In July we celebrate essential democratic anniversaries — the birth of the United States on July 4, 1776 and the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement on July 19-20, 1848.

Anniversary of the First Women’s Rights Conference (July 19 and 20) 

On July 19-20, 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott spearheaded the first women’s rights convention in American History.  Over 300 women and men came to Seneca Falls, New York to protest the mistreatment of women in social, economic, political, and religious life.  This marked the first public meeting calling for women’s right to vote. 

July Women’s History Events

  • July 2, 1979 – The Susan B. Anthony dollar is released  
  • July 2, 1937 – Amelia Earhart’s plane is lost in the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island  
  • July 2, 1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act; Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in employment   
  • July 4, 1876 – Suffragists crash the Centennial Celebration in Independence Hall to present the Vice President with the “Declaration of the Rights of Women” written by Matilda Joselyn Gage 
  • July 6, 1957 – Althea Gibson is the first African American woman player to win a Wimbledon title in women’s tennis singles  
  • July 7, 1981 – President Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman Supreme Court Justice?
  • July 12, 1984 – Representative Geraldine Ferraro (D-New York) is chosen as the first female to run for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket with Walter Mondale (D-Minnesota)  
  • July 14, 1917 – 16 women from the National Women’s Party were arrested while picketing the White House demanding universal women’s suffrage; they were charged with obstructing traffic  
  • July 19-20, 1848 – The Seneca Falls Convention, the country’s first women’s rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York Women’s Rights Movement 
  • July 20, 1942 – The first class of Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) begins at Fort Des Moines, IA 
  • July 29, 1974. “Philadelphia Eleven” deacons (Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Alison Cheek, Emily Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne Hiatt, Marie Moorefield, Jeannette Piccard, Betty Schiess, Katrina Swanson, and Nancy Wittig) ordained as the first women Episcopal priests

