Quiz about Famous Firsts By American Women
Quiz about Famous Firsts By American Women

Famous Firsts By American Women Quiz


Here are ten famous women who were the first to achieve in various fields in the United States of America from the early days of the Colony onwards. NOTE: Look for clues in the questions.

A multiple-choice quiz by Creedy. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
Creedy
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
370,674
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
8 / 10
Plays
1357
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: SUDDAGIRL (9/10), Guest 71 (3/10), Guest 174 (10/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. 1756 saw American colonist, Lydia Taft, becoming the first woman to achieve which remarkable decision making act in an area hitherto only allowed to men? Hint

Starting a Protestant sect
Legally voting at a local area meeting
Having her poetry published
Demanding full rights for women

2. One hates to gossip, but in 1762 Ann Franklin became the first American woman to take control of which business? Hint

Professional writing
Newspaper editor
Printing the Bible in English
Inventing

3. In 1779, Margaret Corbin became the first American woman to receive a pension from George Washington for which service to the nation? Hint

Joining the Marines
Military duties
Medicine
Operating a telegraph

4. In 1848, Maria Mitchell became the first American woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. What was the specialism that earned her this honour? Hint

Medicine
Astronomy
Politics
Orthodontics

5. In 1853, Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first woman in America to be formally qualified for which ethereal profession? Hint

Minister
Comedian
College presidency
Justice of the peace

6. 1869 saw Arabella Mansfield become the first American woman to achieve which benchmark distinction in Iowa? Hint

Professor
Painter
Winning the Congressional Medal of Honour
Law

7. In 1876, Louise Blanchard Bethune became the first American woman to work in which visually appealing field? Hint

Chemistry
Opera
Architecture
Politics

8. 1887 saw Phoebe Couzins become the first American woman to work in which arresting profession? Hint

US Marshal
US President
Opera singing
Acting

9. 1880 rolled around to see American attorney Belva Lockwood take dramatic centre stage where? Hint

US Supreme Court
Penitentiary
Cinema
Wimbledon

10. In 1900, Margaret Abbott became an inaugural American winner of which green Olympic event? Hint

Flying
Horseracing
Golf
Artistic gymnastics


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. 1756 saw American colonist, Lydia Taft, becoming the first woman to achieve which remarkable decision making act in an area hitherto only allowed to men?

Answer: Legally voting at a local area meeting

Lydia Chapin Taft (1712-1788) was the first woman known to have placed a legal vote during the days of colonial America. This happened because Lydia's husband Josiah, a wealthy landowner, taxpayer and legislator, and father of her eight children, died in 1756, leaving her as a well-to-do widow, but without any say in local area taxpaying concerns. The voting issue was raised during a time in history when the landowners and taxpayers in that area were asked to decide whether or not they should financially support the French and Indian War (1754-1763) effort. Four of Lydia's children had died before this time, leaving her with children aged sixteen, six and three. Her eldest son, aged 26, had already left home. Because of the wealth producing, tax-paying properties which became hers as the widow of Josiah Snr, the townspeople voted to give Lydia her husband's proxy vote. She accordingly voted then, and several times afterwards, on matters related to local area landowners and taxpayers concerns, seeing her go down in history as America's first recorded legal female voter.

Of the other choices used for this question:

Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), who had migrated from England to colonial America in 1634 with her husband and their many children, caused such a rumpus in 1635 with her alternative religious views and meetings on same that she was eventually put on trial, convicted, excommunicated and banished from the colony. The family moved to the area we know today as the Bronx, where all but one were eventually massacred by Indians.

Margaret Brent (c.1601 - c.1671), another migrant from England, is considered by many historians today to be an early American feminist because of her campaigning and demands for equality for women in the new colony. By 1647 she was demanding voting rights for women as well. Not that it got her very far. She too was eventually forced to leave the area in which she lived.

In 1630, Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), also moved from England to live in the early colony of America. She became the first female poet to have her works published in the New World. That took place in 1650. Anne's life makes very interesting reading should you be so inclined.
2. One hates to gossip, but in 1762 Ann Franklin became the first American woman to take control of which business?

