This selection is based on our editorial judgment. Other sources may list different firsts.
Admiral in U.S. Navy: David Glasgow Farragut, 1866.
Airmail route, first transcontinental: Between New York City and San Francisco, 1920.
Assembly, representative: House of Burgesses, founded in Virginia, 1619.
Bank established: Bank of North America, Philadelphia, 1781.
Birth in America to English parents: Virginia Dare, born Roanoke Island, N.C., 1587.
Black newspaper: Freedom’s Journal, 1827, edited by John B. Russworm.
Black U.S. diplomat: Ebenezer D. Bassett, 1869, minister-resident to Haiti.
Black elected governor of a state: L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia, 1990.
Black elected to U.S. Senate: Hiram Revels, 1870, Mississippi.
Black elected to U.S. House of Representatives: Jefferson Long, Georgia, 1870.
Black associate justice of U.S. Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall, Oct. 2, 1967.
Black secretary of state: Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Dec. 2000.
Black U.S. cabinet minister: Robert C. Weaver, 1966, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Book by an African-American is published: Phillis Wheatley, 1773
Botanic garden: Established by John Bartram in Philadelphia, 1728, and is still in existence in its original location.
Cartoon, colored: “The Yellow Kid,” by Richard Outcault, in New York World, 1895.
College: Harvard, founded 1636.
College to confer degrees on women: Oberlin College (Ohio), 1841.
College to establish coeducation: Oberlin College (Ohio), 1833.
Electrocution of a criminal: William Kemmler in Auburn Prison, Auburn, N.Y., Aug. 6, 1890.
Five and Dime store: Founded by Frank Woolworth, Utica, N.Y., 1879 (moved to Lancaster, Pa., same year).
Fraternity, Greek-letter: Phi Beta Kappa; founded Dec. 5, 1776, at College of William and Mary.
Gay and lesbian civil rights advocacy organization, national: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, founded in New York City, 1973.
Lesbian, acknowledged, elected to high local office: Kathy Kozachenko, 1974, Ann Arbor City Council.
Gay man, acknowledged, elected to high local office: Harvey Milk, 1977, San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Indian-American governor: Bobby Jindal, 2007.
Law to be declared unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court: Judiciary Act of 1789. Case: Marbury v. Madison, 1803.
Library, circulating: Philadelphia, 1731.
Newspaper, illustrated daily: New York Daily Graphic, 1873.
Newspaper published daily: Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, Philadelphia, Sept. 1784.
Newspaper published over a continuous period: The Boston News-Letter, April 1704.
Oil well, commercial: Titusville, Pa., 1859.
Panel quiz show on radio: Information Please, May 17, 1938.
Postage stamps issued: 1847.
Public school: Boston Latin School, Boston, 1635.
Radio station licensed: KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 27, 1920.
Railroad, transcontinental: Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, joined at Promontory, Utah, May 10, 1869.
Savings bank: The Provident Institute for Savings, Boston, 1816.
Science museum: Founded by Charleston (S.C.) Library Society, 1773.
Skyscraper: Home Insurance Co., Chicago, 1885 (10 floors, 2 added later).
Slaves brought into America: At Jamestown, Va., 1619, from a Dutch ship.
Sorority: Alpha Delta Pi, at Wesleyan Female College, 1851.
Space tourist: Dennis Tito, 2001
State legalizes same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, 2004.
State to abolish capital punishment: Michigan, 1847.
State to enter Union after original 13: Vermont, 1791.
Steam-heated building: Eastern Hotel, Boston, 1845.
Steam railroad (carried passengers and freight): Baltimore & Ohio, 1830.
Strike on record by union: Journeymen Printers, New York City, 1776.
Subway: Opened in Boston, 1897.
“Tabloid” picture newspaper: The Illustrated Daily News (now the Daily News), New York City, 1919.
Vaudeville theater: Gaiety Museum, Boston, 1883.
Woman astronaut appointed commander of the International Space Station: Dr. Peggy Whitson, 2008
Woman astronaut appointed shuttle commander: Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, Columbia, launched July 1999.
Woman astronaut to ride in space: Dr. Sally K. Ride, 1983.
Woman astronaut to walk in space: Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, 1984.
Woman cabinet member: Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, 1933.
Woman candidate for president: Victoria Claflin Woodhull, nominated by National Woman’s Suffrage Assn. on ticket of Nation Radical Reformers, 1872.
Woman candidate for vice president: Geraldine A. Ferraro, nominated on a major party ticket, Democratic Party, 1984.
Woman doctor of medicine: Elizabeth Blackwell; M.D. from Geneva Medical College of Western New York, 1849.