Currently, our database contains biographical records for 2,862 women, who ran in 3,982 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 3,500 campaigns by 1920.

1855

Marietta Patrick and Lydia Hall of Massachusetts were elected to their local school board in 1855.

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 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.

 

Featured Candidates

belva ann lockwood
Belva Ann Lockwood
American attorney, politician, educator, and author.

jeannette rankin
Jeannette Rankin
The first woman in the United States Congress, elected in Montana.

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MAR01 Her Hat Co-founder Wendy Chmielewski Awarded Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics, Honorable Mention
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JUN05 Her Hat Co-founder Wendy Chmielewski Awarded Gilder-Lehrman Fellowship