Answer: Newspaper editor

Ann Franklin, born in 1696, inherited a printing and publishing business from her husband, James, who was the brother of Benjamin Franklin. She went on to become the colony's first female newspaper editor, the first female almanac author, and the first woman writer inducted into Rhode Island university Journalism Hall of Fame. Not only did Ann achieve all that, she continued her work as a printer for other writers as well. In her later years, she handed her business over to her children, looking forward to a comfortable retirement, but when these children all predeceased her, she came out of retirement at the age of 65, and took to the printing and publishing business again until her eventual death in 1763.

Of the other choices used for this question:

By 1784, Hannah Adams (1755-1831) was the first American woman to become a professional writer. Though she had to augment the earnings from her religious and historical writings by teaching as well, it was her pen that has assured her of her place in American history.

Scottish born Jane Aitken (1764-1832), moved to the colony as a young child with her family in 1771. In her later life she took over the family's book binding and printing business. She became, in 1808, the first American woman to print the Bible in English. Poor Jane eventually ended up in debtor's prison for her pains, where no further record of her, until her death, can be found.

In 1809, Mary Kies (1752-1837) became the first American woman to receive a US Patent. This was for her invention of weaving silk and thread to create a strong fabric for the hat making business. At a time in history when women wore hats absolutely everywhere, this invention and subsequent patent should have earned Mary a fortune. Instead, she died penniless, as more astute business people took advantage of her creativity.
3. In 1779, Margaret Corbin became the first American woman to receive a pension from George Washington for which service to the nation?

Answer: Military duties

Margaret Corbin (1751-1800) was that heroic woman from the American Revolution (1775-1783) who took over her husband's place at his cannon after he fell under the onslaught of the Hessian troops at Fort Washington in 1776. She continued firing until she too was seriously wounded, hit in the arm, chest and jaw. She never fully recovered from her wounds, and in 1779, after her case was presented to the Congress Board of War by the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, she was awarded half the monthly pay of a soldier - and a new set of clothes. "Discharged" from the army in 1783, Margaret was supported by the government for the remainder of her life, the first woman in the US to receive a military pension.

Of the other choices used for this question:

Lucy Brewer was the pen name of a woman who wasn't a woman at all, so the story, goes, but a man writing under that name. Lucy's adventures as a United States Marine, detailed in the supposedly true book "The Female Marine" tells of a woman who joined the Marines in 1812 after being cruelly deserted by her lover. During her three years in the service, she served the country nobly, with her true identity never revealed, until she was honourably discharged and found true love at last. A real soap opera that one, it is sadly feared.

Harriot Kezia Hunt (1805-1875) was one of the first American women to become a practising physician. Denied entry to Harvard Medical School, she studied medicine under Richard Mott instead, receiving her papers in 1835. For the remainder of her life, in between treating patients, she campaigned fiercely for the rights of women, including the right to study and practice medicine.

In 1846, one Susan Bagley became the first American to work as a telegraph operator.
4. In 1848, Maria Mitchell became the first American woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. What was the specialism that earned her this honour?

Answer: Astronomy

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) was lucky enough to have Quaker parents who believed that girls should receive the same education as boys. Her father was also a teacher, and an amateur astronomer, and it was from him that Maria developed her love of learning and of the mighty universe. By the age of twelve, she was able to assist him to exactly calculate an annular eclipse. In her adult years, she taught at her own school for a time before being offered work at the Nantucket Atheneum. Her work there would see her discovering a comet which would later be known as Miss Mitchell's Comet, and, in other work, she calculated many exact charts on the positions of the planet Venus. She subsequently became the first woman "elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1848)...the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1850)...and the American Philosophical Society (1869)". In her later life, she became the first Professor of astronomy at Vassar College and the Director of the Vassar College Observatory. What an amazing woman!

