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ALTHEA GIBSON: The first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis and th efirst person of color to win a Grand Slam title in 1956.
ALTHEA GIBSON became the first person of color to win the French Open—one of the Grand Slam tournaments—in 1956.Bettmann—Getty Images
ALTHEA GIBSON: The first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis and th efirst person of color to win a Grand Slam title in 1956.
AMELIA EARHART: The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean, 1928.
EDITH WHARTON: The first woman in America to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction, 1921.
FRANCES PERKINS: First female member of a presidential cabinet (FDR's Secretary of Labor), 1933.
GERALDINE FERRARO: First female vice presidential candidate representing a major American political party, 1984.
JACQUELINE COCHRAN: First woman to break the sound barrier, 1953.
JEANNETTE RANKIN: First woman to be elected to congress, 1916.
JUNKO TABEI: First woman to climb Mt. Everest, 1975.
KATHARINE GRAHAM: First female Fortune 500 CEO, as CEO of the Washington Post, 1972.
KATHY SWITZER: First woman to run the Boston marathon, 1967.
LORETTA PERFECTUS WALSH: First woan to enlist in the U.S. Navy, 1917.
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE: First female war correspondent, 1941.
MARIE CURIE: first woman to win a Novel prize in Physics, 1930, and Chemistry, 1911.
PATSY MINK: First Asian-American woman in Congress, 1965.
PEARL S. BUCK: First woman to win the Nobel prize in Literature, 1938.
REBECCA FELTON: First woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, 1922.
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: First woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, 1981.
MADAM C.J. WALKER (BORN SARAH BREEDLOVE) became the first female self-made millionaire in America in 1919.
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM: First African-American woman in Congress, 1969.
VALENTINA TERESHKOVA: First woman in space (Russian), 1963.
VICTORIA WOODHULL: First female to run for the President of the U.S., 1870.
WALLIS SIMPSON: First woman Person of the Year for TIME Magazine, 1937.
ALTHEA GIBSON became the first person of color to win the French Open—one of the Grand Slam tournaments—in 1956.
Bettmann—Getty Images
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22 Women From History Who Were 'Firsts' in Their Fields

Sep 07, 2017

The launch of Firsts, a new TIME multimedia project, is a moment to celebrate women who broke ground in their fields — from the arts and politics to the world of science and the military. It's thus an apt moment to celebrate the countless women who played pioneers in history.

Just a small sampling of them can be seen in the gallery above. There's Jeannette Rankin, who was the first woman ever elected to U.S. national office — even before the 19th Amendment gave women across the country the right to vote. There's Sarah Breedlove Walker, who turned her business savvy into an incredible record as the nation's first woman to become a self-made millionaire. There's Margaret Bourke-White, of LIFE Magazine, who, among her many photographic firsts, was the first woman to be accredited to cover World War II combat with her camera.

And the list goes on.

We encourage you to share your favorite stories of female firsts from history with us on Twitter at @LIFE and @TIMEHistory. In addition, we're continuing to collect your stories of the groundbreaking women in your own life. If you know a woman or a girl who has been a "first" in ways big or small, share your photos and stories with us using the hashtag #SheIsTheFirst and we may feature you in TIME.

Watch Firsts, featuring candid interviews with groundbreaking women from Oprah Winfrey to Madeleine Albright to Sheryl Sandberg, at time.com/firsts

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