The United States created Arizona Territory by splitting New Mexico Territory in half in February 1863. Unlike some other western territories, Arizona forestalled legally granting women the right to vote or hold office, despite efforts by suffragists in 1881, 1883, and 1885. In 1891, after President Benjamin Harrison denied Arizona statehood and included equal suffrage law included in its proposed state constitution territorial suffragettes founded the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association, combining the fight for women’s rights with the continued fight for statehood. In February 1912, Arizona finally became a state under President William Taft; though the new state constituion did not immediately afford women the right to vote, the women of the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association saw the constitution’s initiative laws as an opportunity to continue the fight for women’s votes.
On October 18, 1912, the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association invited Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Women’s Suffrage League, to visit Arizona and speak on the steps of the Coconino County Courthouse in Flagstaff. A month later, the initiative to introduce women’s suffrage to the ballot passed the legislature. On November 5, 1912, the state’s voters cast their ballots on the initiative, and the women’s suffrage initiative passed with a seventy percent majority victory, even with all of Arizona’s voters being men. This made the Arizona the tenth state to allow women to vote.
In April 2021, Coconino County unveiled a marker at the Flagstaff County Courthouse with the National Collaborative for Women’s History Site and Pomeroy Foundation to commemorate the centennial of women’s voting rights, marking the courthouse as a significant place for the history of women’s suffrage. Speakers that day included County Supervisors Matt Ryan and Patrice Hortsman as well as County Recorder Patty Hansen.