Did You Know: Sharlot Hall Was The First Woman In Territorial Office

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 10:27am
Updated: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 3:05pm
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(Photo courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum)
Sharlot Hall at age 17 in 1887.
(Photo courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum)
Sharlot Hall at Orchard Ranch feeding piglets.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Sharlot Hall purchased this Durant Star Touring car and used it despite the fact she was never taught to drive. Museum curators say residents would often get out of the way when they saw her coming, fearing she'd run them over. The vehicle sits in the Sh

There have been many women who have shaped Arizona. One in particular helped jump-start the preservation of our state’s history.

The history museum in Prescott is named after Sharlot Hall, the first woman to hold territorial office in Arizona and the woman who made the museum possible.

“She was the first woman to hold public office as a territorial historian, from 1909 to 1911,” said Mary Melcher from the Sharlot Hall Museum. "She traveled around the state and she collected stories of old timers and she collected artifacts and Indian relics.”

As we walked through the museum listening to the story about her life. Melcher explained how Sharlot Hall decided to commit her life to Arizona.

Hall and her family settled in Prescott in 1882. From an early age she decided not to marry. She wanted to learn and write about her interests. When she visited the governor’s mansion in high school, she became intrigued.

“She became interested in Arizona history. So as she’s writing, she’s writing about Arizona. And she’s writing about our resources and what’s here," Melcher said.

Preserving Arizona history was among Hall's major interests. In 1905 when Congress was considering making Arizona and New Mexico one state and entering it into the Union, Hall wrote a poem against the idea. A few years later she turned her efforts toward preserving the 1864 governor’s mansion. By 1909 she was appointed Territorial Historian.

“When she was territorial historian she went up to the Arizona strip which is north of the Colorado River, this little corner of the state up there and she did it in order to publicize what was going on up in that part of our state, so that it wouldn’t become Utah’s land,” Melcher said.

After her tenure as the territory’s historian, Hall became more involved in politics. By the late 1920s she turned the Governor’s Mansion into a public museum.

“You know, she lived in the governor’s mansion when they first opened it as a museum, she lived up in the attic. So, she maintained her commitment to history and to Arizona," Melcher said.

Sharlot Hall is described as a rancher, poet, writer, editor, an activist and a museum founder. She was also a women’s rights supporter. She never married. Melcher said Hall was against traditional marriages because she thought they oppressed women. Instead she joined national efforts like the freethought movement and was a lecturer on Arizona history.

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