Helen Ring Robinson

First Female State Senator in Colorado

In January 1913, Helen R. Robinson (D-Denver) became the first woman elected to the state Senate. Prior to serving in the Senate, Sen. Robinson was a teacher and a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News.

Interested in women’s equality, Sen. Robinson introduced a bill stating that women should be able to sit on juries. The bill did not pass.

In an effort to stop girls being forced into prostitution by poverty, Sen. Robinson passed a minimum wage law for women. She also passed a bill to issue abatements for any property used for prostitution.

Sen. Robinson sponsored legislation to improve the pay of teachers and to extend the number of months that children were required to attend school each year. She urged adequate funding and enlightened treatment for the mentally ill.

Sen. Robinson was an active suffragette, advocating for women to have the vote across the United States and in Europe. Her suffrage work took her to nearly every state and to international conferences in Madrid and Geneva.

In 1915 Sen. Robinson was invited to accompany Henry Ford on a trip to Europe, in the interest of peace. The leaders on the Henry Ford Peace Ship wanted to stop World War I through the continuous mediation of neutral nations.  Unfortunately, they failed, but their work laid the groundwork for the League of Nations.

(photo of Helen Ring Robinson from The Library of Congress Flickr project, a participant Flickr’s The Commons project)

More information about Helen Robinson:

Colorado General Assembly Biographical Information

Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame

New York Times Article about trip to Europe

Article in Moving Picture World about Robinson’s appearance in a film

Preparing Women for Citizenship, by Helen Ring Robinson, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1918 (a digitalized Google book)

Former Sen. Pat Pascoe has written a book about Sen. Robinson. See Sen. Pascoe’s website for information about  her book: Helen Ring Robinson, Colorado Senator and Suffragist.


Note: The information on this page is made available through the generosity of the Colorado Legislative Women’s Caucus, which has asked us to preserve, maintain and promote information they gathered.

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