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Currently, our database contains biographical records for 3,816 women, who ran in 5,200 campaigns.

This web site identifies women candidates for elective office in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, giving biographical information for each woman, information about her campaign, party affiliation, photographs,and lists of selected resources. We estimate that women ran in well over 7,000 campaigns by 1920.

1853

Olive Rose of Lincoln County, Maine was elected County Recorder of Deeds.

1866

Eleven years later woman-suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton offered her name as a candidate for the U.S. Congress.

1871

Newspaper publisher Victoria Woodhull announced as a presidential candidate.

1884

Belva Lockwood ran a full campaign for the U.S. presidency in 1884 and again in 1888. Beginning in the 1870s, lesser-known women were drawn to politics through the suffrage, temperance, and progressive movements and ran, often in highly contested elections, for a wide variety of political offices.

1887

In 1887 Susanna Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas.

1894

Colorado elected the first three women to a state legislature in 1894.

1896

In Utah, Martha Hughes Cannon became the first woman state senator.


20th and 21st Century

In the 21st century, the stories of early women candidates have nearly been lost. Even after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and the integration of women into the electoral process, it continued to be a struggle for women to get elected to public office beyond the local level. Many states have yet to elect a woman to high office. For women of color the opportunity to serve in elective office at the national level has come slowly. Patsy Mink, from Hawai'i, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964; and in 2012 Hawai'i elected the first Asian-American woman to the Senate. The first African-American woman representative, Shirley Chisholm was not elected to Congress until 1968. The first Hispanic American woman was elected to the House of Representatives only in 1989. There were strides the 2018 elections to Congress: the first two Native American women were elected, one of them, Sharice Davids, is openly a lesbian; and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were the first Muslim American women.

 

Featured Candidates

Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon
Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon
Physician, first woman elected as a state senator, Utah, 1896

jeannette rankin
Lucy Flower
Educator, first woman elected to a state-wide office in Illinois, 1894

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Recent Updates

NOV6 Win or Lose, Tuesday’s Primaries Are a Big Deal for Women
DEC3 Statue of Shirley Chisholm for Brooklyn in 2020
JAN3 Nancy Pelosi, 2nd term as Speaker of the House
JAN4 Youngest Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez caught dancing!