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Elizabeth Wooster

Lorraine Wooster

Educator, first Kansas woman elected to statewide office. 1870-1953

Kansans first elected a woman to statewide public office in 1918 in the person of Lorraine Elizabeth Wooster. Lizzie, as she preferred to be called, was elected state superintendent of public instruction at a time when 12,000 of the state's 15,000 teachers were female. The fact that the majority of teachers were women had been one of her major arguments in her campaign.

Prior to her election Lizzie Wooster had written a number of textbooks and initiated and won a law suit against the railroads that forced them to lower freight rates on textbooks from $1.09 to $.59 per hundred. Holding office from 1919-1923, Lizzie served two terms as superintendent of public instruction. Her defeat for a third term was due, in part, to her strict moral stands against teachers who smoked, drank, danced, or wore makeup.

A lawyer who served as vice president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, Wooster again ran for public office in 1932 when she entered the Republican primary as a candidate for attorney general. She was unsuccessful, but she continued to be active in party politics and educational and legal concerns until her death in 1953.

Wooster was prominent in national educational circles and will be remembered for being the first woman to hold a statewide elective office in Kansas.

Entry: Wooster, Elizabeth

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2003

Date Modified: July 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.