Famous Firsts in the Arts by American Women

1650 Ann Bradstreet
1st Published U.S. Writer
Anne Bradstreet's book of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, is published in England.
1707 Henrietta Johnston
1st Professional U.S. Female Artist
Henrietta Johnston begins to work as a portrait artist in Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina.
1766 Mary Katherine Goddard
1st U.S. Female Publisher
Mary Katherine Goddard and her widowed mother become publishers of the Providence Gazette newspaper and the annual West's Almanack.
1896 Alice Guy Blaché
1st U.S. Female Film Director
Alice Guy Blaché shoots the first of her more than 300 films, a short feature called La Fee aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy).
1897 H.H.A. Beach
Symphony Composer
H.H.A. Beach's "Gaelic Symphony" is the first symphony by a woman performed in the United States, and possibly the world.
1914 Mary Davenport-Engberg
1st Female Symphony Conductor
Mary Davenport-Engberg is the first woman to conduct a symphony orchestra, in Bellingham, Washington.
1921 Edith Wharton
1st Female Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction
American novelist Edith Wharton wins a Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Age of Innocence.
1976 Sarah Caldwell
Opera Conductor
Sarah Caldwell becomes the first woman to conduct at New York's Metropolitan Opera House.
1993 Toni Morrison
Nobel Prize Winner for Literature
Toni Morrison becomes the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature