New Jersey Women's History



Notable Facts



 Material Objects


 Topical Index








Period One
- 1775
Period Two
1776 - 1843
Period Three
1844 - 1879
Period Four
1880 - 1920
Period Five
1921 - 1960
Period Six
1961 -

1962 Pop and soul singer Dionne Warwick began collaborating with the composer Burt Bacharach in 1962. They had thirty single hits and about twenty best-selling albums in one decade. 
1963 tn_flopress1.gif (1081 bytes) New Jersey Congresswoman Florence Price Dwyer (1902-1976) sponsored successful federal equal pay legislation.
1964   The first State Advisory Commission on the Status of Women was established. Doris Hubatka, past president of the New Jersey Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, was elected chair of the group of fifteen women and four men.
  edwards_tn.jpg (3077 bytes) Dr. Lena Edwards (1900-1986) was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. She practiced medicine in Jersey City and helped found a maternity hospital in a mission in Texas.
1965 Hughes_tn.jpg (2713 bytes) The state legislature was enlarged and new districts were drawn. This creation of new seats provided the opportunity for the election of Mildred Barry Hughes (1902-1995), a Democrat from Elizabeth, as the first woman elected to the New Jersey Senate.  
  Dorothea Schwarcz Greenbaum, 1893-1986, became the first New Jersey artist to be represented in the collection of the New Jersey State Museum. 
1967 felician_tn.jpg (11191 bytes) Felician College, a four-year women's college run by the Polish Felician Sisters of Lodi was developed from Immaculate Conception Junior College which had grown out of the order's normal school founded in 1923.
1968   Princeton University first admitted women undergraduate students.
1969   Republican Millicent Fenwick (1910-1992) was elected to the state assembly from Bernardsville. She initiated successful legislation (A-403) to prohibit hiring discrimination in various fields by reason of race, creed, national origin, age, marital status or sex. She was dubbed "Outhouse Millie" because of her efforts to require decent pay and working conditions for the state’s migrant agricultural workers.
    The New Jersey Office on Women was established. The legislation was supported by the only three female members of the state Assembly, Josephine Margetts (R., Morris County), Millicent Fenwick (R., Somerset County), and Ann Klein (D. Morris County).
1970   The population of the state was over seven million people, of whom 30% were immigrants or the children of immigrants; 51.6% of whom were female and 10.7% of whom were black. 
    The US Supreme Court refused to upset a lower court decision that Wheaton Glass Co. in New Jersey must pay male and female assembly line workers the same amount.
  march_tn.jpg (7604 bytes) On August 26, women across New Jersey joined in the Women's March for Equality in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.


