Famous Firsts in History
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Famous First

Virginia Dare
1587 --- 1st child born in the American colonies, on August 18th, on what is now Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

Anne Bradstreet
1650 --- 1st published American woman writer. The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America

Ann Franklin
1762 --- 1st woman to hold the title of newspaper editor, "The Newport Mercury" in Newport, RI.

James Cook
1773 --- 1st person to cross Antarctic Circle.

John Jay
1789 --- 1st US Supreme Court chief justice.

Frederick Muhlenberg
1789 --- 1st Speaker Of the US House Of Representatives.

Edmund Randolph
1789 --- 1st US attorney general.

George Washington
1789 --- 1st US President (only unanimously elected US president.)

Martha Washington
1789 --- 1st US First Lady.

Samuel Hopkins
1790 --- holder of US Patent #1. Thousands of patents were issued before his, but his was the first when the numbering started. He patented a process for making potash and pearl ashes.

Henry Laurens - Charleston, South Carolina statesman
1792 --- 1st formal cremation in US. He left instructions in his will.

Benjamin Stoddert
1798 --- 1st Secretary of the US Navy.

Thomas Jefferson
1801 --- 1st US president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

Mary Kies
1809 --- 1st woman to be issued a US patent. She was granted a patent for the rights to a technique for weaving straw with silk and thread to make bonnets.

Edward Smith
1831 --- 1st indicted bank robber in the US. He was sentenced to five years hard labor on the rock pile at Sing Sing Prison.

Mary Lyon
1837 --- founded 1st woman's college in US, Mt. Holyoke College.

William Henry Harrison
1841 --- 1st US president to die in office. At 32 days, he also had the shortest term in office.

Tim Hyer
1841 --- 1st recognized boxing (fisticuffs) champion.

Elizabeth Blackwell
1849 --- 1st woman to receive medical degree in US. (from the Medical Institution of Geneva, N.Y.)

Antoinette Brown Blackwell
1853 --- 1st American woman ordained a minister by a recognized denomination (Congregational.)

Charles Blondin
1859 --- 1st person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

William Carney
1863 --- 1st black to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor (on July 18,1863 at Fort Wagner, S.C.)

Mary Walker
1865 --- 1st (and only) woman to receive the US Medal of Honor. She was a Civil War surgeon. Her medal was rescinded in 1916, however, when the Army purged its files to cut down on what they thought were "unwarranted" issues. It wasn't re-instated until 1976.

David Glasgow Farragut
1866 --- 1st Admiral in U.S. Navy.

Lucy Hobbs Taylor
1867 --- 1st woman in the US to become a certified dentist.

Ebenezer D. Bassett
1869 ---1st Black U.S. diplomat, minister-resident to Haiti.

Arabella Mansfield
1869 --- 1st woman lawyer. A year later, Ada H. Kepley, of Illinois, graduates from the Union College of Law in Chicago. She is the first woman lawyer to graduate from a law school.

Jefferson Long
1870 --- 1st black elected to U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia.

Hiram Revels
1870 --- 1st black US Senator. He completed the term of Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, who had resigned to become president of the Confederacy.

Lucy Walker
1871 --- 1st woman to successfully climb the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

Victoria Woodhall
1872 --- 1st woman to run for President of the US.

Jesse James
1873 --- committed the world's first train robbery on July 21. (Adair, Iowa)

Herbert Hoover
1874 --- 1st US President born west of the Mississippi.

Mary Baker Eddy
1879 --- 1st and only American woman to found a lasting American-based religion- The Church of Christ (Scientist).

Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood
1879 --- 1st female lawyer to plead a case before the US Supreme Court.

Mary Mahoney
1879 --- 1st black woman to study and work as a professionally trained nurse.

Moses Fleetwood Walker
1884 --- 1st black baseball player in the major leagues.

Grover Cleveland
1886 --- 1st President married inside the White House.

Susanna M. Salter
1887 --- 1st woman US mayor. (Argonia, KS). She won by a two-thirds majority but didn't even know she was in the running until she went into the voting booth. Her name was submitted by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She died at the age of 101 in 1961.

Oscar Straus
1887 --- 1st Jewish ambassador from US. (Ambassador to Turkey.)

Norman Coleman
1889 --- 1st US Secretary of Agriculture.

Louise Blanchard Bethune
1890 --- 1st woman elected to full membership in the American Institute of Architects.

