Arlene Violet was elected Rhode Island Attorney General in November 1984. Violet served one term as AG from January 1985 until January 1987.

What was unusual about Violet's election was that she was a woman the first woman ever elected Attorney General in United States history and she was a nun.

Arlene Violet was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1943 into a middle-class, French-Catholic, "Republican voting" family. Violet attended Providence College before entering the Sisters of Mercy convent in 1961. She took her final vows eight years later, in 1969.

After earning a bachelor's degree from Newport's Salve Regina University in the 1970s, Violet taught school before enrolling in Boston College Law School.

Providence Nun Was The Nation's First Female Attorney General
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

After graduating from BC in 1974, Violet clerked and became an intern, then worked for the consumer protection division within the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office. She rejoined the convent in an administrative position until the early 1980s.

In 1984, Violet was elected Attorney General of Rhode Island as a Republican after losing a race in 1982 to longtime Democrat incumbent Dennis Roberts. Violet became the first elected female Attorney General in the United States.

During the campaign, the Bishop of Providence ordered Violet to withdraw from the race. She refused and instead left the order.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

Once elected, Violet took on issues of organized crime, victims' rights and banking reform. Violet sounded the alarm about the state's looming banking crisis, but members of the General Assembly ignored her warnings.

In her autobiography Convictions: My Journey From the Convent to the Courtroom, Violet recalls picketing a Fall River Catholic daycare center targeted for closure by the Bishop. Violet was threatened with excommunication until the Diocese backed down.

Providence Nun Was The Nation's First Female Attorney General
WSBE Rhode Island PBS via YouTube

Since leaving office in 1987, Violet has hosted wildly successful radio talk programs, appeared regularly on local television, written books, newspaper columns,and a play, and has starred in Nunsense at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Violet has been included in Marquis Who's Who, The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame and The Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Fame, among other honors.

A long-time resident of Barrington, Rhode Island, Violet is an active attorney who continues to tease the idea of seeking public office.

Violet is affectionately referred to by some Rhode Islanders as "Attila the Nun."

LOOK: Milestones in women's history from the year you were born

Women have left marks on everything from entertainment and music to space exploration, athletics, and technology. Each passing year and new milestone makes it clear both how recent this history-making is in relation to the rest of the country, as well as how far we still need to go. The resulting timeline shows that women are constantly making history worthy of best-selling biographies and classroom textbooks; someone just needs to write about them.

Scroll through to find out when women in the U.S. and around the world won rights, the names of women who shattered the glass ceiling, and which country's women banded together to end a civil war.

LOOK: What are the odds that these 50 totally random events will happen to you?

Stacker took the guesswork out of 50 random events to determine just how likely they are to actually happen. They sourced their information from government statistics, scientific articles, and other primary documents. Keep reading to find out why expectant parents shouldn't count on due dates -- and why you should be more worried about dying on your birthday than living to 100 years old.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420