1971   The state’s first feminist conference was held at Fairleigh Dickinson University and attended by 350 women.
    Wyona Lipman (c. 1929-1999), a former Essex County Freeholder, became the first African American woman elected to the New Jersey Senate. She served nine terms representing the 29th Legislative District.
1972   The New Jersey legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
    The first statewide conference of the Commission on Women was held in Trenton in September.
    The first statewide conference of the multi-partisan Women’s Political Caucus was held at Rutgers University.
  newdirections_tn.jpg (5771 bytes) New Directions for Women in New Jersey, edited by Paula Kassel (1917- ) of Dover, was the first statewide feminist publication in New Jersey and the United States.
    Republican Millicent Fenwick was appointed director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the highest executive position in state government held by a woman up to that time.
    A federal court in Trenton declared unconstitutional the state’s 112 year old abortion law, stating that the act was vague and an invasion of privacy.
    Officials of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced that it was permitting females to try out for all varsity sports.
  co-ed2_tn.jpg (3304 bytes) Rutgers College admitted women undergraduates for the first time in its 206-year history.
  co-ed3_tn.jpg (2443 bytes)  
1973 annkleingovernor_tn.gif (3721 bytes) Ann Klein (1923-1986), a Morris County Democrat, ran for the Democratic nomination for governor. A former president of the New Jersey League of Women Voters, Klein was the first Democrat elected to the state assembly from Morris County in 60 years (1971). Her effort to win the gubernatorial nomination in 1973 was the first public challenge to the Democratic Party’s state nominating procedures.
  annklein_tn.gif (3509 bytes)  
    The New Jersey chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) was chartered with Rosemary Dempsey as President.
    The New Jersey Department of Defense announced that women would be admitted into non-combat units, specifically transportation, administration, public information and band companies.
1974 mfenwich_tn.gif (2748 bytes) Known as the political Year of the Woman, this was the first time two New Jersey women were elected to the House of Representatives at the same time. Millicent Fenwick, a Bernardsville Republican, and Helen Stevenson Meyner (1928-1997), a Democrat from Phillipsburg, were elected from the fifth and thirteenth districts respectively.
  meyner1_tn.jpg (4661 bytes)  
    A New Jersey court ruled that Little League was a "public accommodation" and had to admit females. As a result of the New Jersey ruling, the national organization announced on June 12 that females would be allowed to participate in Little League with males.
1975   Esther Hymer (1898 - 2001) of Shrewsbury organized and was elected chair of the committee for the International Women's Year and the Decade for Women.
    New Jersey voters rejected the federal Equal Rights Amendment in a statewide referendum.
    New Jersey established a Division of Women under the Department of Community Affairs.
  equity_ed1_tn.gif (4599 bytes) Under Title 6 of the State Administrative Code, equality in educational programs was mandated by the State Board of Education. Such equality was to include classroom practices, hiring and personnel policy.
1976   At the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Representative Millicent Fenwick debated "Stop ERA" leader Phyllis Schlafly on national television. Fenwick and other Republican ERA supporters, were taken off guard by the assertiveness of the anti-ERA, anti-abortion faction in the Republican party.
1977   Ruth Carpenter, a Hunterdon County Republican, was elected county sheriff, the first woman to hold this post in New Jersey.
    New Jersey Representative Helen Meyner (1928-1977) was a founder of the Congresswomen’s Caucus. This organization of female representatives was designed to focus on federal legislation of particular concern to women.
    Two Princeton University students, Colleen M. Guiney and Kathleen A. Kouner (‘79) applied for membership in one of the three remaining male-only eating clubs on the Princeton campus. They were rejected, and in 1978 Sally B. Frank (‘80) filed a complaint against the three clubs with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. By 1992, all the eating clubs were integrated.
 1978   Ruth Marcus Patt (1919- ) helped inspire written histories of the African American and Hispanic communities of New Brunswick.
    New Jersey established a Commission on Sex Discrimination.
   Joyce Carol Oates, noted novelist and essayist, began teaching creative writing at Princeton University in 1978.


1979   New Jersey began "displaced homemaker" programs in recognition of women who worked to provide unpaid services for families, but had no personal resources; the programs included job training, job placement services and financial management services.
    New Jersey founded Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence programs: these included shelter for women and their children and other social services appropriated through private and public funding.
    The Separate Property of Married Women Act safeguarded the property of women owned at the time of marriage and property acquired thereafter.
1980   Margaret "Marge" Roukema (1929- ), a Ridgewood Republican, won election to Congress from the Seventh District, becoming the fifth woman to serve in Congress from New Jersey.  She served until 2003.
1981 burgio_tn.gif (3729 bytes) Jane Grey Burgio (1922- ), a Republican from West Caldwell, was appointed New Jersey's first female secretary of state by Governor Thomas Kean.
    Barbara Boggs Sigmund, Ann Klein, Barbara McConnell, Patricia Sheehan and Marie Muhler founded the New Jersey Bi-Partisan Coalition for Women’s Appointments designed to promote the candidacies of women. Sigmund became the first woman mayor of Princeton in 1983, and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1989.
  morheusertn.jpg (11973 bytes) Marilyn J. Morheuser (1924-1995), director and leading attorney of the Education Law Center in Newark, filed the landmark law suit Abbott v. Burke challenging discrepancies between wealthy and poor districts in the funding of public education under the Public School Education Act.
1982 tn_mfenwich.gif (2748 bytes) In the second political Year of the Woman, Millicent Fenwick won the Republican nomination to become the first New Jersey woman to run for the U. S. Senate on a major party ticket. She lost the close election.
  garibaldi_tn.jpg (8632 bytes) Marie L. Garibaldi (1934- ), a native of Jersey City,  was sworn in as the first woman to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
    The New Jersey Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women was founded. Janet Haynes of Jersey City, the first woman to serve as Hudson County Clerk, Joy Turner, Lorraine Ewing and Gloria Buck were among the original organizers. This non-partisan women’s advocacy group focuses on health, education, housing and mentoring of young women.
    The Women’s Rights Information Center opened in Englewood.
    The second week in March in each year was designated as "Women’s History Week" in New Jersey in recognition of the significant and diverse contributions of women to the state and the country.
   Actress Celeste Holm was appointed chair of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Development Commission.


