Today, in 1933, a smart woman named Nellie T Ross became the 1st female director of the US Mint.
Here’s her story:
On Oct. 4, 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross watched as her husband’s coffin was lowered into the ground. William B. Ross had been governor of Wyoming for only a year and 10 months. Twelve days earlier he had suffered severe abdominal pains after a day making speeches in Laramie. It was appendicitis. He died Oct. 2.
Nellie was devastated. She managed to hide it in public but broke down when she was alone with her brother.
That afternoon, back at the governor’s mansion, the chairman of the state Democratic Committee knocked on the door and asked a delicate question: Would Mrs. Ross consider running for governor herself? The election was a month away.
Nellie Tayloe about 1900 with her brothers, Albert and George, and their father, James. (American Heritage Center.)
Nellie’s three sons with their grandparents, ca. 1920. L. to r.: Bradford, Ambrose, Lizzie and James Tayloe, George. (American Heritage Center.)
Nellie’s brother George and other friends advised her not to run for governor. Yet she needed the money, or at least some kind of job to support herself and her boys. So she decided to run. She won easily, as it turned out, by 8,000 votes out of 79,000 cast—a much bigger victory than her husband’s was two years earlier. Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected the first woman governor in the nation.
She was inaugurated Jan. 5, 1925—the first woman governor in the nation.
Governor Nellie T. Ross about the time of her inauguration, with three former Wyoming governors,
l. to r.: U.S. Sen. F.E. Warren, former Gov. Robert Carey, and Sen. John B. Kendrick. (American Heritage Center.)
Governor Nellie Ross, second from right, in Washington, D.C., 1925. Her friend Eula B. Kendrick is on the left, and Grace Coolige, wife of President Calvin Coolidge, is in the center. (Wyoming State Archives.)
Nellie went right to work. She was still a Democrat swimming in a sea of Republicans.
A campaign card, from Gov. Ross’s 1926 re-election campaign. (American Heritage Center.)
Nellie ran again in 1926 and lost. She lost by only 1,365 out of about 70,000 votes cast.
After Roosevelt took office as president in 1933, he named Nellie director of the Bureau of the Mint, the government agency responsible for making new bills, new coins and melting down old ones. It was a big job, and Nellie was the first woman to hold it. Roosevelt appointed her to three five-year stints in the job, and President Harry Truman, also a Democrat, appointed her to a fourth.
Thank you so much, Wyoming State Historical Society