Fast Facts Pennsylvania

Political History

  • Early Republic
    • 1984, Hannah Callowhill Penn (wife of William Penn) were made the fourth honorary citizens of the United States, by act of Congress (her husband was third).1
    • May 8, 1985, the Penns were granted honorary citizenship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.2
    • Revolutionary War, Sara Franklin Bache and Ester De Berdt Reed organized a group of 2,200 Pennsylvania women to collect money, buy cloth, and sew clothing for Revolutionary soldiers.3
  • Anti Slavery
    • 1833, Lucretia Mott, a Quaker preacher and teacher, was one of four women to participate at the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia and became president of the Female Anti-Slavery Society.4
    • Pre-Civil War, Anna Dickinson, Lucretia Mott, Ann Preston, and Jane Swisshelm were among Pennsylvania women who led the antislavery cause.5
    • 1848, Jane Grey Swisshelm, launched her abolitionist paper, The Saturday Visiter, which featured antislavery propaganda and women's rights.6
    • Her essays influenced the state legislature to grant married women the right to own property, in 1848.
  • Suffrage
    • 1868 women in Philadelphia organized a Pennsylvania Women's Suffrage Association.7
    • Philadelphia was a hotbed of feminist agitation.
    • July 4, 1876, Susan B. Anthony read her famous "Declaration of Rights for Women" at the Washington statue in front of Independence Hall.8
    • Pennsylvania played a prominent part in the suffrage movement.
    • 1913 & 1915, The General Assembly approved a women's suffrage amendment to the state's Constitution, but Pennsylvania's male voters rejected the amendment by fifty-five thousand votes.9
    • June 4, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved by Congress.10
    • June 14, 1919, Pennsylvania became the seventh state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.11
    • 1922, Pennsylvanians elected the first women to the Legislature. Eight won state House seats, making Pennsylvania a national leader.12
    • Notable PA women who contributed to the national suffrage cause: Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, Lavinia Lloyd Dock, Florence Kelley, and Jane Grey Cannon Swisshelm.13

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Political Firsts14

  • 1922, first 8 women elected to State House (all Republicans):
    • Sarah Gerturde MacKinney, Alice M. Bentley, Rosa S. DeYoung, Sarah McCunde Gallagher, Helen Grimes, Lillie H. Pitts, Martha G. Speiser, and Martha G. Thomas.
  • 1923-1928, Representative Alice M. Bentley, first woman to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore.
  • 1932, Anna M. Brancato, First female Democrat is elected to the state House.
  • 1995, Sandra Schultz Newman is the first female elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • 2008, Lieutenant  Governor Catherine Baker Knoll is the only woman to serve in a statewide executive office in Pennsylvania

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Political Groups15

  • 1920, The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania was established, a successor organization to the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association,
    • Purpose to provide: "education to increase the effectiveness of women voters and to further better government.”
  • 1923, Pennsylvania State Council of Republican Women founded
  • 1927, Federation of Democratic Women is formed
  • 1972, Governor Sapp created the PA Commission for Women
  • 1981, PA Elected Women’s Association is formed
  • 1982, founding of the Pennsylvania Women’s Campaign Fund

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Characteristics of Female Representatives in Harrisburg16

  • In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, there are a total of 43 women.
  • Of that 43, 32 are members of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives; they make up only about 16% of the House.
  • The State Senate has 50 members, 11 are women, putting the percentage of women in the State Senate at 22%.
  • IN TOTAL, ABOUT 17% OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ARE WOMEN.

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Women of Color17

  • 1800’s, Charlotte Vadine Forten (1786-1886), her daughters, and granddaughters urged members of the African American elite to join a racially mixed group that promoted immediate abolition by hosting anti-slavery gatherings, writing for publications, and lobbying for an African American abolitionist perspective in organizations to which they belonged.
  • March 28,1867, Caroline LeCount, a teacher in Philadelphia's public schools, secured the right of Blacks to ride Philadelphia's public streetcars.
    • She attempted to enter a car and the  conductor told her that African Americans were not allowed to ride, but LeCount refused to let the matter drop. Since the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth was located at the time in Philadelphia, LeCount next took the matter to that office to obtain a copy of the legislation, which she presented to the magistrate. Her determination resulted in the conductor's arrest and $100 fine.
  • Early 1900’s, Daisy E. Lampkin believed to have begun with hosting a women's rights tea in her home in 1912, which led to her subsequent roles as a suffragist and member of the Negro Women's Equal Franchise Federation, campaigning for women's right to vote.
    • She became the chair of the Allegheny County Negro Women's Republican League, vice chair of the Negro Voters League of Pennsylvania, and vice chair of the Colored Voters Division of the Republican National Committee.
    • Lampkin became the first field secretary for the NAACP in 1930 and has been credited with increasing the organization's membership more than any other executive in the organization.
  • 1914-1917, Ruth L. Bennett was a twentieth-century activist. Joined by fourteen women in Chester, Delaware County, Bennett organized an "improvement club" and opened the Home for Negro Girls, recently arrived from the South
  • March 1965, C. Delores Tucker (1927-2005), who walked with King during the famous five-day, fifty-four-mile march in Alabama, from Selma to Montgomery.
    • Tucker was instrumental in founding the National Political Congress of Black Women, an organization that she later chaired.
  • 1971, C. Delores Tucker became the first African American in the nation to serve as secretary of the Commonwealth
  • 1940-1996, Judge Genevieve Blatt, who is considered the “first lady of PA politics”, was the first woman elected to a statewide political office in Pennsylvania and became the first woman to sit as a Pennsylvania appellate judge on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. She also blazed a new trail for girls to compete in interscholastic athletics by her landmark ruling on Title IX. 
    • She served as an assistant city solicitor in Pittsburgh in the 1940's.
    • Elected as Secretary of Internal Affairs in 1954 for three consecutive terms.
    • Judge Blatt ran on the Democratic ticket for Auditor General in 1950. She won a tight race in a party primary U.S. Senate seat in 1964, but then lost the election to the Republican incumbent, Senator Hugh Scott by 50,000 votes. 
    • From 1964 through 1968, she was appointed as a member of President Johnson's Consumer Advisory Council.
    • In 1972, Gov. Milton J. Shapp appointed her to fill an unexpired term on the Commonwealth Court, the state's appeals court. She won election on her own the next year, being re-elected in 1983.  She retired from the bench in 1993.  
    • She was awarded Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1956.

