Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) was the first woman elected to Congress.
She was actually elected twice — once in 1916, once in 1940 — and was “the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.”
When asked in 1917 if she knew of any babies named for her, she responded: “Oh, yes. I’ve three namesakes already. I wrote to their mothers and asked for the babies’ pictures, and I hope they all grow to be Congresswomen.”
As it happens, 1916 and 1917 were the years the baby name Jeannette saw peak usage in the U.S. overall:
- 1918: 1077 baby girls named Jeannette [ranked 185th]
- 1917: 1113 baby girls named Jeannette [ranked 177th]
- 1916: 1082 baby girls named Jeannette [ranked 173rd]
- 1915: 903 baby girls named Jeannette [ranked 187th]
So far I’ve tracked down about a dozen of Rankin’s namesakes, including Jeannette Rankin Wright (b. 1917) of North Carolina.
- “Congresswoman from Montana, Idol of Suffrage, Here on Visit.” New York Tribune 25 Feb. 1917: 9.
- Women in Congress – Jeannette Rankin, Representative from Montana