Of the other choices used for this question:

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), whose family moved to the States from England in 1828, became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the country she now called home. It was a battle though as she met with resistance everywhere before finally achieving her ambition. Her life makes fascinating reading.

Louisa Ann Swain (1801-1880) of the Wyoming Territory, became, in 1870, the first American woman to vote in a general election. Although it was repealed for a time by the Federal government, that American territory (and later state) was the first to allow women this right. It took until 1920 before the United States granted full voting rights to women throughout the nation.

Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910) became, in 1866, the first American woman to graduate from Dental School. A noble achievement, but one I'd most definitely never desire.
5. In 1853, Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first woman in America to be formally qualified for which ethereal profession?

Answer: Minister

Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921) was the first woman to be qualified as a minister in the United States. That took place in 1853. Antoinette was also a very fine public speaker on many pertinent issues of the time, the least of these being women's rights. The ministerial achievement of this amazing woman would be startling even in today's world, let alone back then, but Antoinette was lucky in that she came from a very supportive family in this regard. Oh, but she had to fight every inch of the way though. In spite of achieving highly in her theology studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, after having to fight to be even admitted there, the college then refused to grant Antoinette her preacher's licence at graduation because she was a woman. She preached anyway in the few places that would accept her, and augmented her meagre income by continuing her exceptionally gifted public speaking skills on other social issues of the day. She was a preacher with a huge flock, but still unrecognised by the church. It wouldn't be until 1878 that she was finally officially recognised as a minister by the American Unitarian Association. For the rest of her life Antoinette continued to combine her love of the Lord, her ministering to her congregations, and her public speaking dedicated to improving the lives and rights of her fellow Americans - regardless of gender.

Of the other choices used for this question:

Frances Willard (1839-1898) was an American educator, suffragist and reformer. In 1871, she became the President of Evanston College, the first American woman to hold such a position. This was just one of the many achievements of this interesting woman's life.

In 1846, Frances Whitcher (1811-1852), who was a very popular writer of prose humour, was the first American woman to become a best selling author in this field. Rather comically so, because she was also a minister's wife, her habit of portraying thinly disguised portraits of his parishioners raised their ire, and her husband lost his job over it. Her keen eye and pen gently satirised the social customs, fashions, courtship and hypocrisy of all she saw about her. She was born to write - and born to create laughter.

Esther Hobart Morris (1814-1902) became, in 1870, the first female Justice of the Peace in the United States. This rather amazing occurrence took place thirty years after the time, when, following the death of her first husband, she wasn't even allowed to inherit or own property in her own right. Pretty astonishing, isn't it? This will make you laugh: Her second husband most definitely did not approve of women's rights however, and created such a scene in one of her court sittings, that the indignant Esther had him promptly thrown in jail.
6. 1869 saw Arabella Mansfield become the first American woman to achieve which benchmark distinction in Iowa?

Answer: Law

Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) became the first female lawyer in the United States when she was admitted to the bar in Iowa in 1869. She achieved this despite the fact that there was a law at the time stating that only men could be admitted to this profession. Arabella challenged that law and won. For the majority of her working life, however, Arabella's career was in college education and administration. So competent at this was she, in the 1890s in particular, that she became dean of two separate establishments.

Of the other choices used for this question:

In 1866, Mary Walker (1832-1919) became the first American woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour. Mary's amazing career included being an abolitionist, feminist, prohibitionist, writer, lecturer, spy, prisoner of war and surgeon. She was awarded the Medal of Honour for her services and bravery during the American Civil War (1861-1865), the only American woman still at 2014, to receive such an honour. In 1917 Congress created a pension for Medal of Honour winners. As a result, 917 names were deleted from the Army Medal of Honour Roll in a shameful, bloody-minded decision. It was not until 1977 that President Jimmy Carter restored Mary's name to its rightful position.

In 1877, Helen Magill White (1853-1944) became the first American woman to earn a doctorate. Helen's Ph.D, earned at the Boston University, was in Greek. She lectured and taught for some years in the field of education following this achievement, until, in 1890, she married US diplomat, historian and founder of Cornell University, Andrew Dickson White, after which she retired from her public career.

