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 3,500 campaigns by 1920.
Currently, our database contains biographical records for
women, who ran in
New entries will continue to appear on this site as women are identified and researched.
Belva Lockwood Jeanette Rankin
Marietta Patrick and Lydia Hall of Massachusetts were elected to their local
school board in 1855. Eleven years later woman-suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady
Stanton offered her name as a candidate for the U.S. Congress. In 1871 newspaper
publisher Victoria Woodhull announced as a presidential candidate. 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. In 1887 Susanna
Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas. Colorado elected the first three women
to a state legislature in 1894. Two years later, in Utah, Martha Hughes Cannon
became the first woman state senator.
In the 20th century, the stories of Woodhull and Lockwood and other women
candidates of their era were nearly lost. Even after ratification of the
Nineteenth Amendment and the integration of women into the electoral process, it
continued, and continues, 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 serve in
Congress, as governor, or as mayors of large cities. 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 was not elected to Congress until
1968. The first Hispanic American woman was elected to the House of
Representatives only in 1989 and none has served in the Senate. As of 2013 no
Native American woman has been elected to Congress.