Somebody has to be first. Or, rather, lots of people have had to be first at lots of things. And on Thursday night, with her official acceptance of the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, Hillary Clinton added one more “first” to her résumé: first woman to ever become the nominee for President of the United States for a major political party.
It was, as Clinton herself put it earlier in the week, the biggest crack yet in the glass ceiling.
In the 240 years since the founding of the United States, countless other have joined the “first woman in America to” club. Many of those firsts have been forgotten by history. Others, however, were recorded and remembered. Any list of them will, by necessity, be partial. The list includes the woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Revolutionary War. The list includes the woman who was elected to Congress even before women were guaranteed the right to vote. The list includes politicians, artists, explorers, fighters, doctors and many more—just a few of whom are shown above.
Of course, many women who might have been first at something were, through no fault of their own, unable to do so. Laws, customs and prejudices can overlap and contradict, so a “first woman in America to…” list looks a lot like a “first white woman in America to…” list, at least when it comes to the firsts that were recorded at the time for posterity. But a list of the first women of the American future, rather than the past, will likely look a lot different.
And that’s the other thing about this list: it just keeps growing.