Nellie Tayloe Ross – The First U.S. Female Governor

Nellie Tayloe Ross

Nellie Tayloe Ross (American Heritage Center)

On this date (Jan 5th) in 1925 Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first female governor in the United States when she was sworn in as the 14th governor of Wyoming. She handily won a special election to finish out the remaining term of her predecessor, who happened to be her husband, who passed away from complications with an appendectomy just 1.5 years into his elected term.

Her platform of tax cuts, government assistance for poor farmers, banking reform, and laws protecting children, women workers, and miners and the strengthening of prohibition laws were in lockstep with her late husbands.

Women had only had the vote nationwide for just over 4 years when Ross became governor.

Her strong support of the prohibition laws likely led to defeat in her bid for reelection in 1926. She served as governor from 1925 – 1927.

In 1928 she was a strong supporter and campaigner for Al Smith‘s presidential bid. Despite their diametrically opposed views on prohibition, Ross received 31 votes from ten states for vice president on the first ballot at the 1928 Democratic National Convention. She is believed to have been the first female given serious consideration for the position of Vice President of the United States, although Joseph Smith from Arkansas ultimately received the nomination.

When Smith lost to Herbert Hoover, Ross was offered the  job of director of the Women’s Division of the National Democratic Committee, which she accepted and moved to Washington D.C..

Nellie Tayloe Ross on her Mint medal designed by Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock

Nellie Tayloe Ross on her Mint medal designed by Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock

Ross was appointed director of the U.S. Mint by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 making her one of the first women to hold a federal post of that importance. During her 20-year term the mint introduced the Roosevelt dime, the Jefferson nickel, and the steel penny, the latter an emergency measure during World War II.

Roosevelt appointed her to (3) five-year terms in the job, and President Harry Truman appointed her to a fourth term, a role which she served in until her retirement 1953.

After  retirement,  she made a number of profitable real estate investments, contributed to a number of magazines, traveled extensively and spent time with her children and grandchildren.

Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross lived to the age of 101 (11/29/1876 – 12/19/1977), she passed away in Washington D.C.

Footnote: Ross had the distinction of becoming the first woman governor by a small margin; Miriam Ferguson was inaugurated governor of Texas just 16 days later.



December 1st is World AIDS Day

world-aids-dayWorld AIDS Day is observed each December 1st since being established in 1988 by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

The red ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.

AIDS came to the forefront of public awareness in 1981 when people started suffering and dying from a mysterious pneumonia in Los Angeles but experts have since traced the origins  of the HIV virus to between 1800’s – 1920’s.

HIV type 1, group M (HIV-1), the predominant cause of the AIDS epidemic, is believed to evolved from  Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIV) that crossed the species barrier from chimpanzees to humans between the 1800s and 1959, probably in the 1920’s, in Kinshasa, the capital of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Screenshot 2015-11-30 13.14.57The earliest confirmed HIV case in humans was found in blood drawn in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa. Something presumably allowed a human infection with a chimpanzee virus to spread widely enough to evolve into modern HIV, which could spread easily among humans. The most commonly accepted theory is that of the ‘Hunter‘. In this scenario, SIV was transferred to humans as a result of chimps being killed and eaten (bushmeat), or their blood getting into cuts or wounds on the human hunter.

The area around Kinshasa was full of transport links, such as paved roads, Belgium-backed railways and rivers. It also had a growing sex trade due to the large numbers of male labors that were drawn to the city around this time. The high population of migrants, estimated to be at 1 million per year and sex trade might explain how HIV spread along these transportation routes.

HIV AIDS StatsHIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It’s the virus that causes AIDS.  When a person is infected with HIV, the virus enters the body and then lives and multiplies primarily in the white blood cells —the immu1_HIV-AIDS-Statisticsne cells that normally protect us from disease.

stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

As HIV grows in an infected person, it damages or kills specific immune cells, weakening the immune system and leaving the person vulnerable to infections and illnesses ranging from pneumonia to cancer.

Contracting HIVor AIDS (source:

HIV is spread from an infected person to another person through direct contact with some of the body’s fluids. It is not spread easily.

HIV is NOT spread by:

  • Air or water
  • Insects, including mosquitoes or ticks
  • Saliva, tears, or sweat
  • Casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses
  • Drinking fountains
  • Toilet seats

Treatments / Cure

There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, meaning that there is no procedure or medication which has been scientifically proven to reliably eliminate the virus from a person’s body or reverse the damage to the immune system.

There have been numerous advances in HIV treatments and therapies in recent years that have dramatically improved the quality of life of people with HIV, and more people are living much longer with HIV.

Protecting against HIV

In addition to avoiding risky situations that are known to cause HIV, there is a drug known as  Truvada that has been beneficial in the prevention of the HIV infection. It reduces the risk of HIV infection but it does not cure HIV. Studies found that giving it to people who are uninfected but at high risk of getting exposed to HIV could lower their risk of getting HIV by as much as 90%.

Closing & Resources:

HIV / AIDS is a global pandemic that has claimed 39 million lives since 1981 with another 37 million people currently infected. 1.2 million died of HIV /AIDS just last year (2014).

This blog post was created to bring awareness to the size and scope as well as the impact that HIV / AIDS has in the world today. It’s certainly a big problem that is  not just claiming millions of  lives but it is also significantly impacting the communities, families and friends of all of those afflicted.

Many companies, volunteers, governments and NGO’s are working hard to drive the number of infections to zero and while growth has been slowed considerably as a results of these worldwide efforts, we haven’t turned the corner yet.

Despite the largest number of active HIV / AIDS cases being in Sub-Saharan Africa,  HIV / AIDS is everyone’s problem.