William Kemmler
1890 --- 1st criminal to be executed by electrocution (in Auburn Prison, Auburn, N.Y., Aug. 6)

Louis Henry Sullivan
1891 --- architect of 10 story Wainwright Building, the 1st skyscraper.

Grover Cleveland
1892 --- 1st (and only) US President to win election to nonconsecutive terms. He defeated Benjamin Harrison.

Myra Bradwell, (nee Colby)
1892 --- 1st female lawyer in US. She qualified for Illinois bar in 1869, but was prevented, due to gender, from being admitted to practice until 1892.

Annie Moore
1892 --- 1st immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. She was 15 years old and from County Cork, Ireland.

Queen Isabella of Spain
1893 --- 1st woman to appear on a US postage stamp.

Frankie Nelson
1896 --- winner of the 1st women's bicycling marathon, which took place on January 6-11, 1896 at Madison Square Garden in New York. She traveled 418 miles.

John J. McDermott
1897 --- winner of the he 1st annual Boston Marathon - the first of its type in the US.

Alexander Winton
1903 --- set the 1st land speed record in car racing. Set at Daytona Beach, his speed was 68.18 mph

May Sutton Brandy
1904 --- 1st American woman to win the ladies singles tennis championship at Wimbledon.

Theodore Roosevelt
1906 --- 1st American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was for helping mediate an end the Russo-Japanese War.

Charles Curtis
1907 --- 1st American Indian to become a US Senator. (Kansas) He resigned in March of 1929 to become President Herbert Hoover's Vice President.

Thomas E. Selfridge
1908 --- 1st airplane fatality. Selfridge, a Lt.in the US Army Signal Corps, was in a group evaluating the Wright plane at Fort Myer, Va. He was up 75 ft. with Orville Wright when the propeller hit a bracing wire and was broken, throwing the plane out of control, killing Selfridge and seriously injuring Wright (Sept. 17).

Alice Wells
1910 --- 1st policewoman in the US.

Ray Harroun
1911 --- 1st winner of the Indianapolis 500 car race. His average speed was 74.59 mph, he finished in 6 hours, 42 minutes, 8 seconds.

Harriet Quimby
1911 --- 1st US woman pilot. (A magazine writer, got ticket No. 37, making her the second licensed female pilot in the world. She was also the 1st woman to fly across the English Channel. She flew from Dover, England and landed at Hardelot, France, in a Bléériot monoplane(April 16). She was later killed in a flying accident over Dorchester Bay during a Harvard-Boston aviation meet on July 1, 1912. )

Arthur R. Eldred
1912 --- 1st boy to reach the rank of Eagle Scout -- the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America program. He was of Oceanside, NY.

Louis D. Brandeis
1916 --- 1st Jewish member of the US Supreme Court. (Appointed by President Wilson).

Jeannette Rankin
1916 --- 1st woman elected to US congress. (Montana) Only legislator to vote against both WW I and WW II.

Lucy Slowe
1920 --- 1st black woman tennis champion in the US. She won the women's singles title at a tournament in Baltimore.

Ethelda "Thel" Bleibtrey - swimmer
1920 --- 1st US woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics. (Margaret Abbott was awarded a porcelain bowl, not a gold medal, in 1900.)

Bessie Coleman
1921 --- 1st US black female pilot. Was killed April 30, 1926, in flying accident.

Margaret Gorman
1921 --- 1st Miss America. She was 16 and 30-25-32.

Henry Sullivan
1923 --- 1st American to swim across the English Channel.

Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr.
1924 --- 1st black to pass US Foreign Service exam.

Nellie Taylor Ross
1925 --- 1st female state governor. (Wyoming)

Gertrude Ederle
1926 --- 1st American woman to swim the English Channel. It took her 14 hours and 39 minutes. (She broke the existing men's record.)

Al Jolson
1927 --- lead role in the 1st talking motion picture, "The Jazz Singer."

Charles Lindbergh
1927 --- 1st man to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Norma Talmadge
1927 --- 1st footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater (now Mann's Chinese Theater.)

Janet Gaynor
1928 --- 1st Oscar winner for Best Actress.

Emil Jannings
1928 --- 1st Oscar winner for Best Actor.

