Free Library of Philadelphia
1.  Who was the first American woman astronaut?

Dr. Sally K. Ride of Stanford, CA was the first American woman astronaut. She served as a crew member aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it was launched on June 18, 1983. Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman from any country to fly in space on June 18, 1983.

Source: Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History, 1997, p.530, Joseph Nathan Kane, 031.02 K132F 5th ED

2.  Who was the first African American woman astronaut?
Mae C. Jemison, from Chicago, IL, was the first African American woman astronaut. On September 12, 1992 she boarded the space shuttle Endeavor.

Source: Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events, 2003, p.621-622, Jessie Carney Smith, 909.0496 SM61B
3.  Who was the first man to walk on the moon?
Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969 at 10:56 PM EDT.

Source: Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History, 1997, p.529, Joseph Nathan Kane, 031.02 K132F 5th ED
4.  Where did the phrase "the opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" originate?

Dan Cook, sports broadcaster and writer for the San Antonio Express, said this during a TV newscast in April 1978, after the first basketball playoff game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Bullets. He said this to illustrate the fact that although the Spurs had won once, the series was not over yet.

Source: Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service, 1989, p.341, Suzy Platt, 808.82 R312Q, or LC 14:2 D56

5.  Who invented the first automatic traffic light?

The first automatic traffic light was invented in 1923 by Garrett A. Morgan, an African American inventor in Cleveland, OH.

Source: Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History, 1997, p.283, Joseph Nathan Kane, 031.02 K132F 5th ED

6.  Which two presidents died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1826?

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. They were also the only two presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Source: Presidential Fact Book, 1998, p.347, Joseph Nathan Kane, 973.033 K133P; The Declaration of Independence from the NARA website

7.  Who was the first African American to serve in Congress?
Joseph Hayne Rainey, a Republican from Georgetown, S.C., was sworn into Congress on Dec. 12, 1870, when the House declared the seat of Benjamin F. Whittemore vacant. Rainey served ten years until March 3, 1879.

Source: Famous First Facts About American Politics, 2001, p.59, Steven Anzovin, 973 An99f
8.  Who was the first African American woman to serve in Congress?

The first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives was Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm. She was a New York City Democrat and was elected on November 5, 1968 from the 12th District in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. She was sworn in on January 3, 1969 and was reelected six times.

Source: Famous First Facts About American Politics, 2001, p.61, Steven Anzovin, 973 An99f

9.  Who was the Royal Family of the American stage?

The Drew/Barrymore family is considered to be the Royal Family of the American Stage. John Drew (1827-1862) came to America from Dublin early in his life, and he was a prominent actor. He married Louisa Lane (1820-1897) who was a noted character actress. Their careers were associated with the Arch Street Theater in Philadelphia. John Drew (1853-1927), their son, was born in Philadelphia, and he also was an actor working for Augustin Daly’s company in New York. Georgiana (1856-1893), their daughter, was a great comedian and she married Maurice Barrymore, an English actor. They had three children, Lionel, Ethel, and John. Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954) was a character actor, Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) was an actress, and John Barrymore (1882-1942) was also an actor. John Barrymore is also the grandfather to movie actress Drew Barrymore.

Source: Philadelphia: The Fabulous City of Firsts, 1976, p.31, G. Don Fairbairn, 974.81 F15p, and The Internet Movie Database biography of John Barrymore.

10.  Where is Betsy Ross, thought to be the maker of the first American flag, buried?

Betsy Ross, or Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole (1752-1836), was first buried in the Free Quaker Cemetery at 5th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia. When it was abandoned in 1857, she and her third husband were moved to Mount Moriah Cemetery at 62nd and Kingsessing Avenue. Near the end of 1975 her descendents got a court order to have her disinterred and reburied in the garden of her home at 239 Arch Street.

Source: Resting Places: The Burial Sites of Over 7,000 Famous Persons, 2001, p.319, Scott Wilson, 920.02 W697R

11.  Who was the first African American to be nominated as a presidential candidate in the United States?

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was nominated for the United States Presidency at the Republican Convention in 1888. He received one vote.

Source: Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events, 2003, p.313-314, Jessie Carney Smith, 909.0496 SM61B

12.  What Philadelphian is considered the father of American psychiatry?

The Surgeon-General to the Revolutionary Army, Dr. Benjamin Rush invented a "tranquilizing chair" in 1800 for the mentally unstable. He was an advocate of humane treatment for the mentally unwell.

Source: Philly Firsts: The Famous, Infamous, and Quirky of the City of Brotherly Love, 1999, p.83, Janice L. Booker, 974.811 B644P

13.  Where is John Barrymore buried?

John Barrymore (1882-1942) died at 60 from liver and heart disease. He was originally entombed in block 352, crypt F-3, mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles. In December 1980 the casket was removed on orders from his son John Drew Barrymore, cremated, and the ashes taken by him to the Drew-Blythe plot in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia. The grave was unmarked until 1998.

Source: Resting Places: The Burial Sites of Over 7,000 Famous Persons, 2001, p.21, Scott Wilson, 920.02 W697R

14.  Who was the first African American woman elected to a state legislature?

Crystal Bird Fauset (1893-1965), of Philadelphia, was elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature in 1938.

Source: Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events, 2003, p.262, Jessie Carney Smith, 909.0496 Sm61b

15.  Where and when was Marian Anderson born?

Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897, and she died in Portland, OR on April 8, 1993. She was an African American contralto opera singer, and she was refused entry to the Philadelphia Music Academy on racial grounds. In 1955 she made her debut in opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Ulrica. She was the first black singer for the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Source: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001, v.1 p. 615, Stanley Sadie, 780.3 N42G2

16.  One of the greatest female jazz singers was born in Philadelphia. Who was she?

Eleanora Harris was born on April 7, 1915 at Philadelphia General Hospital. She would grow up to be Billie Holiday.

Source: Billie Holiday, 1995, p.18, Stuart Nicholson, 784.53 H724N