When Thaddeus Caraway died near the end of his second term as a United States Senator from Arkansas, Governor Harvey Parnell appointed Caraway's widow, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, to the seat
On January 12, 1932, after winning a special election to fill the remaining months of her late husband's term, Hattie Caraway became the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate.
In November 1932, she won election to her first full term to the United States Senate and held the seat until January 2, 1945.
Although Hattie Caraway was the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate, she was not the first woman to serve in the body. The first woman to serve in the United States Senate was Rebecca Felton of Georgia. She was appointed to the Senate by Governor Thomas Hardwick to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Thomas E. Watson. Rebecca Felton served just two days, November 21 and 22, 1922, and was not a candidate in the election to fill the vacancy.
For more information on Hattie Caraway, Rebecca Felton, and other women who have served in the United States Senate, see the United States Senate: Women in the Senate.