Contributed by Gilli Richman
Adelina Otero-Warren was born on October 23, 1881. In 1916, Otero-Warren was elected to head New Mexico’s chapter of the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage, soon to be the National Woman’s Party (NWP). A year later, she took the role of chair of the NWP at the request of Alice Paul. Adelina Otero-Warren was the first female superintendent of public schools until 1929 in Santa Fe and inspector of Indian schools throughout the 1920’s. She advocated for adult education programs, raising teacher salaries, creating a county high school, and elevating the conditions of schools to promote greater education. She fought to protect the study of Hispanic art and wanted to preserve bicultural education. She was the first Hispanic woman to run for the United States Congress in 1922 and won the Republican Party’s nomination while running against a male opponent, although she was defeated in the general election. She served as New Mexico’s Director of Literacy Education for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. Additionally, she worked with Mamie Meadors in homesteading 1,257 acres of land which they named Las Dos (“The Two Women”). She continued her work into the 1940’s as director of the Works Progress Administration in Puerto Rico. Otero-Warren published a book titled “Old Spain in Our Southwest”, a compilation of stories from her childhood in Los Lunas.
Additionally, she was a leader in New Mexico’s women’s suffrage movement. Otero-Warren saw a need for Spanish-speaking leaders in the suffrage movement because of the large number of Hispanic women who wanted to fight for women’s rights to vote. She knew that gaining the support of the Latinx community was key to victoriously creating suffrage on a national level. Therefore, Otero-Warren was a key force in the lobbying effort to ratify the 19th Amendment in New Mexico. She fought to improve education for New Mexicans and worked to preserve the cultural practices of the state’s Hispanic and Native American communities. She insisted that suffrage literature in the southwest be published in both English and Spanish in order to be inclusive of all and to reach a greater audience that she knew was ready to join the cause. Otero-Warren passed away in 1965 but her impact on women’s suffrage was tremendous within the United States. In 2022, the United States Mint honored her with her portrait on an American Women’s Quarter made to honor the accomplishments of American Women.