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American Government and Politics

A guide to information resources related to American government and politics.

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Women's Suffrage

Women’s suffragists began to fight for their right to vote in the 1840s. When the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920, women finally gained the right to vote.

The National Archives has some primary sources relating to women's suffrage.

The National Park Service has a list of 20 suffragists to know.

Our Learning Guide on Women's History has further information on individual suffragists.

Groundbreaking Women in Politics

Critiquing Leaders: The more we learn, the more we must think intersectionally about leaders and movements. We can honor a leader's accomplishments and still recognize where their work was not done well or equitably. 

History is filled with many pioneering women who made their mark in politics. Some are discussed below.

  • In 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first woman to run for the House of Representatives, although she was not able to vote at the time.
  • In 1887, Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas, becoming the first woman mayor elected in the United States.
  • In 1916, Jeannette Rankin was elected to serve Montana in the House of Representatives, becoming the first woman to serve in Congress.
  • In 1968, Shirley Chisholm was elected to serve New York in the House of Representatives, becoming the first Black woman to serve in Congress.
  • In 1981, Sandra Day O’Conner was appointed to the Supreme Court, becoming the first woman to sit on the Court.
  • In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first woman to serve as Secretary of State.
  • In 2007, Nancy Pelosi because the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.
  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be the nominee of a major party in a presidential election.
  • In 2020, Kamala Harris was elected as the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American Vice President. 

Milestones for Women in American Politics is an interactive timeline produced by Rutgers and the Center for American Women in Politics.

The Center for American Women in Politics features a great deal of information about women in politics, including information on candidates and women voters.

Women in Congress is an exhibit from the History, Art, & Archives office of the House of Representatives that provides profiles and historical information about women in Congress.

Status of Women in the States includes information about women's political participation throughout the United States.

Women in Politics