Ellen Church
1930 --- 1st airline hostess. She served passengers flying between San Francisco, California and Cheyenne, Wyoming on United Airlines.

Sinclair Lewis
1930 --- 1st American recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature.

Jane Addams
1931 --- 1st American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Jackie Mitchell - baseball pitcher
1931 --- 1st woman in organized baseball. She was signed by the Chattanooga Baseball Club at the age of 19.

Hattie Caraway
1932 --- 1st woman elected to US Senate.

Amelia Earhart
1932 --- 1st transatlantic solo flight by a woman. (traveling from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours)

Frances Perkins
1933 --- 1st woman in US Presidential Cabinet. (Secretary of Labor under FDR.)

Lettie Pate Whitehead
1934 --- 1st American woman to serve as a director of a major corporation, The Coca-Cola Company.

Wallis Warfield Simpson
1936 --- 1st Time magazine "Woman of the Year."

Jane Matilda Bolin
1939 --- 1st black woman judge. (New York City)

Gene Cox
1939 --- 1st girl page in US House of Representatives.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
1939 --- 1st US president to speak on television. (Spoke at the opening session of the New York World's Fair on April 30, 1939.)

Hattie McDaniel
1940 --- 1st black actress to win an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in "Gone with the Wind".

Booker T. Washington
1940 --- 1st black to be pictured on a US postage stamp. His likeness was issued on a 10-cent stamp.

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini
1946 --- 1st canonized American saint.

Chuck Yeager
1947 --- 1st person to break the sound barrier by flying faster than the speed of sound. (On October 14, 1947, he flew a Bell X-1 rocket at 670 mph in level flight.)

Dick Button
1948 --- 1st American to become World Figure Skating Champion.

Eugenia Anderson
1949 --- 1st US woman appointed ambassador to a foreign country. (Ambassador to Denmark)

Gwendolyn Brooks
1949 --- 1st black woman to win a Pulitzer prize.

Charles Cooper
1950 --- 1st black player in NBA (Fort Wayne Indiana Celtics).

Florence Chadwick
1951 --- 1st woman to have swum across the English Channel in each direction.

George (Christine) Jorgenson
1952 --- recipient of the world's 1st sex-change operation.
Danish artist Einar Wegener underwent a sex change operation in Berlin March 5, 1930. He assumed the identity of Lili Elbe, and had ovaries implanted. It is speculated that Wegener was actually a hermaphrodite, and the credit for first sex change usually is given to Christine Jorgenson.

Patricia McCormick
1952 --- 1st professional woman bullfighter. She got herself two bulls in the contest held in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Lucille Ball
1953 --- appeared on the cover of the 1st TV Guide (April).

Jacqueline Cochrane
1953 --- 1st woman to fly faster than speed of sound. (She piloted an F-86 Sabrejet over California at an average speed of 652.337 miles-per-hour.)

Tenley Albright
1953 --- 1st American to win the Women's World Figure Skating Championship. She was 17-years old when she won the competition in Davos, Switzerland.

Marian Anderson
1955 --- 1st black singer at the Metropolitan Opera. She appeared as Ulrica in Verdi's "The Masked Ball."

Althea Gibson
1957 --- 1st black tennis player to win a Wimbledon singles title.

Julia Child
1958 --- 1st woman designated a full-fledged "Chef."

William O'Ree
1958 --- 1st black hockey player in the NHL. (Boston Bruins)

Ruth Carol Taylor
1958 --- 1st black woman to become a stewardess (now, flight attendant) by making her initial flight this day on Mohawk Airlines from Ithaca, NY to New York City.

Clifton R Wharton
1958 --- 1st black US foreign minister. (Romania)

Hiram L. Fong
1959 --- 1st Chinese-American in US Senate. (Hawaii)

Daniel K. Inouye
1959 --- 1st Japanese-American in US House of Representatives. (Hawaii)

Harry Belafonte
1960 --- 1st black performer to win a Emmy award; he was awarded Best Performance in a Variety Show for his TV special "Tonight with Belafonte."

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.
1961 --- 1st American in space; (Freedom 7). 2nd human in space; member of original Mercury 7.

Janet G. Travell
1961 --- 1st woman to hold the post of Personal Physician to the President. (Appointed by Kennedy)

Roy Claxton Acuff
1962 --- 1st living person admitted to Country Music Hall of Fame.

