The launch of Firsts, a new TIME multimedia project, is a moment to celebrate women who broke ground in their fields — from the arts and politics to the world of science and the military. It’s thus an apt moment to celebrate the countless women who played pioneers in history.
Just a small sampling of them can be seen in the gallery above. There’s Jeannette Rankin, who was the first woman ever elected to U.S. national office — even before the 19th Amendment gave women across the country the right to vote. There’s Sarah Breedlove Walker, who turned her business savvy into an incredible record as the nation’s first woman to become a self-made millionaire. There’s Margaret Bourke-White, of LIFE Magazine, who, among her many photographic firsts, was the first woman to be accredited to cover World War II combat with her camera.
And the list goes on.
We encourage you to share your favorite stories of female firsts from history with us on Twitter at @LIFE and @TIMEHistory. In addition, we’re continuing to collect your stories of the groundbreaking women in your own life. If you know a woman or a girl who has been a “first” in ways big or small, share your photos and stories with us using the hashtag #SheIsTheFirst and we may feature you in TIME.
While speaking about the project, the editor-in-chief of Time Nancy Gibbs said:
“Our goal with this extraordinary project…is for every woman and girl to find someone who moves them, to find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to them that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular. They were candid about their challenges, aware of their responsibilities, eager to tell the stories that will surprise and inspire. We hope everyone, at every life stage, will encounter an insight here that will open a door to new ambitions.”
Watch Firsts, featuring candid interviews with groundbreaking women from Oprah Winfrey to Madeleine Albright to Sheryl Sandberg, at time.com/firsts