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Indiana Commission for Women

ICW > Initiatives > Timeline of Women's "Firsts" Timeline of Women's "Firsts"

The Indiana Commission for Women is often asked for information on women's firsts in Indiana. We have compiled this list from a variety of sources.  However, we know we have left important people off the list.  Can you think of others?  It doesn't have to be in politics...It can be in business, education, nonprofit sector, anything. Just send us a quick email with the name, date and the notable fact to kgarvey@icw.in.gov.  All we ask is that you send us a link to a reliable source so that we can verify and cite the fact.

Date

 Event

 1875

Elizabeth (Bessie) Jane Eaglesfield becomes the first female lawyer admitted to the Indiana bar under a Vigo Circuit Court order and one of the first fifteen women lawyers in the United States

 1895

Helen M. Gougar becomes one of the first women to argue before the Indiana Supreme Court on her own behalf in a case appealing the denial of her right to vote in the 1894 election.  The case was filed in the Tippecanoe Superior Court

 1896

Miss Mary Harry Peacock becomes the first woman admitted to practice before the Indiana Supreme Court

 1920

Indiana Legislature ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote on January 16, 1920

 1920

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified on August 26, 1920

 1920

Julia D. Nelson, of Delaware County, became the first woman to serve in the General Assembly as a member of the House of Representatives

 1920

Mrs. Anna D. Monroe is the first woman to vote in Indiana on November 2, 1920, after the passage of the 19th Amendment

 1921

Adele Ida Storck becomes the first woman admitted to the Indianapolis Bar Association

1921

Catherine Dinklage is elected to the Fort Wayne City Council, becoming the first woman elected to any office in Indiana

 1922  Georgia Blume is elected Allen County recorder
 1923  Elizabeth Rainey of Marion County becomes the first woman officially elected to her seat in the Indiana House of Representatives

 1926

Grace Urbahns is appointed to State Treasurer following the death of her husband and was reelected in 1928 to become the first woman elected to Indiana State Treasurer

 1927

Fern Ale becomes the first woman to serve as secretary of the state senate during the 1927 session of the Indiana General Assembly

 1933

Virginia E. Jenckes unseats a 16-year veteran Congressman to become the first Indiana woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives

 1937

 Virginia Jenckes becomes the first American woman appointed as a delegate to the Interparliamentary Union in Paris

 1942

Arcada Stark Balz became the first woman elected to the Indiana Senate and served until 1946

 1943

Marie Goth is the first woman commissioned to do an official portrait of an Indiana Governor, Governor Henry F. Schricker

 1951

Cecil Harden became first woman member of a House Committee to make an official trip around the world

 1955

Z. Mae Jimison becomes first African-American woman to win an Indianapolis Mayoral Primary

 1957

Mary Jancosek Bercik becomes the first woman to serve as mayor of an Indiana city when she is appointed as Mayor of Whiting, Indiana after her husband dies in office

 1959

After completing her husband's term, Mary Jancosek Bercik went on to seek and win the mayoral office for the next four years

 1961

Dorothy Gardner becomes the first woman to hold the office of Indiana Auditor

 1964

V. Sue Shields becomes the first female trial court judge in Indiana when she was elected to the Hamilton County Superior Court

 1969

Barbara Boyd joins the staff of Channel 6 and becomes the first African-American female reporter

 1972

Julia Carson, the first African-American woman to serve in the Indiana General Assembly, was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives

 1973

Governor Otis R. Bowen enables the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women which lasted for several years but was disbanded after the Governor requested that the responsibility for funding be changed to the legislature.  The legislature did not appropriate funds for the Commission

 1975

Betty Barteau becomes the first woman elected to the Marian Superior Court

 1976

Linda Chazem becomes the first woman to serve as a county court judge

 1978

V. Sue Shields becomes the first female Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals

 1982

Katie Beatrice Hall becomes the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives after being appointed to replace Indiana Democratic Representative Adam Benjamin, Jr., who died suddenly in

 1984

Katie Beatrice Hall becomes first African-American woman elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives

 1984

Sarah Evans Barker becomes the first female federal judge in Indiana when she was appointed to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana

 1988

Z. Mae Jimison becomes the first African-American woman judge in Indianapolis

 1992

By Executive Order 92-15, the Indiana Commission for Women is established

 1993

Pam Carter becomes the first woman elected to Indiana Attorney General

 1994

V. Sue Shields is the first woman appointed as a federal magistrate judge in Indiana

 1994

Dr. Suellen Reed becomes the first woman to serve as Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

 1994

Sue Ann Gilroy becomes the first woman to serve as Indiana Secretary of State

 1995

Myra Selby becomes the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed justice of the Indiana Supreme Court

1996

Effective July 1, 1996, the Indiana Commission for Women received enabling legislation making it a state entity by statute. Sponsored by 16 state senators and 20 representatives, the legislation was co-authored by Senator Becky Skillman and Senator Vi Simpson and co-sponsored in the house by Representatives Susan Crosby and Sue Scholer.

 1998

Sen. Vi Simpson becomes first woman to serve as the caucus' representative on the State Budget Committee (1998 to 2007)

 2002

Una Mae Reck becomes the first female chancellor at Indiana University South Bend on July 1, 2002

 2003

Kathy Davis becomes first woman to be appointed to Indiana Lt. Governor

 2004

Becky Skillman becomes first woman to be elected to Indiana Lt. Governor

 2006

Rep. Phyllis Pond becomes the first female lawmaker to sit in the front row of the Indiana House of Representatives

 2006

Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon becomes Indiana’s first female Hispanic state legislator

 2008

Sen. Vi Simpson becomes the first woman elected as Minority Leader by the Senate Democrat Caucus

 2010

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt is the first African-American federal judge in Indiana history when she is appointed to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana


Citations