Joan Crawford
1962 --- 1st guest on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," October 1.

John Glenn
1962 --- 1st US astronaut to orbit earth.

Golda Meir
1964 --- 1st Jewish female prime minister, and 1st female prime minister of Israel, born in America.

Jerrie Mock
1964 --- 1st around-the-world solo flight by a woman.

Sidney Poitier
1964 --- 1st black actor to win an Oscar in a major category. He earned the honor for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role in the film, "Lilies of the Field".

Patricia R Harris
1965---1st black female US ambassador. (Luxembourg)

Edward Higgins White, Jr.
1965 --- 1st American to walk in space.

Robert C. Weaver
1966 --- 1st black in US Presidential Cabinet (LBJ appointed him Secretary of HUD.)

Thurgood Marshall
1967 --- 1st black to become a Supreme Court justice.

Muriel Siebert
1967 --- 1st woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. She was also the nation's first- ever discount broker, and the first woman to serve as Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York.

Carl Stokes
1967 --- 1st black elected as the mayor of a major city. (Cleveland, Ohio)

Louis Washkansky
1967 --- 1st human heart transplant recipient. He lived 18 days with the new heart.

Shirley Chisholm
1968 --- 1st black woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

Neil Armstrong
1969 --- 1st man to walk on the moon.

Barbara Jo Rubin
1969 --- 1st woman jockey to win a race in North America. She was riding Cohesian, at Charlestown Race Course in West Virginia.

Elizabeth P. Hoisington
1970 --- 1st female general in the US armed forces. She was appointed to the post of director of the Women's Army Corps.

Bella Savitsky Abzug
1971 --- 1st Jewish woman in Congress.

Satchel Paige
1971 --- 1st Negro-League player elected to Baseball Hall of Fame.

Berenice Gera
1972 --- 1st female umpire in pro baseball.

Mark Spitz - US swimmer
1972 --- 1st athlete to win 7 Olympic gold medals.

Jean Westwood
1972 --- 1st woman to head the US Democratic Party.

Henry Kissinger
1973 --- 1st Jewish US Secretary of State. He was also the 1st naturalized citizen to hold this office.

Emily Warner
1973 --- 1st female commercial airline pilot in the US. (Frontier Airlines)

Mia Farrow
1974 --- appeared on the cover of the 1st People Magazine.

Richard Milhous Nixon
1974 --- 1st and only US president to resign from office.

Mary Louise Smith
1974 --- 1st woman to head the US Republican Party.

Ellen Burstyn
1975 --- 1st person to win an Oscar and a Tony in the same year. These awards were for her performances in the film "Alice Doesn''t Live Here Anymore" (1974) and the play "Same Time, Next Year."

George Carlin
1975 --- 1st guest host on "Saturday Night Live" which premiered on October 11.

Natalie Cole
1975 --- 1st black to win the Best New Artist Grammy Award.

Ella Grasso
1975 --- 1st woman to become a governor of a state (Connecticut) without a husband preceding her in the governor's chair.

Sarah Caldwell
1976 --- 1st woman to conduct the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Billy Crystal
1977 --- played 1st openly gay main character, Jodie Dallas, on network television on ABC's "Soap," which aired from 1977 to 1981.

Bette Davis
1977 --- 1st female motion picture performer to be honored with the Life Achievement Award of the American Film Institute (AFI), the highest honor given for a career in film. (Since the AFI established this award in 1973, only three other women have been honored since Davis: Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lillian Gish. )

Janet Guthrie
1977 --- 1st woman to qualify and race at the Indianapolis 500.

Jacqueline Means
1977 --- 1st woman to be an ordained Episcopal priest.

Harvey Milk
1977 --- 1st · acknowledged homosexual elected to high local office (San Francisco Board of Supervisors).

Mary Hargrafen (Sister Mary Carl)
1978 --- 1st nun to become a captain in the US Air Force. (Sisters of St. Francis.)

Diana Nyad
1979 --- 1st person to swim from the Bahamas to Florida.

Sandra Day O'Connor
1981 -- 1st female US Supreme Court justice.

Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr. (Guy)
1983 --- 1st black American in space.

