Introduction


1740 to 1847

Legal and Societal Restrictions

Early Education for Women

 


1848 to 1867

Women's Rights Movement

Westward Expansion

 


1868 to 1920

Women's Rights Movement

Higher Education

New Careers

Suffrage Movement

 


1921 to 2013

Women in Politics

Women Professionals

Athletics

World War II

Women's Rights Since 1960

 


Biographies

Timeline

 


Share Your Stories

 


Cornwall Historical Society

 


Timeline: Women's Rights in Connecticut and the U.S.

Events directly related to Cornwall women are also included.

 

1642 Connecticut establishes the death penalty for any man committing adultery with a married or engaged woman; the adulteress would also be sentenced to die.
1642 Connecticut establishes the death penalty for the rape of a married or engaged woman; single women were not included in the legislation.
1667 Connecticut allows divorce in the case of adultery, fraudulent contract, desertion for three years, or complete disappearance (including being at sea) for seven years.
1672 Connecticut law establishes the death penalty for the rape of married women, provided the complaint and prosecution are made immediately; no punishment for raping unmarried women is specified.
1672 Connecticut reduces the punishment for adultery from death to whipping; adultery is defined as being committed by any man with a married or engaged woman; single women are not mentioned.
1702 Any woman caught wearing men’s clothing, or any man wearing women’s clothing, will be “corporally punished” and fined.
1702 In Connecticut, it is illegal for single women to have sex; the punishment for the woman and the man was a fine or a whipping, at the discretion of the court.
1717 Connecticut Acts & Laws states that men can be married at age 14, and women at age 12.
1717 Connecticut’s law against adultery applied specifically to any man found in bed with “another’s man’s wife”; the punishment of 30 lashes would be given to both the man and the woman, unless it was established that one of them had been “surprised and did not consent,” in which case the “surprised” person would not be punished.
1723 Connecticut enacts a law protecting the right of women to own land they inherited; before this, any land inherited by a woman was legally the sole property of her husband, who could sell the land without her permission or knowledge.
1735 Connecticut Act declares that a guardian must be appointed for any male age 14 to 21 or female age 12 to 18 who does not have a father, guardian, or master.
1766 Cornwall's Amy Johnson, newly widowed, retains control over the large estate left to her by her husband.
1771 Mercy Winegar wins a lawsuit against Daniel Abbott in Cornwall.
1774 Mary Bierce wins a lawsuit against Nathan Sawyer in Cornwall.
1774 Elizabeth Jillet is sued by Elihu Allen in Cornwall.
1777 Hannah Bunce Watson becomes publisher of the Connecticut Courant; co-owner with Sarah Ledyard.
1784 Connecticut’s law against adultery is redefined to include only married women, excluding women “betrothed to another man.” Married men having sex with single women are still not mentioned.
1784 Cornwall's Mabel Dibble is an Administrator for the estate of her husband, David Dibble.
1792 The Litchfield Female Academy is founded by Sarah Pierce; it closes in 1833.
1792 Peg, an African American woman enslaved in Cornwall, gains her freedom and marries Cesar Barber of Litchfield.
1801 Legal actions begun by single women in Connecticut are no longer automatically voided if they continue past the date on which she marries, so long as her husband takes her place in court.
1808 A Connecticut law decrees that any woman found guilty of concealing an illegitimate pregnancy will be fined $150 or imprisoned for three months; the law also specifies punishments for concealing a stillborn illegitimate birth and for killing an illegitimate newborn.
1808 Connecticut updates its law against rape to include all girls and women, married or otherwise; the punishment for rape is death, so long as the complaint and prosecution are made immediately.
1809 Married women in Connecticut are allowed to write wills.
1809 Mary Kies of South Killingly, CT is the first woman to receive a U.S. patent.
1818 Patty Swift Lippincott, originally from Cornwall, moves to Illinois six months before it becomes a state and starts the first Sunday school in Illinois.
1818 Elizabeth Benedict begins assembling a profitable farm for herself on Great Hill in East Cornwall.
1821 Emma Willard founds Troy Female Seminary, first collegiate-level school for girls.
1822 Hartford Female Seminary founded by Catharine Beecher.
1824 Sarah Northrup creates a national scandal when she defies convention and marries a Cherokee, John Ridge, whom she met while he was a student at Cornwall’s Foreign Mission School.
1826 Harriet Gold follows Sarah Northrup’s example, marrying Elias Boudinot, also a Cherokee student from the Foreign Mission School.
