Latina Suffragette to be featured on U.S. Quarter
Nina Otero-Warren will be displayed on the back of a new series of quarters minted in 2022.
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This year, the back of the quarter will show something different. Or rather, someone.
Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico leader in the suffrage movement, will be featured on the back of the quarters minted for 2022.
This is a part of the U.S. mint’s American Women Quarters Program, a four year program designed to feature prominent women from American history.
Otero-Warren was born in 1881, in New Mexico. At the age of 11, she left her current school to attend Maryville College of the Sacred Heart (now Maryville University) in St. Louis, Missouri for two years, before returning home to help educate her siblings and work on her family ranch.
At the age of 16, when her family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she became socially active among the city’s elite. There, she met her future husband Rawson D. Warren, before divorcing him after two years of marriage. Though she did not change her name afterwards, she referred to herself as “widowed”, due to social stigmas associated with divorce.
Over the next few years she would begin her work in fighting for women’s suffrage. Her actions gained her the attention of Dr. Alice Paul, the founder of the National Woman’s Party (then known as the Congressional Union) of which Otero-Warren became the New Mexico chapter’s head.
As head of the chapter, she pushed for suffrage literature to be published both in English and Spanish to reach the widest audience. She worked alongside other self-proclaimed “nuevomexicanas” like Soledad Chávez Chacón, New Mexico’s first secretary of state, and folklorist Aurora Lucero.
In 1918, she would become the first Latina Superintendent of Public Schools in Santa Fe County. During her time as superintendent, the U.S. government was pushing for the forced assimilation of all non-whites, meaning the erasure of non-English language, non-white cultural traditions, and even family ties.
Despite a federal order mandating only English in schools, Otero-Warren fought for both Spanish and English to be taught in schools. Later in 1923, as Santa Fe County’s Inspector of Indian Schools, she would push back against the government’s Native American school system (also known as the American Indian Residential Schools) for their terrible conditions.
In 1921, she ran for federal office, winning the Republican Party nomination for the House of Representatives, but lost the vote by nine percent. By publishing her policies and performing outreach in both English and Spanish, her candidacy was widely known among Spanish-speaking New Mexicans.
Even after her departure from Superintendent, she would continue to serve as Chair of New Mexico’s Board of Health, an executive Board Member of the American Red Cross, and director of a New Mexico program to increase adult literacy for the Works Projects Administration.
Otero-Warren would spend the last decades of her life founding and homesteading a 1,257 acre ranch, and a real estate and insurance company in the 1930s. Both were named “Las Dos” (The Two Women) and she managed them alongside her partner Mamie Meadors, a fellow suffragette, whom she had met in the 1920s and lived with on the ranch until Meadors death in 1951.
She would manage Las Dos until her death in 1965. Her book, “Old Spain in Our Southwest,” was published in 1936, describing her memories of her family’s hacienda in Las Lunas.