Elizabeth Dole (Mary Elizabeth Hanford)
1983 --- 1st female US Secretary of Transportation. Elizabeth Hanford Dole was appointed as the Secretary of Transporation under which the U.S. Coast Guard was located (now under Dept. of Homeland Security), In accordance with Title 10 of the US Code the Coast Guard is one of the five Armed forces of the United States, making Mrs. Dole, the 1st woman Secretary of a branch of the US Military. (see also 1993)

Sally Kristen Ride
1983 --- 1st US woman in space.

Vanessa Williams
1983 --- 1st black Miss America. Williams relinquished her crown during her reign when nude pictures of her were published in "Penthouse" magazine.

Joan Benoit
1984 --- winner of the 1st women's Olympic marathon at the Summer Games, held in Los Angeles.

Geraldine Ferraro
1984 --- 1st woman vice-presidential nominee of a major US political party.

Kathryn Sullivan
1984 --- 1st female US astronaut to walk in space.

Penny Harrington
1985 --- 1st woman police chief of a major city. Head of the Portland, Oregon force of 940 officers and staff.

Libby Riddles
1985 --- 1st woman to win the Iditarod, Alaska's 1,135-mile Anchorage-to-Nome dog sled race. She completed the course in 18 days, twenty minutes and seventeen seconds.

Wilma Mankiller
1985 --- 1st woman to lead a major American Indian tribe. She was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Mary Lund
1986 --- 1st female recipient of an artificial heart.

Christa Sharon McAuliffe
1986 --- 1st teacher selected for the NASA Teacher in Space program. She died, along with the rest of the crew, when the space shuttle Challenger blew up not long after launching.

Oprah Winfrey
1986 --- 1st African-American woman to own her own television production company.

Aretha Franklin
1987 --- 1st female artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Mary R. Stout
1987 --- 1st female president of a national veteran group, named by the Vietnam Veterans of America on August 2, 1987.

Clifton Reginald Wharton, Jr.
1987 --- 1st black to become Chairman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company (TIAA-CREF).

Kurt Browning
1988 --- 1st figure skater to land a quadruple jump in competition.

Gertrude Belle Elion - pharmacologist
1988 --- 1st woman admitted to National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Michael Jordan
1988 --- 1st basketball player pictured on a box of Wheaties cereal.

Penny Marshall
1988 --- 1st woman film director to have a film take in more than $100 million at the box office –– "Big."

Antonia Novello
1990 --- 1st woman and first Hispanic to be named Surgeon General of the US.

Douglas L. Wilder
1990 --- 1st elected black US governor. (Virginia)

Nadine Strossen
1991 --- 1st female president of the ACLU.

Billy Crystal
1992 --- 1st guest on "The Tonight Show," when Jay Leno permanently replaced Johnny Carson as host.

Mae Carol Jemison
1992 --- 1st black woman in space (on the Endeavor.)

Maya Angelou
1993 --- 1st female poet to read a poem at a US presidential inauguration. She read "On the Pulse of Morning," at Clinton's inauguration.

Akebono (Chadwick Haheo Rowan)
1993 --- 1st non-Japanese yokozuna (sumo wrestler.)

Carol Elizabeth Moseley-Braun
1993 --- 1st black woman in US Senate.

Janet Reno
1993 --- 1st female US Attorney General.

Shiela Widnall
1993 --- 1st secretary of a branch of the US military (appointed to head the Air Force)

Eileen Marie Collins
1995 --- 1st female space shuttle pilot. She piloted the space shuttle Discovery during a mission to rendezvous with space station Mir.

Madeleine Albright
1996 --- 1st female US Secretary Of State.

Claudia Kennedy, US Army Major General
1997 --- 1st female US three-star general..

Craig Breedlove
1998 --- 1st person to break the sound barrier in a car, at Lake Bonneville, UT, with a trap speed of over 760 MPH.

Jane Henney
1998 --- 1st woman appointed Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)

Johnathan Lee Iverson
1998 --- 1st black ringmaster in the 129-year history of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (At age 22, also the youngest.)

Carlos Santana
1998 --- 1st Hispanic to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Lt. Kendra Williams, USN
1998 --- 1st US female combat pilot to bomb an enemy target. On Dec. 16, bombed enemy targets over Iraq during Operation Desert Fox.

Eileen Collins
1999 --- 1st woman astronaut to command a space shuttle mission.

Cynthia M. Trudell
1999 --- 1st woman to head a US car company, Saturn Corp

Colin Powell
2000 --- 1st Black secretary of state

Great legs in three weeks

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