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First Women Project
New York State’s Political Pioneers

Click to view the first women who held elected office at these various levels of state government:

County
City
Town

Village

History:
In 1918, a year after women won the right to vote in New York State, Ida Sammis (R) and Mary Lilly (D) became the first women ever elected to the New York State Assembly.

Ida was a suffragist from Huntington, Long Island. She challenged incumbent Assemblyman Henry A. Murphy in that June’s Republican primary to represent the 2nd A.D., won the primary and general election. There were more women than men registered to vote in her hometown.

Generations of elected women have applauded Ida’s first act in the state assembly: she took the brass spittoon issued to members, polished it, filled it with roses and transformed it into a vase for her desk.

Like Ida, the first women elected in New York have transformed our politics and governments – from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to our state house, county seats, cities, towns and villages.

The Anthony Center’s First Women project presents the lives and work of these political pioneers as a resource for students and scholars and for citizens looking to be inspired by women’s active commitment to your country's democratic ideals.

US Congress from NYS:
US Senate - Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2001-2009
US House of Representatives - Ruth Sears Baker Pratt, 1923-1933

United States House of Representatives:
First Women by Congressional District - A page for Congresswomen

First Women State Executives of NY:
Governor - a woman has not yet served...
Lieutenant Governor - Mary Anne Krupsak, 1975-1978
Attorney General
- a woman has not yet served...
Comptroller - a woman has not yet served...

First Women of the State Legislature of NY:
State Senate - Rhoda Fox Graves, 1934-1948
State Assembly - Ida Sammis & Mary Lilly, both 1918-1920

First Women Justice of NY Supreme Court:
Fourth Judicial District - Ann Crowell, 2011


For Information:

The First Women Project is a work in progress. We have spent years gathering the information presented here from other websites, clerks, local historians, newspapers and elected women.  But it is not complete. If you are a First Woman, or if you know First Women in our community, please contact us by email at anthonycenter@mail.rochester.edu ; by phone at 585/275-8799, or by mail at:

The Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership
University of Rochester
RC Box 270435
Rochester, NY 14627-0435

If you are a First Woman, please download, complete, and submit
this questionnaire for this website.

View Anthony Center Director Nora Bredes give an introduction to the First Women Project here.