Wilhelmina Weber Furlong (1878-1962) was, by 1892, America's first female modernist studio painter. This major American artist blazed the way for many other female artists of the late 1800s and early 1900s to follow.
7. In 1876, Louise Blanchard Bethune became the first American woman to work in which visually appealing field?

Answer: Architecture

Louise Blanchard Bethune (1856-1913) was the first American woman to work as a professional architect. The date of this achievement has been placed at 1876. One of her many, many designs includes the seven story Hotel Lafayette at Buffalo in New York, once considered one of the fifteen finest designs in the country. In 1899, Louise became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She was a trailblazer in other fields as well. She purchased the first bicycle designed for women when it came up for sale in Buffalo, and became a leading member of the Women's Wheel and Athletic Club as a result. Louise was noted for refusing to compete in a top design competition of the day, not because she feared her competitors, but because of the announcement that the winning prize of $10,000 would go to a man, but if a woman won, she would only receive $1,000. Louise's leadership, her inspiration and her encouragement, saw, at her death in 1913, fifty other women working professionally as architects.

Of the other choices used for this question:

In 1878, Emma Abbott (1850-1891) became the first American woman to form her own opera company. Emma was an American soprano and impresario who was born with the gift of a beautiful voice that she developed to its full potential. Her opera company, which she formed with her husband, was highly successful, touring extensively throughout the United States. She was fairly free with her interpretation of some of the great works, however (to my great disapproval), changing, for example, Violetta's haunting farewell aria "Addio del Passato" from Verdi's "La Traviata" into a hearty rendition of "Nearer My God To Thee" instead.

In 1887, Susanna Salter (1860-1961) generated world wide interest when she became the first American woman, not only to be elected mayor of a city, but the first woman elected ever "to any political position in the United States". Her mayoral position was at Argonia, Kansas, a city with a population in 2010 of only 501 people. Still, a mayor is a mayor regardless. For her services to her city, Susanna was paid the princely sum of one dollar.

1873 saw Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) becoming the first American woman to earn a degree in chemistry. She went on to become one of the leading industrial and environmental chemists in that nation. Apart from her notable chemistry qualifications, Ellen was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, its first lecturer, and the first woman, in fact, admitted to any school of science in the US.
8. 1887 saw Phoebe Couzins become the first American woman to work in which arresting profession?

Answer: US Marshal

Phoebe Couzins (1842-1913) was one of the first female lawyers in the USA as well as being the first US Marshal. She seldom worked as a lawyer however, but became a prominent suffragist instead. Phoebe, in 1887, achieved the remarkable feat of leaping over the US male Marshall divide. I'd hate that job myself, but that isn't the point.

Of the other choices used for this question:

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927), became, in 1872, the first woman to run for the position of US President. Oh my goodness, it's a wonder she wasn't run out of town instead. Over her lifetime, she was a spiritualist, a successful magnetic healer, started a newspaper, operated a brokerage firm, went bankrupt twice, and touted the benefits of free love, short skirts and legalised prostitution. Lord bless us all, the times they were a-changing.

In 1899 Eleonora de Cisneros (1878-1934) became the first American born and trained opera singer hired by the Metropolitan Opera. She had an extremely successful follow up life after this, quite possibly because she used her married name professionally. Born Eleanor Broadfoot, that name doesn't seem to conjure up images of romantic aria-trilling heroines somehow, but someone more along the lines of Ma Kettle.

Born in Canada, Florence Lawrence (1886-1938) started performing on stage at the age of three with her vaudeville star mother. This earned her the name "Baby Flo, the Child Wonder". On the death of her father, Florence, then twelve, moved with her mother and two siblings to live in America. There she started her film career in 1906, and by 1910, she was being billed as America's first big movie star, as we understand the term today. By the end of her life, having lost all her fortune in the great stock market collapse of 1929, and no longer a huge star of the silent screen, she was reduced to working in bit parts and as an extra. This will warm your popcorn and your heart: When MGM studio head, Louis B Mayer, realised the plight of all those grand old silent movie stars from the past who were by then reduced to poverty, he took to hiring them for small parts and paying them all a comfortable weekly wage to live upon.
9. 1880 rolled around to see American attorney Belva Lockwood take dramatic centre stage where?

