Please join the Arizona Women’s History Alliance in making history by supporting our efforts to honor a woman whose dedicated service led to Arizona women receiving the right to vote in 1912.
Who was Frances Willard Munds?
Frances Willard Munds (1868-1948)
Frances Willard moved to Arizona during the 1880s and taught school in rural Arizona for several years before marrying John Munds, who later served as sheriff of Yavapai County. Frances became involved in the Arizona Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Prescott and soon discovered that women needed the power of the vote to really improve their lives. She joined the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association in 1903 and served as the organization’s president from 1909 to 1912.
Arizona women had been fighting to win the vote since the 1880s and had attempted to gain suffrage through the Territorial Legislature and through the constitutional convention, but they had not succeeded. After Arizona became a state in 1912, they decided to use the newly granted power of the initiative to take the issue of woman suffrage to the people. Munds was president of the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association at this time.
She was a consummate strategist and under her direction, Arizona suffragists created a powerful coalition supporting woman suffrage, made up of miners, labor leaders, farmers, ranchers, Mormons, Democrats, and Republicans. The suffragists worked tirelessly to convince male voters to sign a petition to put the suffrage initiative on the ballot. After completing this task, they had to persuade male voters to support the initiative measure that would give Arizona women the right to vote. They were successful with over 60 percent of voters approving women’s suffrage during the fall election of 1912.
Frances Munds went on to serve in the state senate in 1914. She was only the third female state senator in the country and told the press, “Our friends, the true blue conservatives will be shocked to think of a grandmother sitting in the state Senate.” During her term, Munds introduced bills to protect women and children, including legislation to raise pension benefits for widows and to protect young girls from prostitution. She ran for secretary of state in 1916 but lost.
For more information, see Winning Their Place by Heidi Osselaer.