Frances Willard Munds  (b. 1866, d. 1948)
Frances Willard Munds Frances Willard Munds lived in this historic
home that is located in Prescott. It is called the
Sewall House.
Frances Willard Munds started her career as a school teacher in rural Yavapai County but soon joined the Arizona Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association. A driving force in securing the vote for Arizona women in 1912, she gained election to the Arizona State Senate in 1914, becoming the first woman to serve in that legislative body and the third in the nation to become a state senator.

Region: North Central
Theme: Women in Politics and Government

Frances Willard was born in Franklin, California, the daughter of pioneers. In 1885, she graduated from Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine. She taught school in several Arizona towns, such as Pine, Payson, Mayer and Jerome, before marrying John L. Munds in 1890. The Munds first lived in Cottonwood and then Prescott, where John was the deputy sheriff and sheriff.

Frances Munds was an early member of Prescott's Monday Club, the first Arizona branch of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. She also became an active member of the Arizona Woman's Christian Temperance Union which led to her involvement in the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association in 1903. From 1909 to 1912, she served as president of the later organization. In that capacity, she reached out to Mormon women, many of whom assumed leadership positions working for suffrage. Munds and other suffragists tried repeatedly to secure the vote through the territorial legislature but were unsuccessful. They also lobbied for a pro-suffrage plank during Arizona's constitutional convention. Munds made several speeches at the Arizona constitutional convention in favor of suffrage but to no avail.

Finally the women used the recently approved state initiative measure to gain the right to vote. In order to put the initiative on Arizona's first state ballot, they had to convince the male voters to support it. Munds and other suffragists celebrated when the initiative granting women the right to vote passed in November of 1912.

Frances Munds and her family lived in several homes on Mount Vernon Street in Prescott, but the Sewall House is the only one still standing. Privately owned, it is listed as a historic site on the National Register. Munds planned many of her suffrage activities from the parlor of her home where she met with some of the most important politicians of her day. This residence is a drive-by site, located at 220 N. Mount Vernon in Prescott.

For additional information see the following:

Osselaer, Heidi J. Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009.

Photo Credits:
Frances Willard Munds - Courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, Archives Division, 97-7430
Sewall House - Courtesy of Arizona State Historic Preservation Office


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