This Week in History


Dianne Feinstein's career changed by violence

November 22, 1978
Feinstein, Dianne - still image [media]
Full image

Political pioneer, tough leader, crime fighter, reformer: These are some of the words that describe Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco and United States senator from California since 1992.

Institution: Senator Dianne Feinstein, California

On November 22, 1978, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated in City Hall by a former city supervisor, Dan White. Dianne Feinstein, who was then the President of the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, was the first to discover Harvey Milk’s body.

Feinstein, who was the first female president of the Board of Supervisors, was then sworn in as the first female mayor of San Francisco in Moscone’s stead. In 1979, she was elected to the first of two full terms as mayor. In 1992, she won a special Senate election to replace Pete Wilson who had left his seat to become governor of California. Joining her in winning election to the Senate in 1992 was Barbara Boxer, another Jewish woman. Feinstein was re-elected in 1994, 2000, and 2006.

Ashlee Temple plays Dianne Feinstein in the film Milk (2008) about Harvey Milk's life and the events leading up to his assassination.

To learn more about Dianne Feinstein, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History, November 3, 1992, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer Elected to Senate, and Jewish Women in Politics; Jewesses in politics represent! and Milestones for Jewesses in politics, Jewesses with Attitude.

Sources: E-mail communication to JWA from Senator Feinstein’s office, March, 2004;

See events for a specific date

This Week in History offers a unique calendar of American Jewish experience—connecting specific dates throughout the year to an array of compelling historic events related to American Jewish women.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Dianne Feinstein's career changed by violence." (Viewed on April 24, 2014) <>.