1985   Elizabeth Balsley became a member of the North Hunterdon, New Jersey high school football team after the New Jersey Commissioner of Education ruled that females could participate in contact sports.
1986   In Hackensack, Mary Beth Whitehead, a surrogate mother, lost her suit to retain custody of a child born to her. Permanent custody of the infant girl was given to the baby's father and adoptive mother.  In 1988, the New Jersey Supreme Court restored parental rights to Whitehead, permitting her visitation with the child.
  The first solo exhibition of photographs by a Newark-born award winning photographer, Helen Stummer, is held at Rutgers University.
1988   Uniform Premarital Agreements allowed for specified agreement between prospective spouses on disposition of property, income and earnings.
1990   Martha Stewart, celebrated arbiter of domesticity and native of Nutley, launched her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, in which she frequently reminisces about growing up in a Polish-American family in Nutley.
1992   After failing to win US Supreme Court review of a 1990 New Jersey State Supreme Court decision holding that eating clubs at Princeton University could not deny membership to women, the last male-only club admitted its first female members.
1993 whitman_tn.gif (2870 bytes) Christine Todd Whitman (1946- ), a Somerset County Republican, was elected the first female governor of the state. She appointed many women to high level state positions.
    In Congress, Representative Margaret "Marge" Roukema played a key role in the passage of the federal Family Leave Act.
1997   Governor Christine Todd Whitman was elected to a second term in a tight election race against Democrat James McGreevey.
1999   Lauryn Hill (1976- ), a native and resident of South Orange, became the most celebrated star of the hip-hop musical world, winning three Grammy awards, two Billboard Music Awards, and three NAACP Image Awards.
    Evelyn Dubrow (1912 - ), noted journalist and Women's labor union lobbyist from Passaic, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President William J. Clinton.
2000 Novelist and Princeton University Humanities Professor Toni Morrison won the National Humanities Medal as the most renowned black woman writer, 2000.
2001    Bernarda Bryson Shahn seated in her studio and surrounded by many of her paintings, painted by Mel Leipzig. 
2002 Janet Evanovich published her best-selling series about Stephanie Plum, a Trenton-based bounty hunter. 

Selected Sources

Barbara Tomlinson, "Making Their Way: A Study of New Jersey Congresswomen, 1924-1994,"(Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 1996).

Irene Franck and David Brownstone. Women's World: A Timeline of Women in History. (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1995).

Carmela Ascolese Karnoutsos. New Jersey Women: A History of Their Status, Roles and Images. (Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1998).

Joan N. Burstyn, ed., Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997).

Judith Freeman Clark, Almanac of American Women in the 20th Century. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall Press, 1987).

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./WPNJ.htm">Women's Project of New Jersey
Copyright 2002, The Women's Project of New Jersey, Inc.
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