I was perusing one of my favorite reference books, called THE BOOK OF WOMEN’S FIRSTS; as you might guess, this tome details the names of women who did something first, and yet are not well known for their accomplishments.
Here are a few examples:
The first woman to become a U.S. Marshal (1887).
Theresa West Elmendorf
The first woman to be president of the American Library Association (1911).
The first woman police officer to kill a suspect in the line of duty (1981). (Wouldn't you have thought the date would be earlier?)
Susan R. Estrich
The first woman to be president of the Harvard Law Review (1976).
First woman to win an Oscar for song writing (1937).
Emma R. H. Jentzer
First woman special agent of the Bureau of Investigation (Predecessor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation) (1911).
Arabella Mansfield Babb
First woman to be admitted to the bar (1869).
Cissy Medill Patterson
First woman to publish a large metropolitan daily newspaper (1934).
Hazel Brannon Smith
First woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing (1964).
When Tiny Fey became the third woman to win the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2010, she acknowledged that it's important to take note of the women who did things for the first time--and yet she wished we didn't have to do it. She said, " Apparently, I’m only the third woman ever to receive this
award, and I’m so honored to . . . be numbered with Lilly Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg, but I do hope that women are achieving at a rate these days that we can stop counting what number they are things."
It's a good point, but until we reach that moment when women and men are acknowledged equally for impressive work done (always), I think it's good to take note of women's accomplishments as often as we possibly can.
Do you know any impressive women who were the first to accomplish something great?