If you’ve seen media coverage of the 29-year-old first-year representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it would be easy to think that she’s the first of her kind. Democrats and Republicans alike appear to be in a perpetual state of slack-jawed bewilderment as they watch her stand up to powerful lobbyists, stomp on shibboleths and clap back at her trolls on Twitter.
But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez would be the first to tell you that she hails from a long line of defiant, outspoken congresswomen from New York. (And, of course, they aren’t just New Yorkers; Lori Lightfoot is preparing to be the first African-American woman
and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago’s mayor, running largely as an outsider candidate.) As the saying goes, history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes.
The story is in the photos from The New York Times archive. Beginning with Ruth Baker Pratt, who won her house seat in 1929, a series of New York women would fight their way onto Capitol Hill, defying expectations and breaking down barriers. Next came Edna Kelly, Brooklyn’s first congresswoman, who, among other things, helped establish the principle of equal pay for equal work.