In 1922, Lucile Atcherson became the first woman appointed as a Foreign Service Officer. (At that time, the title was United States Diplomatic Officer or Consular Officer, since the U.S. did not establish the unified Foreign Service until 1924.)
Other women had previously served in the Department of State or overseas, but in clerical positions only.
Lucile Atcherson was born in 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Smith College in 1913. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement and during World War I worked overseas in the American Committee of Devastated France. She spoke French, German, and Spanish.
Even though her career was short (she left when she married in 1927), her breakthrough into the male-only world of U.S. diplomats led to Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hilary Clinton.
You can read more about Lucile’s life and career here: http://blogs.archives.gov/TextMessage/2013/09/09/an-archives-filled-with-firsts/