The first female governor in the USA, the only female to serve as governor of Wyoming to this day, and the first woman to direct the US Mint.
Nellie Tayloe Ross was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. When she was 8 years old, her family moved to Kansas, and after her graduation, they moved again, this time to Omaha, Nebraska, where she attended a teacher-training college and taught kindergarten and private piano lessons.
At 26, she married William Bradford Ross and joined him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he was an active member of the Democratic Party.
In 1922, William Bradford Ross was elected as the governor of Wyoming, but he died after one year and ten months in office.
The Democratic Party nominated Nellie to run for office, replacing her husband.
She won the election, becoming the first female governor of a state and still the only woman to have served as governor of Wyoming, at the age of 49.
As governor, Ross called for banking reform, tax cuts, government assistance for poor farmers, laws protecting women workers, miners, and the prohibition of child labor.
Though Ross lost the re-election of 1926, she remained active in the Democratic Party, served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as the director of the DNC Women’s Division.
In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as director of the US Mint, and Ross became the first woman to serve in this position, which she held for 20 years.
Upon her retirement, Ross published articles in various women’s magazines and traveled across the country. She died in Washington, DC at the age of 101.
“I … do not represent the over-powering, masculine, militant type of ‘politician’ that violates their sense of what the Lord intended a woman should be”
Another Interesting Anecdote:
- Her brother tried to prevent her from running for governor; he was afraid that losing the election would be too emotional for her, especially after her husband’s death.