Historical Firsts

Historical Firsts

  • 1893: Colorado becomes the first state to give women the right to vote through a popular election (Wyoming’s territorial legislature had previously granted women the right to vote in 1869.)
  • 1894: 3 women elected to Colorado House of Representatives. These are the first women to serve in a state legislature in the United States.
  • 1895: First women in any state legislature (Colorado House):
    •  Clara Cressingham. As secretary of the Republican caucus, she was the first woman to fill a leadership position. First woman to have a bill she introduced become law – bounty of $3 per ton on sugar beets raised in the state and sold to a factory in Colorado.
    • Carrie Holly. First bill sponsored by a woman was sponsored by her. The bill raised the age of consent from 16 to 18 and it eventually passed.
    • Frances Klock. First woman to chair a committee: Indian and Veteran Affairs committee. First woman to preside over a state legislature.
  • 1912:  First woman elected to the state Senate. Helen Ring Robinson began serving in 1913.
  • 1955-1956: Elizabeth Eyre Pellet first woman minority leader in the state legislature (first woman in a major leadership position).
  • 1961: Ruth Stockton begins her 24 years of service. Ruth S. Stockton served longer in the legislature than any other woman: House (1961-64) and Senate (1965-1984).  In 1979 she became the first female Senate President pro tem. In 1981 she became the first women to Chair the Joint Budget Committee.
  • 1971: Betty Benavidez becomes first Hispanic woman to serve in the state legislature (House).
  • 1973: Arie Taylor becomes the first African-American woman in state House.
  • 1979: Polly Baca first minority woman in state Senate.
  • 1979-1987: Nancy Dick serves as first woman Lt. Governor. She had served in the state House, 1975-1979.
  • 1985: Polly Baca becomes the first Hispanic woman to serve in leadership in any state Senate in the United States.
  • 1994: Gloria Travis Tanner becomes the first African-American woman to serve in the Senate.
  • 1997: Suzanne Williams becomes the first Native American to serve in the state legislature (House and, in 2005 in the Senate.)
  • 1997: Norma Anderson becomes the first female Majority Leader in the House.
  • 2003: Lola Spradley becomes the first female Speaker of the House.
  • 2003: Norma Anderson becomes the first female Majority Leader in the Senate.
  • 2005: Joan Fitz-Gerald becomes the first female President of the Senate.
  • 2015: Dickey Lee Hullinghorst becomes the first Democratic female Speaker of the House.


Note: The information on this page is made available through the generosity of the Colorado Legislative Women’s Caucus, which has asked us to preserve, maintain and promote information they gathered.

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