The Real Madam Secretary: 64, 66 and 67

Women's History Month is a great time to look back at some of the women who have served in our federal government.

In 1789, Thomas Jefferson was appointed the first Secretary of State. More than 200 years later, Madeleine Albright was appointed the 64th Secretary of State by President Bill Clinton. She was the first woman to hold the office. At the time of her appointment, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of U.S. government.

Condoleezza Rice was appointed the 66th Secretary of State by President George W. Bush. That appointment was significant because although she was neither the first woman nor the first African-American (that distinction goes to her predecessor Colin Powell), she was the first African-American woman.

Both of these women have childhoods worth paying attention to. If you're interested in learning how the daughter of asylum seekers from Czechoslovakia and a woman who grew up under Jim Crow laws in Birmingham, Ala., became the highest-ranking females in the Executive branch, these memoirs are illuminating and inspiring:

Extraordinary, Ordinary People
Prague Winter

President Obama appointed Hillary Clinton the 67th Secretary of State. A former first lady with roots in Chicagoland, she served in the position from 2009 to 2013. Just like Albright's Madam Secretary and Rice's NO HIGHER HONOR, Clinton wrote a memoir of her time in office, Hard Choices.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library