circa 8000 B.C.
Creation legends in the Tuscarora, Algonquian, Cherokee, Siouan, and Catawba cultures
identify women in four significant roles: life givers, intermediaries between the natural and
spiritual worlds, indispensable components of the earth and its processes, and people
different from but equally important to men.
August 18: Virginia Dare becomes the first English child born in the New World.
October 25: Fifty-one "patriotic ladies" gather in Edenton to announce in writing their
boycott of East Indian tea as long as it is taxed by the British. This protest, known as
the Edenton Tea Party, is one of the first political activities in this country staged by
Flora MacDonald, famous for saving the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrives in
Wilmington, North Carolina. After urging her fellow Highland Scots to fight for England
and then suffering financial and personal loss during the Revolutionary War, she leaves
the state in 1778.
North Carolina native Dolley Madison becomes first lady when James Madison is
inaugurated as the fourth president. She remains one of the most popular first ladies
in the nation's history.
The Newbern Female Charitable Society is founded to help "destitute female children."
The General Council of the Cherokee Nation goes against tribal tradition of gender
equality by drafting a constitution patterned after that of the United States which
excludes women from holding office and denies them franchise.
Frankie Silver is convicted for the murder of her husband in present-day Mitchell County.
She becomes the first woman in North Carolina to be executed by hanging.
Greensboro College, North Carolina's first chartered college for women, is opened and
operated by the Methodist Church.
Harriet Jacobs, an Edenton slave, is smuggled aboard a ship to escape slavery after
spending seven years hiding in a tiny attic room in her grandmother's house. She
escapes to New York, where she buys the freedom of her children. She later writes
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Dorothea Dix spends three months in North Carolina studying the treatment of the
unfortunate and lobbying the state government to build a hospital for the mentally ill.
Her persistence and persuasion are rewarded in 1856, when the state legislature
makes its first appropriation to a hospital for the insane.
March 20: Sarah Malinda Pritchard Blalock cuts her hair, dons men's clothing, and
enlists with her husband in the Confederate army, becoming North Carolina's only
known female Civil War soldier.
Mary Jane Patterson, a free black from Raleigh, becomes the first African American
woman to receive a bachelor of arts degree. She obtains the degree from Oberlin
College in Ohio.
Congress passes the Morrill Act, establishing land-grant colleges in rural areas. Millions
of women will earn low-cost degrees at these schools. In North Carolina, this act
results in the founding of North Carolina State University.
March 18: During what has become known as the Salisbury Bread Riot, several dozen
women armed with axes and hatchets storm speculators' stores demanding flour,
molasses, and salt in Salisbury. When shop owners refuse to turn over the goods, the
women take them by force.
The North Carolina legislature passes a new constitution that secures a woman's personal
property acquired before or after marriage.
Dr. Susan Dimock becomes the first female member of the North Carolina Medical Society,
although she never practices in the state. Earlier Dimock is forced to go abroad to find a
medical school that will accept women, then practices at a hospital in Boston as one of
the nation's first licensed female doctors.
Tabitha Ann Holton passes the North Carolina state bar to become the first licensed female
lawyer in the South.
The first Woman's Christian Temperance Union chapter is established in the state in
Greensboro. Within a year, 11 more chapters are established and in 1903 the state has
65 chapters and 3,000 members. With the passing of state prohibition in 1908, membership
dwindles to 1,000.
Dr. Annie Lowrie Alexander, born in Mecklenburg County, returns to the state several years
after her graduation from Women's Medical College in Philadelphia to become the state's
first licensed female doctor.
African American members of the Woman's Christian Temperance Movement secede and
form WCTU No. 2. Like the original group, the spin-off reports directly to the national
organization. North Carolina is the only state to have a black woman's temperance union,
and by 1891 WCTU No. 2 will have 400 members in 19 chapters.
The General Assembly charters the State Normal and Industrial School as the first
state-supported institution of higher education for women. Known as Woman's College,
the school will evolve into the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy is established. By 1901 North Carolina will
have 33 chapters.
The first petition to the North Carolina General Assembly for woman suffrage is referred
to the committee on insane asylums.
Sallie Walker Stockard becomes the first woman to graduate from the University of North
Carolina. Women have been allowed to attend the summer teachers' institute in Chapel
Hill since 1879, but Stockard is the first female student to earn a degree from the university.
The North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs is organized.
The first meeting of the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina is held in Charlotte.
Harriet Morehead Berry is appointed head of North Carolina's Road Commission and
soon becomes known as the "Mother of Good Roads in North Carolina."
Lillian Exum Clement of Buncombe County becomes the first woman elected to the North
Carolina House of Representatives.
In October Equal Suffrage League president Gertrude Weil and other suffragists gather in
Greensboro to plan how to use the right to vote to focus on women's issues and to
transform the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League into the North Carolina League of
Kate Burr Johnson of Morganton becomes the first woman in the country to serve as
state commissioner of public welfare and the first woman in the state to head a major
Annie Wealthy Holland of Gates County forms the North Carolina Congress of Colored
Parents and Teachers, the first such organization for African Americans in the state.
Ella May Wiggins, one of the most outspoken union activists in North Carolina, is killed
during a labor dispute at the Loray Mill.
North Carolina initiates a birth control program, funds maternal and infant health programs,
and licenses midwives.
Elreta Alexander becomes the first African American woman licensed as a lawyer in North
Susie Sharp becomes North Carolina's first female superior court judge.
Judge Susie Sharp becomes the first woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Margaret Taylor Harper enters the race for lieutenant governor of North Carolina, becoming
the first woman to run for statewide office.
The North Carolina General Assembly declines to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Isabella Cannon is elected mayor of Raleigh, becoming the first female mayor of a major
North Carolina city.
Gertrude B. Elion and research partner George H. Hitchings win the Nobel Prize for
medicine for their pioneering research in drug development at Burroughs Wellcome in
Research Triangle Park.
November: Eva M. Clayton is elected to the United States House of Representatives.
She is the first woman and the first African American woman to represent North Carolina
North Carolina natives Sadie and Bessie Delany, at ages 104 and 102, publish their book,
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. Their story becomes a successful
Elaine F. Marshall is elected North Carolina's first female secretary of state.
Beverly Perdue is elected North Carolina's first female lieutenant governor.
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