Highlighting Women’s History in January


In 1980, a small group of women in Santa Rosa, California, set out on a mission.

Noticing that only a miniscule percent of textbook content was devoted to the achievements and accomplishments of women in the United States, activists Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan set out not to rewrite history, but to ensure it became more inclusive.

The National Women’s History Alliance, formerly the National Women’s History Project, successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month and has since worked to recognize and celebrate the roles women have played in the building and strengthening of the nation. Through the years, the group has received numerous educational awards and honors for its efforts. In 1997, the organization launched an award-winning website to serve as a clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history information. The women’s history highlights for the month of January on the website include:

  • 3, 1949:Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith starts her tenure in the U.S. Senate, where she stays in office until 1973. Smith previously served in the House from 1940-1949, making her the first women two serve in both houses of Congress.
  • 5, 1925:Nellie Tayloe Ross is inaugurated as the first woman governor in U.S. history. She served as the governor for Wyoming.
  • 7, 1896:Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook is published in which she standardized cooking measurements.
  • 7, 1955:Marian Anderson is the first African-American woman to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • 8, 1977:Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray is the first African-American woman ordained to the Episcopal priesthood. She was ordained by Bishop William F. Creighton at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
  • 11, 1935:Amelia Earhart makes the first solo flight from Hawaii to North America.
  • 12, 1932:Arkansas Democrat Hattie Wyatt Caraway is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She becomes the first woman to chair a Senate committee and the first to serve as the Senate’s presiding officer.
  • 25, 1890:Journalist Nellie Bly completes her around-the-world trip in 72 days, six hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds after setting sail east to prove she could circle the globe in less than 80 days.
  • 25, 1980:Mary Decker became the first woman to run a mile under 4½ minutes, running it at 4:17:55.
  • 29, 1926:Violette Neatly Anderson is the first black woman to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court.

For more information on the National Women’s History Alliance, visit nwhp.org.

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