July Birthdays

  • July 1, 1895 (1997) – Lucy Howorth, attorney, U.S. magistrate, legislator, suffragist, held positions in federal agencies during the 1930s and 1940s 
  • July 1, 1904 (1998) – Mary Steichen Calderone, physician and sex educator, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood (1953-1964), principal founder and president of Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (1964) 
  • July 1, 1915 (1979) – Jean Stafford, writer of short stories and novels, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1970
  • July 1, 1916 – Olivia de Havilland, actress, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946 and 1949, played Melanie in “Gone With the Wind” 
  • July 1, 1931 – Leslie Caron, actress and dancer, starred in “An American in Paris” (1951) and “Gigi” (1958), wrote autobiography “Thank Heaven” in 2010
  • July 1, 1941 – Twyla Tharp, dancer and choreographer, widely-honored founder of Twyla Tharp Dance company (1965; merged with American Ballet Theatre in 1988), which expanded boundaries of ballet and modern dance 
  • July 2, 1922 (1987) – Eleanor Leacock, cultural anthropologist, studied the Native North Americans, and issues of gender and class, racism, and poverty July 3, 1908 – author of 31 books on culinary arts, travel, and memoirs, founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library in California
  • July 4, 1898 (1997) –Dr. Pilar Barbosa de Rosario, historian and teacher, first woman to teach at University of Puerto Rico (1921), established the history and social studies departments there, named official historian of Puerto Rico in 1993
  • July 4, 1918 (2013) – Pauline Esther Friedman, also known as Abigail Van Buren, was an American advice columnist and radio show host who began the “Dear Abby” column in 1956
  • July 5, 1899 (1990) – Anna Hedgeman, civil rights activist and educator, first African American woman to serve in the cabinet of the New York mayor (1954-58), helped plan the 1963 March on Washington  
  • July 7, 1861 (1912) – Nettie Stevens, biologist, discovered X and Y sex chromosomes  
  • July 7, 1908 (1986) – Harriette Simpson Arnow, writer and educator, author of “The Dollmaker” (1954), writer with the Federal Writer’s Project of the WPA (1934-39) 
  • July 7, 1915 (1998) – Margaret Walker, poet and novelist, her poem “For My People” (1942) won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, wrote novel “Jubilee” in 1966 
  • July 8, 1902 (1981) – Gwendolyn Bennett, Harlem Renaissance poet, short story writer and artist, wrote a column “The Ebony Flute” for the journal “Opportunity,” co-founder of “Fire!!” a literary journal   
  • July 8, 1926 (2004) – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, writer and lecturer, developed techniques for counseling the dying and their families  
  • July 10, 1875 (1955) – Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, served as Minority Affairs Advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt  
  • July 10, 1882 (1975) – Ima Hogg, Texas philanthropist, patron of the arts, supporter of mental health and child welfare organizations, and savior of many historic structures 
  • July 10, 1891 (1982) – Edith Quimby, biophysicist, pioneer in the use of radiation in medicine and the development of standards for radiation protection 
  • July 10, 1910 (1998) – Mary Bunting, microbiologst, president of Radcliffe College (1959-72), oversaw the integration of Radcliffe into Harvard, founded the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe which helped women return to careers after family obligations, first woman on the Atomic Energy Commission
  • July 10, 1933 (1989) – Jan DeGaetani, versatile mezzo-soprano and an outstanding teacher at the Aspen Music Festival and the Eastman School in Rochester 
  • July 13, 1910 (1983) – Josefina Niggli, playwright, moved to North Carolina from Mexico after penning prize-winning short stories; wrote first novel, Mexican Village, in 1945, later wrote television scripts including “The Twilight Zone” 
  • July 14, 1911 (1998) – Gertrude Goldhaber, physicist, an early researcher into nuclear structure and the properties of nuclei, the third woman to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1972) 
  • July 14, 1916 (1988) – Muriel Snowden, civil rights worker, co-founded Freedom House (1949) with her husband in Boston as a community organization to promote self-sufficiency and social justice 
  • July 15, 1899 (1990) – Estelle Ishigo, artist, joined her Japanese-American husband in a Wyoming internment camp during WWII, made sketches of her experience for the War Relocation Authority, published “Lone Heart Mountain” in 1972 chronicling her internment
  • July 15, 1923 (1995) – Connie Boucher, artist, helped start the charactermerchandising industry by licensing characters such as Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” and Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”   
  • July 16, 1821 (1910) – Mary Baker Eddy, founded the Church of Christ, Scientist  
  • July 16, 1862 (1931) – Ida B. Wells-Barnett, journalist, newspaper editor, crusader against lynching, and civil rights leader  
  • July 16, 1907 (1990) – Barbara Stanwyck, actress, started as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1922, worked on stage, and most notably in movies and television, highest paid woman in the United States in 1944 
  • July 16, 1911 (1995) – Ginger Rogers, actress and dancer, partnered with Fred Astaire, won Academy Award for “Kitty Foyle” (1940) 
  • July 17, 1898 (1991) – Berenice Abbott, photographer, artist, teacher, and writer, famous for her portraitures, documenting the architecture of New York, and science photography  
