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First Woman to Vote - Claimants

Who was the first American woman to vote?

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An often-asked question: who was the first woman to vote in the United States, the first female voter?

First Woman to Vote in America

If that includes "in the area that later became the United States," there are some candidates.

Some Native American women had rights to voice and what we might now call a vote, before European settlers arrive. The question usually refers to women voters in the new governments established by European settlers and their descendants.

European settlers and their descendants? The evidence is sketchy. Women property-owners were sometimes given and sometimes exercised the right to vote during colonial times.

  • In 1647, Margaret Brent of Maryland colony assumed her right to vote twice -- once for herself as a property owner and once for Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, because he had given her a power of attorney. The governor denied her request.
  • Deborah Moody, in 1655, cast a vote in New Netherlands (which later became New York). She had the right to vote because she had a land grant in her own name.

First Woman to Vote in the United States After Independence

Because women in New Jersey had the right to vote from 1776-1807, and there were no records kept of what time each voted in the first election there, the name of the first woman in the United States to vote (after independence) is likely lost in the mists of history.

Later, other jurisdictions granted women the vote, sometimes for limited purpose (such as Kentucky allowing women to vote in school board elections beginning in 1838).

Here are some candidates for the title of "first woman to vote":

  • Unknown. New Jersey gave "all inhabitants" and thus women the right to vote in its state constitution, 1776, then rescinded this right in 1807. The 1807 bill also rescinded the right of black men to vote.

First Woman to Vote Legally in the United States After 1807

  • September 6, 1870: Louisa Ann Swain, Laramie, Wyoming. (source: "Women of Achievement and Herstory," Irene Stuber)

First Woman to Vote in the United States After Passage of the 19th Amendment (Suffrage Amendment)

More Candidates for "First Woman to Vote"

Some other candidates for "first woman to vote" -- in a state, in a county, in a locale, as specified (the American claims are organized by state, with some special claims highlighted at the end):

First Woman to Vote in California

  • 1868: Charley "Parkie" Parkhurst who voted as a man (source: Highway 17: The Road to Santa Cruz by Richard Beal.)

First Woman to Vote in Illinois

  • Ellen Annette Martin, 1869. (Source: Early Illinois Women timeline, Alliance Library System, Illinois. Link no longer working.)
  • in a municipal election in Illinois: Clara Colby. (Source: Illinois General Assembly resolution 90_HR0311)

First Woman to Vote in Iowa

  • Clarke County: Mary Osmond, October 25, 1920. (Source: Clarke County, Iowa, Genealogy, Osceola Sentinel, 28 October 1920)
  • Union Township: Mrs. O.C. Coffman (source: Fluxus Indian Museum)

First Woman to Vote in Kansas

  • General Election in Kansas: name not given (source: Kansas State Historical Society timeline, from "First Woman to Vote at a General Election in Kansas," November 4, 1880. (More on women's vote in Kansas.)
  • Lincoln County: Mrs. Anna C. Ward (source: A Souvenir History of Lincoln County, Kansas, by Elizabeth N. Barr, 1908.)

First Woman to Vote in Maine

First Woman to Vote in Massachusetts

  • Clinton: Jennie Mahan Hutchins (source: The Mahan Family archives, no longer online)
  • Concord: In 1879, Louisa May Alcott registered as the first woman to vote in the Concord school committee election (source: Library of Congress)

First Woman to Vote in Michigan

  • Nannette Brown Ellingwood Gardner (source: Michigan Historical Collections) - sources are unclear whether Gardner voted, or recorded that Sojourner Truth voted.

First Woman to Vote in Missouri

  • Mrs. Marie Ruoff Byrum, August 31, 1920, 7 a.m. - see article

First Woman to Vote in New Hampshire

  • Marilla Ricker: cast a vote in 1920, but it wasn't counted (source no longer online)

First Woman to Vote in New York

  • Larchmont, under the Suffrage Act: Emily Earle Lindsley (source: Larchmont Place-Names, no longer found online)

First Woman to Vote in Oregon

  • Abigail Duniway

First Woman to Vote in Texas

  • Bexar County, 1918: Mary Eleanor Brackenridge registered to vote. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)
  • Dallas County, 1944: Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft became the first black woman to vote in the county. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)
  • Harris County, June 27, 1918: Hortense Sparks Ward registered to vote. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)
  • Panola County: Margie Elizabeth Neal registered to vote. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)
  • San Antonio: Elizabeth Austin Turner Fry. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)

First Woman to Vote in Utah

First Woman to Vote in West Virginia

First Woman to Vote in Wyoming

  • September 6, 1870: Louisa Ann Swain, Laramie, Wyoming. (source: "Women of Achievement and Herstory," Irene Stuber)
  • 1869, unnamed. A likely misunderstanding: women were given the vote in December, 1869, but it's unlikely an election was held that year after suffrage was granted.

First American Woman to Vote for Her Husband as President

  • Florence Harding, Mrs. Warren G. Hardi ng. (source: Florence Harding by Carl Sferrazza Anthony - [ compare prices])

Sacagawea - First Woman to Vote?

  • She voted on decisions as a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. This was not an official election, and in any case, was after 1776 where New Jersey women could vote (Sacagawea, sometimes spelled Sacajawea, was born about 1784).

Susan B. Anthony - First Woman to Vote?

  • November 5, 1872: Susan B. Anthony and 14 or 15 other women voted in a Presidential election, having registered to vote in order to test the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Anthony was tried in 1873 for illegally voting. ( more)

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