Nellie Tayloe Ross signing her oath of office as governor of Wyoming on Jan. 5, 1925. Behind her are, from left; Judge Samuel Tayloe, her brother; George Ross, her son; Mrs. Alfred Tayloe, her sister in law; William Bradford Ross, her youngest son; and Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice C.N. Potter, who administered the oath of office. (Wyoming State Archives)

At this inauguration time, WyoFile takes a look back at a history-making moment when Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first female governor of a state, the Equality State — Wyoming.

Wyoming residents elected Ross governor of Wyoming on Nov. 5, 1924. It was the same day Texas also elected a woman governor, Ma Ferguson, but Ross took office first.

Ross ran as a Democrat following the death of her husband, Gov. William B. Ross, on Oct 2, 1924, according to history summaries at the Wyoming State Archives. After his death, she was offered the job of state librarian, but rejected that in favor of a shot at the governorship. She did not campaign, but others took up her cause.

She won over E.J. Sullivan with 55 percent of the vote. She ran for reelection in 1926 but lost to Frank Emerson. Ross became director of the U.S. Mint in 1933 and was the longest-serving director, holding the job for 20 years.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at or (307)...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *