Helen Ring Robinson

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Helen Ring Robinson
Helen Ring Robinson.jpeg
Helen Ring Robinson circa 1913
Colorado Senate
In office
Personal details
Born Helen Ring
Eastport, Maine, U.S.
Died 1923 (aged 44–45)
Denver, Colorado
Resting place Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Ewing Robinson (m. February 13, 1902)
Parents Thomas Warren Ring and Mary Margaret (Thompson) Ring

Helen Ring Robinson (1878–1923), was an American suffragist, writer, and political office holder. She was either the first[1] or the second[2] woman to serve as a state senator in the United States and the first in the Colorado State Senate. She was elected in 1913.[2][3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

She was born in 1878 in Eastport, Maine.



Robinson moved to Denver in 1895 and taught at Wolfe Hall until 1898, when she went to teach at the Wolcott School for Girls. It was established by a friend who also lived in Providence. It was during her time at Wolcott that she became acquainted with members of Denver society.[6]


She then began working in the newspaper industry. She spent ten years as a literary critic and editorial writer for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Times.[7]


After leading a crusade against Denver's poor water service, she was recruited to run for office. She was elected to the Colorado Senate for one four-year term in 1912, and took office in 1913. While in office, she was appointed chair of the Colorado State Senate Education Committee.[7] As a state senator, Robinson traveled the country making speeches on women's issues.[7]

Among the progressive laws she passed were a minimum wage law for women and an abatement for property used for prostitution – both efforts to limit prostitution. Women were not allowed to serve on juries at that time, although women had received the vote in Colorado in 1893. All of Robinson's bills on this issue failed. Consequently, women could not serve on juries in the state until 1944.

Personal life[edit]

She died in 1923.[1] Her body lay in state in the Capitol rotunda before her service. She was buried at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Died". Time magazine. July 23, 1923. Retrieved 2008-12-10. Mrs. Helen Ring Robinson, 45, of Colorado, first woman State Senator in the United States, suffrage leader, writer, lecturer, member of the Ford "peace pilgrimage" in 1915, at Denver, after a long illness. 
  2. ^ a b "Helen Ring Robinson". Political graveyard. Retrieved 2008-12-10. Robinson, Helen Ring (d. 1923) – of Denver, Colo. Democrat. Member of Colorado state senate, 1913–16. Female. First woman elected to Colorado Senate; second woman state senator in the United States. Author of a minimum wage law for women; also introduced a bill allowing women to serve as jurors. Died in 1923. Burial location unknown. 
  3. ^ "Senator Helen Ring Robinson Calls Herself the Housewives' Representative in Colorado". New York Times. November 23, 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-10. " Every city in every State in the country is in need of motherliness," said Senator Helen Ring Robinson of Colorado before the League for Political Education at the Hudson Theatre yesterday morning in telling her audience that it was the womanly woman who was needed in politics, not a creature recreated in the image of man. 
  4. ^ "Helen Ring Robinson". Swarthmore College. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Helen R. Robinson of Colorado Defends the Suffrage Cause". New York Times. September 22, 1915. Retrieved 2008-12-10. Senator Helen Ring Robinson of Colorado was in New York City yesterday after having given a week to the suffrage campaign work in the upper part of the State and a week in New Jersey. Senator Robinson says that while she is helping the women here she is also trying to put down the incessant criticism of the suffrage States by Eastern people. 
  6. ^ Pat Pascoe (November 1, 2011). Helen Ring Robinson. University Press of Colorado. p. multiple PTs. ISBN 978-1-4571-1167-9. 
  7. ^ a b c Weatherford, Doris. "Helen Ring Robinson (1878–1923)," Women in American Politics: History and Milestones (SAGE Publications, 2012), pp. 136–137.

Further reading[edit]

  • Helen Ring Robinson: Senator and Suffragist by Patricia Hill Pascoe (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2011)