Maine: An Encyclopedia

Women, Firsts

Some Maine women traveled elsewhere to make an impact on society. But on September 13, 1920, those in Maine were the first to exercise their vote under the 18th Amendment, since the state held its general elections earlier than other states until 1960.  Women have held important leadership roles, recognized by the Maine legislature in 2013.

With the election of 2008, which brought Chellie Pingree to the U.S. House of Representatives, Maine became the first state to have a women as a majority of its congressional delegation.  The other members were U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The following women were residents of Maine when they achieved historic firsts in cultural, government, and political affairs. Women’s influence in the Maine State Legislature has grown substantially since 1820.

Year First woman to . . . Who?
1849 climb Mount Katahdin Elizabeth Oakes Smith
1872 be admitted to practice law in Maine Clara Hapgood Nash
c.1890 be elected assessor in Maine, Dennistown Plantation Octavia Moulton Graffte
1901 receive an honorary degree from Bowdoin College Sarah Orne Jewett
1915 graduate from the University of Maine School of Law Ada M. Gleszer
1921 serve as President of the U.S. League of Women Voters Maud Wood Park
1923 serve in the Maine State Legislature, the House of Representatives Dora B. Pinkham
1927 serve in the Maine Senate (along with Dora Pinkham) Katherine C. Allen
1929 serve in the Maine Legislature as a lawyer Gail Laughlin
1932 argue a case before the Maine Supreme Court (she won) Alice Parker
1938 serve as a national bank president, the Limerick National Bank Frances Estelle Moulton
1948 be elected to the U.S. Senate without first having been appointed to complete another’s term Margaret Chase Smith
1959 become a member of legislative leadership, as House Minority Leader Lucia Cormier
1960 challenge another woman (Margaret Chase Smith) in a U.S. Senate election Lucia Cormier
1961 be elected to the resident faculty at the 150 year old Bangor Theological Seminary Rev. Clarice H. Bowman
1971 graduate from Bowdoin College Susan D. Jacobson
1973 preside in a Maine courtroom, in this case the Maine District Court Harriet Putnam Henry
1976 graduate from a four-year maritime college, Maine Maritime Academy Deborah Doane Dempsey
1976 be elected Secretary of the Maine Senate May Ross
1980 be elected to the French Academy Marguerite Yourcenar
1981 serve as President of a University of Maine System campus. Constance Carlson
1983 serve on the Maine Supreme Court Caroline Glassman
1987 be elected Maine Senate Majority Floor Leader Nancy Randall Clark
1994 be nominated, as the Republican candidate, for governor by a major political party Susan Collins
1997 serve as Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Elizabeth Mitchell
1997 be elected to a constitutional office, State Treasurer Dale McCormick
2001 become Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court Leigh I. Saufley
2002 become President of the Maine Senate Beverly C. Daggett
2009 become Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills
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This entry was last modified: March 10, 2014 02:19 PM

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