  • July 17, 1908 (1987) – Carmelita Maracci, dancer, choreographer, and teacher,created a blend of ballet and Spanish dance techniques 
  • July 18, 1892 (1980) – Doris Fleischman Bernays, first married woman to gain a U.S. passport in her maiden name (1925), writer and editor for the “New York Tribune,” and publicist
  • July 18, 1908 (1981) – Mildred Ryder, adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” in 1953, a peace activist who was the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail in one season, walked more than 25,000 miles promoting peace for 28 years
  • July 19, 1902 (1983) – Anna Marie Rosenberg, an assistant secretary of defense (1950 – 1953), served in many other government positions
  • July 21, 1856 (1913) -Louise Bethune, first American woman to work as an architect in 1881
  • July 21, 1905 (1996) – Diana Trilling, literary critic and author, compiled her feminist essays in“We Must March My Darlings” (1977) 
  • July 21, 1938 – Janet Reno, first woman to serve as U. S. Attorney General (1993 – 2001, under President Clinton), attorney
  • July 22, 1849 (1887) – Emma Lazarus, poet, wrote “The New Colossus,” (1883), which was later inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
  • July 22, 1898 (1976) – Miriam Underhill, mountaineer and environmentalist, in first all-women ascent of the Matterhorn in 1932, developed “manless climbing,” which means all-women climbing groups
  • July 23, 1844 (1929) – Harriet Strong, agriculturist, inventor, patented water storage dams  
  • July 23, 1892 (1984) – Icie Hoobler, biochemist and physiologist, first woman to head a local section of the American Chemical Society and to serve as its national president, Director of the Research Laboratory of the Children’s Fund of Michigan
  • July 23, 1917 (1984) – Barbara Deming, influential nonviolent activist, writer and poet, marched for peace, civil rights, women’s rights and lesbian and gay rights  
  • July 23, 1928 (1999) – Ruth Whitney, ground-breaking editor of “Glamour” magazine for 31 years (1967 – 1998), among the first editors to introduce relevant social topics to a woman’s magazine, and decided to feature the first AfricanAmerican on the cover (1968)
  • July 24, 1920 (1998) – Bella Abzug, lawyer, political activist,U.S. Congressional Representative from New York (1973-77), initiated proposal for Women’s Equality Day  
  • July 24, 1897 (1937) – Amelia Earhart noted aviation pioneer and author, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Hawaii to the mainland
  • July 27, 1891 (1980) – Myrtle Lawrence, sharecropper and labor organizer, worked within biracial Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union from 1936 to 1943, honored on the 1976 Bicentennial Freedom Train Exhibition
  • July 27, 1906 (1994) – Helen Wolff, editor and publisher, published many acclaimed translations under the imprint “A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book” at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, founded Pantheon Books with her husband in 1942
  • July 28, 1879 (1966) – Lucy Burns, suffragist, formed National Woman’s Party with Alice Paul, picketed the White House for women suffrage and arrested 6 times  
  • July 28, 1929 (1994) – Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, First Lady (1961-63), photographer and book editor, established White House Historical Association  
  • July 29, 1896 (1986) – Maria L. de Hernandez, Mexican-American activist,helped found several community organizations
  • July 29, 1903 (1989) – Diana Vreeland, legendary fashion icon, born in Paris, columnist (1936) and then fashion editor at “Harper’s Bazaar” until 1962, editor in chief at “Vogue” from 1962 to 1971 
  • July 29, 1905 (1994) – Mary Roebling, first woman president of a major bank (1937), first woman governor of theAmerican Stock Exchange (1958-1962), and helped establish the first nationally-chartered bank founded by women (1978) 
  • July 29, 1932 – Nancy Kassebaum Baker, U.S. senator from Kansas (1978-1997), first woman to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate, instrumental in creation of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve 
  • July 29, 1936 – Elizabeth H. Dole,U.S. Senator from North Carolina (2003-2009), first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of Transportation (1983-1987), also served as U.S. Secretary of Labor (1989-1990), becoming the first woman to hold two different cabinet positions under two different presidents, and she was also president of the American Red Cross (1991-1999)  
  • July 30, 1939 – Eleanor Smeal, women’s rights activist, co-founder and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation (1987) and publisher of Ms. Magazine, president of National Organization for Women (1977-1982 and 1985-1987)  
  • July 30, 1940 – Patricia Schroeder, U.S. Representative from Colorado (1973-1997), first woman to serve in U.S. Congress from Colorado, first woman on the House Armed Services Committee, promoted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (1997-2008) 
  • July 31, 1879 (1978) – Margarete Bieber,art historian and professor of art and archaeology, second female university professor in Germany (1919) before immigrating to the U.S., taught at Barnard College and Columbia University, published numerous academic texts, named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1971 
  • July 31, 1924 (2010) – Geraldine Hoff Doyle, possibly the model for the World War II “We Can Do It” poster which came tosymbolize Rosie the Riveters, women who worked in factories to support the war effort

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Women’s Rights and Women’s Equality Day Resources