Geraldine Ferraro, the first american woman of a major party to run for the Vice Presidency.

By virtue of her nomination by a major political party for the Vice Presidency of the United States, Geraldine Ferraro is one of the few Italian American women who is mentioned by name in traditional American History textbooks. She was born Geraldine Anne Ferraro (1935-) in Newburgh, New York, the only daughter of Italian immigrant Dominick Ferraro and Antoinette Corrieri Ferraro. With the death of her father while she was still child, the difficult task of breadwinner fell to her mother who moved to Queens, New York to earn a living crocheting beads on wedding dresses and gowns.

Ferraro's formal education included a Catholic school for girls and a scholarship to Marymount College. From 1956 to 1960 she taught in the New York City public schools and also attended classes at Fordham University where she received her law degree in 1960. She married John Zaccaro and had three children while engaged in a private law practice until 1974 when she became an assistant district attorney in Queens. It is of interest to note that the first Ferraro to become well known in Queens was her cousin Nicholas Ferraro, who had been a State Senator and then was Queens County District Attorney. Although Geraldine had been known as Mrs. Zaccaro for many years, the decision was made that it would be much smarter for her to use the familiar Ferraro name in the Queens public arena. In 1978 Geraldine Ferraro decided to run for a vacant Congress seat winning the general election to become the first female congressperson from Queens. An attractive, perky and lively personality who generally espoused liberal causes, she quickly rose to important posts within her party's structure, becoming the first woman to be named chair of the National Platform Committee of the Democratic Party in 1984. Walter Mondale, the party's presidential candidate that year, made history when he selected Geraldine to be his running mate -a calculated decision to appeal to women and ethnics and to have on his ticket a spirited campaigner. Geraldine, recognizing how significant and historic it was to be officially designated for that post, stated, "America is a land where dreams can come true for all of us…. Tonight the daughter of an immigrant from Italy has been chosen to run for vice president in the new land my father came to love." Notwithstanding that the Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost, history was made. Although she did not hold public office in subsequent years, she has been a regular commentator concerned with public issues on a national television program.

Ferraro with President Jimmy Carter
Ferraro with actor Paul Sorvino

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