Answer: US Supreme Court

Belva Lockwood (1830-1917) was an American school principal, politician, author and the first female attorney to argue a case before the US Supreme Court. That took place in 1880. She also ran for President of the United States on two separate occasions with the National Equal Rights Party. Belva's journey to the top, from her humble beginnings in a log cabin, took place after the death of her husband when she was only 21. Left with a young baby to support, she realised that education was the key to success in life and she set out on the long road that lay ahead of her to achieve her goals, meeting with so much opposition along the way that it was incredible she achieved all that she did, both personally and for women everywhere. In 1983, Belva was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame to honour those achievements.

Of the other choices used for this question:

May Irwin (1862-1938) was a rather fashionably buxom vaudeville star, singer and film actress who became the first Canadian-American woman to kiss on screen. The floosie! In 1896, that lengthy passionate kiss with actor John C. Rice was captured in the Edison film "The Kiss", making both May and John the first movie actors to portray a cinematic smooch. Oh, that fashionably buxom figures were still the vogue! I'd be a star as well. The kissing can take care of itself.

Marie Owens (1853-1927) was a Canadian-American woman who became the first female police officer in the United States. She worked at the Chicago Police Department from 1891 until 1923, rising to the rank of sergeant.

May Sutton (1886-1975) became, in 1905, the first American woman to win the women's singles title at Wimbledon. May was also a champion basketball player, but it was at tennis that she really excelled. Her many career wins included three Grand Slam singles titles.
10. In 1900, Margaret Abbott became an inaugural American winner of which green Olympic event?

Answer: Golf

Margaret Abbott (1876-1955) was not only the first American woman to win the women's golf in the 1900 Olympics, she was also the first American woman to take part in any Olympic event. That year was the first time women were allowed in the Olympics, but at that stage, they could only play three sports that were considered ladylike. Just as well this is the last question - I'm starting to turn into a feminist. Those sports were golf, tennis and yachting. Interestingly, Margaret's mother also took part in that golf event. She came a tied 7th. By the year 2014, this is still the only time a mother and child have competed together in any Olympic event. How amazing is that?

Of the other choices used for this question:

In 1907, Dorothy Tyler became the first American female jockey to compete and win a horse race against other jockeys. Dorothy, who was the daughter of the retired Mayor of Joplin, Missouri, was fourteen years old at the time. It is believed she was also the first female jockey in the world as well, but this cannot be verified.

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This took place in 1908 and Julia was 89 at the time. She passed away two years later. Julia was a famous poet, playwright, author, abolitionist and activist. She achieved all that without either her husband's knowledge or consent. To say he was rather unhappy when he eventually found out would be an understatement, as, in many of her works, she let it be known how unpleasant and restrictive was her marriage. They separated shortly after, and it was then that Julia also found out that he had spent most of her inheritance in bad investments. Julia's pen also gave the world the beautiful and stirring song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". 4,000 people sang this number at her funeral in 1910.

Harriet Quimby (1875-1912) became, in 1911, the first licensed female pilot in the United States. Harriet, who was a movie screenwriter as well, was also the first woman, in 1912, to fly a plane across the English Channel. That didn't make the headlines that would have occurred under normal circumstances, because the mighty Titanic ocean liner had met its tragic end on the previous day. Harriet died young later that year while competing in a new plane at the Boston Aviation Meet, when the mechanics of the plane suddenly flipped the plane forward at a steep angle. Julia and her passenger both fell out to meet their deaths 1,500 feet below. Eerily, the plane then glided down to lodge in the mud not far from where their bodies were found.
Source: Author Creedy

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