Women's History Consortium
Frances C. Axtell
Frances Axtell, courtesy Washington State Archives.
- Birth: June 12, 1866, Rock Falls/Sterling, Illinois
- Death: April 1, 1953, Seattle, Washington
- Party Affiliation: Republican
- Years Served: 1913-1915
- Office: Representative
- District: 54 (Whatcom County)
Wrote several articles on “What Women are Thinking and Doing”
Married to Dr. William Axtell, an early Bellingham physician, who died in 1927. The couple had two daughters.
DePauw University graduate, 1889
Active in civic affairs and club work in Bellingham
Kappa Alpha Theta member
University Presbyterian Church
Woman’s Century Club
Legislative and State Service
Illustration of Frances C. Axtell, WSHS Collections.
One of two women first elected to the Washington State Legislature
Focused on minimum wage legislation, public safety issues and worker’s rights
Promoted initiative, referendum and recall measures
Committees: (1913) Appropriations; Corporations other than Municipal and Railroads; Education; State University; Water and Water Rights other than Irrigation
House Bills sponsored: (1913 session)
- 19-Amending section 2457, Remington & Ballinger’s Code, defining the crime of adultery. Reported out of committee and died.
- 20-Amending subdivision 3, section 2436, Remington & Ballinger’s Code, relating to carnal knowledge of children. Reported out of committee and died.
- 21-Changing the rule of evidence in cases of crime against morality and repealing section 2443, Remington & Ballinger’s Code. Signed by Governor Lister.
- 353-Relating to construction of a woman’s building for the University of Washington. Never went to first reading.
- 472-Relating to the appointment of members of the state board of control. Went to first reading.
- 626-Relating to city health officers. Went to first reading.
Leadership, Positions, and Appointments
Ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the U.S. House from District 2 in 1916
Ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the nomination for U.S. Senate in 1922
Ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the U.S. House from District 2 in 1926
Vice-Chairman of the United States Employees’ Compensation Commission in Washington, D.C. from 1917 to 1921. Appointed by President Wilson, she was the first woman named by any president for such a federal position. She assisted in fixing the minimum wage for women in mercantile establishments.
Acting chairman of the Washington State La Follette-Wheeler campaign, 1924
Frances Axtell Graves, courtesy Axtell family.
- "Time and Tide," a biography of Frances C. Axtell written by Frances Axtell Graves. Courtesy of Axtell family.
- November 13, 1948 speech Frances Axtell gave at a homecoming luncheon.
- See the results of the 1916 Washington General Election for U.S. Congressional District 2, the 1922 Washington U.S. Senate Primary, and the 1926 Washington General Election for U.S. Congressional District 2 in which Frances Axtell unsucessfully ran for office. Courtesy Washington State Archives.
- "Cartoonist Reynolds, At Olympia, Sketches Some Representatives, Masculine and Feminine, and Some Other Folks." Political cartoon by Edward S. "Tige" Reynolds, The Oregonian, January 26, 1913.
- Frances Axtell's Legacy Award citation from the Bellingham YWCA Northwest Women's Hall of Fame.
- HistoryLink's essay, "Axtell, Frances (1866-1953)"
- National Women's History Museum biography on Frances Axtell, as part of Women Wielding Power: Pioneer Female State Legislators presentation
- The Washington State Heritage Center exhibit, "Moving Forward, Looking Back: Washington's First Women in Government." Includes Frances Axtell biography.
- "Washington's New Political Boss - A Woman!," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 29, 1912.
- "Wild Race In 90's On Injun Pony Won Boom Lots For Our Village Teacher," The Lynden Tribune, June 5, 1952, pg. 1.