s rights restricted
The American colonies adopt the English system of property ownership for married women as stated by Judge John Wilford Blackstone: “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law. The very being and legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated into that of her husband under whose wing and protection she performs everything.” As a result, women cannot own property in their own name or keep their own earnings.
Women’s suffrage amendment proposed in Congress
Referred to as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, S. Res. 12 provides women's suffrage: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on the account of sex.” The next day, suffragists testify before senators on the issue of suffrage for the very first time. The amendment proposed to Congress is the exact same wording as the 19th amendment that passes 41 years later. Report of the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections
Women’s Trade Union League of New York is formed
Mary Dreier, Rheta Childe Dorr, Leonora O’Reilly, and others found the Women’s Trade Union League of New York. The WTUL is the first national association dedicated to organizing working women. They support suffrage and work for unionization- and are extremely successful in accomplishing their goals. Previously, working women hadn't had the ability to actively participate in the suffrage movement. In the early 1900’s, however, working women started to view the right to vote as a necessary tool to achieve their goals in the workplace. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, began recruiting working women from the WTUL and adopted many labor activists’ tactics. This intersection between the two movements later proves to be vital in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Read a speech by Susan B. Anthony illustrating the intersection of the suffrage and labor movements
Wyoming territory is established with provisions for women’s suffrage
Wyoming territory joins the union, becoming the first state to allow women to vote.