Julia Archibald Holmes

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Julia Archibald Holmes
Julia Archibald Holmes, circa 1870
Born(1838-02-15)February 15, 1838
Noel, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedJanuary 19, 1887(1887-01-19) (aged 48)
James H. Holmes (m. 1857)

Julia Annie Archibald Holmes (February 15, 1838 – January 19, 1887) was a Canadian-American suffragist, abolitionist, mountaineer and journalist.


Holmes was born in 1838 in Noel, Nova Scotia, Canada, and moved to Massachusetts with her family in 1848. Her father, James Archibald, was an abolitionist, while her mother Julia was a strong supporter of women's suffrage.[1] The Archibald family relocated again in 1854 to Lawrence, Kansas to assist in the abolitionist efforts sparked by the Kansas–Nebraska Act; their Kansas home served as part of the Underground Railroad.[2] In 1857, she married James H. Holmes, an abolitionist whom she had met through her father's friend John Brown.[1]

Julia and James Holmes traveled to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in 1858 with a group of gold miners.[3] When the party arrived at the foot of Pikes Peak, the Holmeses decided to attempt to climb the mountain with J. D. Miller and George Peck. They reached the summit on August 5, 1858, making Julia Holmes the first woman to have climbed Pikes Peak.[4][5] From the summit, she wrote in a letter to her mother: "Nearly everyone tried to discourage me from attempting it, but I believed that I should succeed; and now here I am, and I feel that I would not have missed this glorious sight for anything at all."[4]

After climbing Pikes Peak, Holmes and her husband moved to Taos, New Mexico, where she worked as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune.[1] She had four children before divorcing her husband in 1870 and relocating to Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Spanish Correspondence Division of the Bureau of Education, the first woman member, eventually advancing to the division chief.[5][6]

Holmes was heavily involved in the women's suffrage movement in the 1860s and 1870s. She was a secretary for the National Woman Suffrage Association and spoke at the first National Woman Suffrage Association convention in 1869.[2][6] She was involved in setting up associations for the movement in Washington, D.C. and, to aid the suffrage campaign, she attempted to register to vote in 1871.[7] She was a friend of Susan B. Anthony.[8]

Holmes died in 1887. She was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in March 2014.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Davant, Jeanne (May 15, 2001). "Woman's 1858 hike to summit blazed trail". The Gazette.
  2. ^ a b "Julia A. Holmes" (PDF). Pikes Peak Library District. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Benzel, Lance (January 25, 2009). "She wore the pants this climb ; Talk details historic ascent of Pikes Peak by woman". The Gazette.
  4. ^ a b Robertson, Janet (2003). The Magnificent Mountain Women: Adventures in the Colorado Rockies. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 2–6.
  5. ^ a b Barbara, Morgan (2002). "Holmes, Julia Archibald (1838–1887)". Women in World History.
  6. ^ a b Howe Jewett, June (June 16, 1999). "First White Woman to Climb Pikes Peak". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  7. ^ a b McGraw, Carol (March 19, 2014). "10 to Be Inducted into Colorado Women's Hall of Fame". The Gazette.
  8. ^ "Women's Rights Wends West". El Defensor Chieftain. March 3, 1986.