First Woman to Vote - Claimants

Who Was the First American Woman to Vote?

Women voting
Women voting in Wyoming Territory, 1888. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)

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.
  • Lydia Taft, in 1756, was credited with being the first woman to legally vote in the British colonies of the New World, in an 1864 address by Judge Henry Chapin.  Taft voted in town meetings in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

First Woman to Vote in the United States After Independence

Because all unmarried women who owned property had the right to vote from 1776-1807 in New Jersey, 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 legally vote (after independence) is likely lost in the mists of history.

Later, other jurisdictions granted women the vote, sometimes for a 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"all inhabitants" (with property) and thus (unmarried) women the right to vote in its state constitution in 1776, then rescinded this right in 1807. The 1807 bill also rescinded the right of black men to vote. (Married women fell under the rule of coverture and could not vote.)

    First Woman to Vote Legally in the United States After 1807

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

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

    This is another "title" with a lot of uncertainty about who should be credited.

    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.)
    • 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)
    • 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

      Roselle Huddilston ​voted. (Source: Maine Sunday Telegram, 1996)

      First Woman to Vote in Massachusetts

      • Clinton: Jennie Mahan Hutchins (Source: The Mahan Family archives)
      • 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 voted. (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 voted, August 31, 1920, 7 a.m. 

      First Woman to Vote in New Hampshire

      Marilla Ricker cast a vote in 1920, but it wasn't counted.

      First Woman to Vote in New York

      Larchmont, under the Suffrage Act: Emily Earle Lindsley voted.

      (Source: Larchmont Place-Names)

      First Woman to Vote in Oregon

      Abigail Duniway voted, date not given.

      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

      Martha Hughes Cannon, date not given. (Source: State of Utah)

      First Woman to Vote in West Virginia

      Cabbell County: Irene Drukker Broh voted. (Source: West Virginia Archives and History)

      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. Harding voted. (Source: Florence Harding by Carl Sferrazza Anthony)

      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, when New Jersey (unmarried) women could vote on the same basis as men (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.