Thirty-four years ago this week, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro was selected by Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale to be the first woman ever chosen as a Vice Presidential nominee. This Flashback Friday, we’re taking a look back at Ferraro’s accomplishment and highlighting some other historical female firsts in politics.
First Female Vice Presidential Nominee: Rep. Geraldine Ferraro
Representative Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., was a two-term congresswoman from Queens when she was thrust into the national spotlight as the first female Vice Presidential nominee. She was placed on the ticket with former Vice President Walter Mondale, eventually losing to the incumbent President/VP ticket of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
First Woman elected to Congress: Rep. Jeannette Rankin
Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, R-Mont., was elected to represent one of Montana’s two at-large congressional districts in 1916, becoming the first woman to win a seat in Congress. She served one term in the House before unsuccessfully running for a Senate seat in 1918. She returned to the House in 1940 but chose not to run for reelection two years later after being the only representative to vote against declaring war on Japan.
Since she also voted against declaring war on Germany in 1917, she was the only member of Congress to vote against entering both World Wars.
First woman elected to the Senate: Sen. Hattie Wyatt Caraway
After being appointed to the Senate in 1931 to fill the vacancy created by the death of her husband, Senator Hattie Wyatt Caraway, D-Ark., won a special election in January 1932 to fill the remaining year of the term. Nobody expected her to decide to run for a full six-year term, let alone win the 1932 general election, but that’s exactly what she did. Caraway served two terms in the Senate before retiring in 1945.
While Caraway was the first woman elected to the Senate, she was not the first woman to serve in that body. That honor belongs to Rebecca Latimer Felton, D-Ga., who served one day in the Senate in 1922.
First African-American Woman elected to Congress: Rep. Shirley Chisholm
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., was first elected to the House in 1968, after serving two terms in the New York State Legislature. A native of Brooklyn, Chisholm ran an unsuccessful campaign for President in 1972, winning 10 percent of the delegates at that year’s Democratic National Convention. She retired from Congress in 1983.
First Woman to serve on the Supreme Court: Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Prior to taking her seat on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor achieved another female political first. As a Republican state senator in Arizona, she became the first female majority leader of any State Senate. A prosecutor, a state legislator, and a jurist, O’Connor was elected to the Superior Court of Maricopa County in 1975, with an appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court of Appeals following four years later.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated her to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, to which she was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
First woman Presidential nominee of a major party: Sec. Hillary Clinton
From First Lady to Senator to the State Department, Secretary Hillary Clinton is the woman who came the closest to winning the Presidency. After an unsuccessful Presidential campaign in 2008, the Democrat from New York successfully beat out a small field that included Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to become the first woman to be nominated for President by a major political party.