1828 Naomi Freeman purchases an acre of land with a dwelling house in Cornwall; despite being married, the deed is made out to Naomi, not to her husband.
1833 Oberlin College is founded as first coeducational college.
1837 Mount Holyoke, first college for women, is founded by Mary Lyon.
1839 Abolitionist Abby Kelley attempts to speak publicly at Cornwall Bridge and is nearly assaulted; area women are conflicted in their response to Kelley, uncomfortable with the idea of a woman speaking in public.
1841 Three women graduate from Oberlin College.
1842 Lewey Bierce is Cornwall’s first female college graduate, at Mount Holyoke.
1847 Miss Porter’s School opens in Farmington.
1848 World’s first women’s rights convention held at Seneca Falls, NY on July 19 and 20.
1848 West Cornwall’s Elizabeth Stoddard Huntington moves to California with her husband, two years before California becomes a state.
1849 Married women in Connecticut are allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.
1850 First annual national women’s rights convention held in Worcester, MA.
1850 Female Medical College of Pennsylvania established by Quaker physicians for women.
1850 Cornwall’s Mary Chapin becomes the second principal of Mount Holyoke.
1851 Amelia Bloomer publishes a description of what becomes known as “bloomers”.
1851 West Cornwall’s Hannah Stoddard and Clara Stoddard Prentice join their sister, Elizabeth Huntington, in California, becoming one of the state’s early pioneers.
1851 Sojourner Truth delivers her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at a women’s rights convention.
1853 Eliza Northrup Dorman, originally from Cornwall, moves with her family to Wisconsin, which had become a state only five years earlier.
1855 Lucy Stone is the first recorded woman to keep her maiden name after marriage.
1855 University of Iowa admits women students.
1855 Missouri v. Celia establishes the right of slave owners to rape female slaves.
1856 Married women are granted patent rights in Connecticut.
1860 Connecticut prohibits artificial miscarriages and abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother or of the unborn child; punishment of anyone conducting the abortion consisted of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000; women convicted of having an abortion could be punished with between one and two years in prison and/or a fine of $500.
1860 Connecticut permits married women to transfer their ownership of stock without their husband’s involvement.
1864 The Alger Female Institute opens in Cornwall.
1865 Connecticut law protects married women’s property from being taken to pay the husband’s debts; married men were protected from being sued for any liabilities incurred by their wives prior to marriage.
1865 Divorce could be granted in Connecticut for adultery, bestiality, life imprisonment, fraudulent contract, seven years’ disappearance, three years’ desertion, habitual drunkenness for at least three years with no “prospect of reform,” intolerable cruelty, or any other “infamous crime.” The law also affirmed the payment of alimony and child support to the wife.
1866 American Equal Rights Association is founded, the first U.S. organization to advocate women’s suffrage.
1868 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony publish The Revolution.
1871 West Cornwall’s Mary Jane Stoddard Emmons helps her husband found the city of Huntington, WV.
1872 Susan B. Anthony and 14 women register and vote in presidential election, testing Fourteenth Amendment; Anthony is arrested and fined $100.
1872 Congress gives women federal employees equal pay for equal work.
1873 Comstock Law (U.S.) defines information about contraception as obscene.
1876 The North Cornwall Congregational Church gives full church voting rights to women members.
1877 The Connecticut Married Women’s Act establishes separate legal identities for married women, ending centuries of legal tradition merging women with their husbands. Married women are now entitled to full control of their earnings, finances, and property.
1882 Mary Hall is the first woman admitted to the Connecticut bar following a State Supreme Court decision on her case.
1884 Belva Lockwood is the first woman to receive votes in a presidential election.
1885 The Housatonic Valley Institute opens in Cornwall as a boarding school for girls.
1890s Artist Lydia Brewster Hubbard establishes the Cream Hill Group of artists in Cornwall.
1889 West Cornwall's Jessie Wheaton begins a career as a private duty nurse, supporting herself for nearly half a century.
1892 Smith College introduces women’s basketball to its students, with modified rules making the game easier and more “feminine;” the modified rules continued to be used for close to a century.
1893 Connecticut enacts a bill requiring every city with a population of 20,000 or more to appoint a police matron to “take charge of all women” arrested by the local police.