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Pennsylvania Women Elected to U.S. Congress18

U.S. Congress (Total Seats: 2 U.S. Senators, 19 U.S. Representatives)

 

Allyson Schwartz (D) U.S. Representative 2005-present
Kathy Dahlkemper (D) U.S. Representative 2009-2011
Melissa Hart (R) U.S. Representative 2001-2007
Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D) U.S. Representative 1993-1995
Kathryn Elizabeth Granahan (D) 1 U.S. Representative 1955-1963
Vera Daerr Buchanan (D) 2 U.S. Representative 1951-1957
Veronica Grace Boland (D) 3 U.S. Representative 1941-1943

 

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Pennsylvania Women Elected to State Executive Positions19

Statewide Elective Executives (Total Positions: 5)

 

Linda L. Kelly (R) Attorney General 2011-present
Robin Wiessmann (D) State Treasurer 2007-2009
Catherine Baker Knoll (D) Lieutenant Governor 2003-2008
Barbara H. Hafer (D) 1 State Treasurer 1997-2005
Barbara H. Hafer (R) Auditor General 1989-1997
Catherine Baker Knoll (D) State Treasurer 1989-1997
Grace McCalmont (D) State Treasurer 1961-1964;
1969-1976
Grace McCalmont (D) Auditor General 1965-1968
Genevieve Blatt (D) Secretary of Internal Affairs 1955-1967

 

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Historical Look at Women in the Pennsylvania State Legislature20

 

State Legislature
Year State
Rank
Senate Total
Women/
Total
Senate
 

House
Total
Women/
Total
House
Total
Women/
Total
Legis.
 
%
Total
Women
    D R     D R          
2011 42 5 6 11/ 50 13 19 32/ 203 43/ 253 16.9
2010 46 4 6 10/ 50 11 18 29/ 203 39/ 253 15.4
2009 46 4 6 10/ 50 11 16 27/ 203 37/ 253 14.6
2008 44 5 5 10/ 50 11 16 27/ 203 37/ 253 14.6
2007 44 5 5 10/ 50 11 16 27/ 203 37/ 253 14.6
2006 47 5 4 9/ 50 9 16 25/ 203 34/ 253 13.4
2005 46 5 4 9/ 50 9 16 25/ 203 34/ 253 13.4
2004 45 5 3 8/ 50 10 18 28/ 203 36/ 253 14.2
2003 45 5 3 8/ 50 10 17 27/ 203 35/ 253 13.8
2002 44 5 3 8/ 50 12 15 27/ 203 35/ 253 13.8
2001 44 4 3 7/ 50 12 15 27/ 203 34/ 253 13.4
2000 45 4 3 7/ 50 12 13 25/ 203 32/ 253 12.6
1999 45 4 3 7/ 50 12 13 25/ 203 32/ 253 12.6
1998 46 3 3 6/ 50 12 13 25/ 203 31/ 253 12.3
1997 46 3 3 6/ 50 12 13 25/ 203 31/ 253 12.3
1996 45 3 1 4/ 50 12 14 26/ 203 30/ 253 11.9
1995 44 3 1 4/ 50 12 14 26/ 203 30/ 253 11.9
1994 46 3 1 4/ 50 14 10 24/ 203 28/ 253 11.1
1993 46 3 1 4/ 50 11 10 21/ 203 25/ 253 9.9
1992 44 3 1 4/ 50 9 11 20/ 203 24/ 253 9.5
1991 44 3 1 4/ 50 9 11 20/ 203 24/ 253 9.5
1990 46 2 0 2/ 50 7 8 15/ 203 17/ 253 6.7
1989 46 2 0 2/ 50 7 8 15/ 203 17/ 253 6.7
1988 45 2 0 2/ 50 6 9 15/ 203 17/ 253 6.7
1987 46 2 0 2/ 50 5 9 14/ 203 16/ 253 6.3
1986 48 2 0 2/ 50 3 8 11/ 203 13/ 253 5.1
1985 48 2 0 2/ 50 3 8 11/ 203 13/ 253 5.1
1984 48 1 0 1/ 50 2 7 9/ 203 10/ 253 4.0
1983 48 1 0 1/ 50 2 7 9/ 203 10/ 253 4.0
1981 45 1 0 1/ 50 2 9 11/ 203 12/ 253 4.7
1979 43 - - 1/ 50 - - 10/ 203 11/ 253 4.3
1977 43 - - 1/ 50 - - 10/ 203 11/ 253 4.3
1975 43 - - 1/ 50 - - 8/ 203 9/ 253 3.6

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