Facts about Nina Otero-Warren
Nina Otero-Warren Biography
Nina Otero-Warren is the New Mexican woman remembered for her early work on behalf of the region’s Hispanic and Native American residents, and for support of the successful campaign to win the vote for women in America.
Nina Otero-Warren was born to a wealthy Hispanic family in the New Mexico Territory; when she was a toddler, her father was shot and killed by a white squatters who were trying to claim part of the family’s land. Nina went to St. Vincent’s Academy in Albuquerque, then at age 11 went to Maryville College of the Sacred Heart (now Maryville University) in St. Louis, which she attended from 1892-94.
Her family moved to Santa Fe in 1897. She married Rawson D. Warren there in 1907, becoming Nina Otero-Warren; she divorced her husband two years later but kept the hyphenated name. In 1912 she moved to New York City, where she became involved with the work of Anne Morgan, who ran a settlement house that helped working-class women.
Returning to New Mexico (which had become a U.S. state in 1912), she began working with the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, fighting to give women the right to vote in elections. Her charisma, Hispanic background, and ability to speak Spanish gave her extra influence in the region, and in 1917 she became the head of the Union’s New Mexico chapter. (The nationwide suffrage campaign succeeded with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.)
Otero-Warren was hired as Superintendent of Public Schools for Santa Fe County in 1918, and served until 1929. She is particularly known for her support for bi-lingual education and other efforts to help Hispanic and Native American youth, during a time when both groups were often treated badly. In 1922 she became the first New Mexican woman ever to run for U.S. Congress, winning the Republican nomination but losing in the general election.
In later years she remained active in social and political causes, serving as Chair of New Mexico’s Board of Health and leading an adult literacy program in New Mexico for the Works Projects Administration. She also opened Los Dos Realty and Insurance Company in Santa Fe with her longtime friend, Mamie Meadors.
In 2022, Nina Otero-Warren joined Sally Ride and Maya Angelou as part of the first group of women featured in the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program. The quarters featured George Washington on the front; on the back of Otero-Warren’s coin was an image of her with the words Voto para la mujer (“Votes for women”).
Her cousin, Miguel Antonio Otero II, was the first native-born governor of the New Mexico Territory (1897-1906)… Nina Otero-Warren married Rawson D. Warren, a U.S. Army cavalry officer, in 1906. They divorced in 1908. To avoid the social stigma that divorce carried in that era, Otero-Warren sometimes told people that her she was a widow rather than a divorcee.
Something in Common with Nina Otero-Warren
4 Good Links
- Wonderful biography, good starting place for students
- The U.S. Mint celebrates her 2022 appearance
- Reprint of a 1995 column in The Santa Fe New Mexican, saluting her career
- WomensHistory.org has a nice bio of Otero-Warren (and many others)