1893 Connecticut enacts a bill allowing women to vote” at any meeting held for the purpose of choosing any officer of schools or for any educational purpose;” women voters had to be at least 21 and have resided in Connecticut for at least one year, in their town for at least six months, and they had to be able to read English. Women’s ballots were cast separately from men’s, in special boxes labeled “For Women’s Ballots.”
1894 The first Ph.D. to be earned by a woman is awarded at Yale in New Haven.
1894 Cornwall’s Rose Hubbard launches her acting career.
1894 Cornwall’s Hattie Scoville Devan becomes principal of The Catharine Aiken School for girls in Stamford.
1895 Hattie J. Pratt runs for election as School Visitor in Cornwall.
1896 Susan B. Anthony declares that the bicycle “has done more to emancipate women than anything else.”
1900 Cornwall’s Annie Beecher Scoville works for several years for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on reservations in the Dakotas, publishing her observations of native culture and the impact of U.S. government programs.
1907 Lillias Rumsey Sanford relocates her school for boys, Rumsey Hall, to Cornwall.
1912 The first women’s suffrage meeting in Cornwall is organized by Josepha Newcomb Whitney.
1913 Cornwall's Harriet Bennett publishes a brief news article about a meeting of the Cornwall Equal Suffrage League, held in her home.
1916 Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth control clinic. Birth control consists of diaphragms made available only to married women with large families.
1917 Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
1920 August 26: women gain the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.
1921 Ruth Maxon Adams begins designing houses for Cornwall’s Yelping Hill community.
1922 Caroline Whitney, one of Cornwall’s summer residents, makes national headlines when she turns down her acceptance into the Phi Beta Kappa society; she is the first woman to do so.
1928 Women are allowed to compete in track & field events at the Olympics.
1929 May F. Wilford becomes the first woman from Cornwall to be elected to the State Legislature.
1933 Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, is the first woman to serve in a Presidential cabinet.
1935 Jeans for women are introduced with the Lady Levi’s line.
1936 Cornwall’s Betty Woolsey is captain of the first U.S. women’s ski team to compete in the Olympics.
1939 The Hollywood movie The Women depicts socialites wearing jeans at a dude ranch.
1942-45 World War II opens up new opportunities for women to join the workforce. Several Cornwall women served in the military as nurses.
1944 Wellesley College students wearing jeans on campus are photographed for Life magazine and cause a national scandal over their “sloppy look."
1944 Cornwall's Melissa Clark is one of five American nurses who were the first Allied women to fly into the zone of operations, four days after the D-Day invasion began.
1944 Ruth Farwell of West Cornwall enlists in the Medical WACS.
1945 Cornwall's Lydia Hubbard is stationed on Saipan, the U.S. base closest to Japan.
1945 Cornwall Hollow's Eleanor Halloway reports for duty at the Chelsea Naval Hospital.
1945 Equal Pay for Equal Work bill is introduced; finally passes in 1963.
1947 Connecticut adopts the Fair Employment Practices Act, outlawing job discrimination.
1952 Democratic and Republican parties eliminate women’s divisions.
1953 Helen Coley Nauts founds the Cancer Research Institute in New York City.
1956 Harriet Clark becomes the second woman from Cornwall to be elected to the State Legislature.
1957 The ratio of men and women voting is roughly equal for the first time.
1959 The first Rose Algrant Art Show is held in Cornwall.
1960 FDA approves the birth control pill.
1960 Women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by men.
1961 Bertie Cartwright is the first woman to be elected as a Selectman in Cornwall.
1963 Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published, laying groundwork for modern feminist movement.
1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on gender, race, etc.
1965 Dorothy Bouteiller is the first woman to be elected Judge of Probate in Cornwall.
1970 President Nixon signs the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, declaring that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”
1971 Patsy Van Doren is the first woman to be elected First Selectman in Cornwall.
1972 The Equal Rights Amendment is passed, but fails to be ratified. Title IX establishes greater equality for women in sports.
1973 Women are allowed to compete in Olympic marathons for the first time.
1974 Connecticut’s Ella Grasso is the country’s first woman to win election as governor.
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor is the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

 

© Cornwall Historical Society, 2013

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