Anna Gates Home

FM Suffrage Tour

Anna Gates Home

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


While Esther Russell embodied many of the attributes common to American Suffrage fighters, Anna Gates was in many ways an outlier, though both served as Chairmen of District 49’s Minnesota Woman’s Suffrage Association at the same time.

Anna is the only immigrant on our list of local women involved in the Minnesota Woman’s Suffrage Association. She was born Anna Liedahl in Norway. She crossed the ocean to America at the age of nine in 1881. Her family settled near Leonard, North Dakota, about 40 miles southwest of Moorhead. She moved to Moorhead after meeting and marrying a letter carrier named Elbert Gates. Unlike Esther Russell and many other suffrage families in the FM area, the Gates were from a working-class background.

Soon after Suffrage was achieved, Anna Gates herself went to work. She became Moorhead’s first female police officer. Her official title was Police Matron, and today we would think of her as part cop, part social worker, part city food inspector. Officer Gates was called in to handle cases where the suspects were either women or children. She also organized the city’s charity drives to provide food and clothing to impoverished families during the Great Depression.

While Gates served as a chairman in Moorhead, she also did quite a lot of collaboration with the very active grassroots Woman’s Suffrage organizations in North Dakota. On October 8, 1914, the Wahpeton Times reported that she was working for suffrage while visiting her relatives back home: “Mrs. Anna Gates of Moorhead, Minnesota, who has been doing quite a little quiet work for suffrage among the farm women near Leonard reports a very encouraging prospect for suffrage in that region.” She was not a member of the Moorhead Woman’s Club but was instead an officer in the Fargo Progressive Club. As part of that group in 1912, Anna was one of the women in charge of bringing nationally-known Women’s rights icon Jane Addams to Fargo. Anna also served in the local W.T.C.U. chapter.

This point of interest is part of the tour: FM Suffrage Tour


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