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Women in North Carolina

About this Guide

Image Credit: Group of Smith College Students, detail. Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

From Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in America on the North Carolina coast; to the hundreds of women who have served in our state's General Assembly; to Bev Perdue, the first female governor of North Carolina, we recognize the vital place that women and their accomplishments have in our history.

Strong women have gained notoriety throughout the state's past. Here are just a few prominent North Carolina women:

  • 1804 - Winifred Marshall Gales writes and publishes Matilda Berkely; or, Family Anecdotes, which becomes the first novel ever published in North Carolina written by a resident of the state.
  • 1809 - Dolley Madison is the first North Carolinian to become first lady.
  • 1862 - Mary Jane Patterson, from Raleigh, is the first African American woman to receive a bachelor of arts degree in the United States.
  • 1878 - Tabitha Ann Holton is the first licensed female lawyer in North Carolina.
  • 1887 - Dr. Annie Lowrie Alexander is the first licensed female doctor in North Carolina.
  • 1902 - Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown founds the Alice Freeman Palmer Memorial Institute.
  • 1921 - Lillian Exum Clement is the first woman to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly.
  • 1946 - Eliza Jane Pratt is the first female to represent North Carolina in the US Congress.
  • 2009 - Beverly Perdue is North Carolina's first female governor.

For every woman who has gained a place in the history books, numerous female tar heels have helped build and sustain the state in so many ways. From working in the burgeoning textile industry, to forwarding higher education and research, to documenting their Civil War experiences, these women are an integral part of our culture.

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G.R. Little Library

Elizabeth City State University