Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Bird May Wilson, 1865-1946

By Kathleen F. Noneman, lawyer, member of Nevada Women's History Project.

Vice President, Nevada Equal Franchise Society, 1913-14; Author, Women Under Nevada Laws, 1912-1913.

Bird May Wilson grew up in Indiana. After studying to be a Court Reporter in Chicago, she moved to San Francisco where she worked for Federal Judge William W. Morrow, a prominent legislator and jurist. When in his employ, Bird graduated from Hastings Law School with honors. She was admitted to the practice of law before both Federal and State courts in California.

Bird moved to Nevada shortly after the San Francisco earthquake and was licensed to practice law on June 28, 1906, just the seventh woman to be admitted to the profession in Nevada. She began practice in Manhattan, Nevada, where she concentrated on general civil, contract and mining law. Bird Wilson prospered there and became a stock broker, owned a ranch in Indian Springs and had mining interests in Round Mountain, Tonopah and Goldfield.

Bird Wilson was interested in the plight of women and children. She lobbied in both the 1913 and 1915 Nevada State Legislatures for suffrage and for the rights on women and children. During the suffrage campaign on 1913-14, she was vice president of the Equal Franchise Society and in charge of organizing suffrage workers in Southern Nevada. The Equal Franchise Society distributed over 20,000 copies of her suffrage campaign pamphlet, Women under Nevada Laws, which Bird wrote to inform citizens that although women had no representation in government, they were required to pay taxes the same as men.

Published works:

Bird M. Wilson. Women Under Nevada Laws, 1912-1913


Chicago Legal News
"Girl Lawyer in Federal Courts," Chicago Legal News, June 6, 1903, p.349, col.4.

Phillip I. Earl, Bird M. Wilson, Nevada Historical Society.

Mary Erickson, Women Lawyers' Male Connectedness, Stanford University, 1988. Accessed 2/12/05.

Jean Ford, Bird Wilson, Dramatic Script "The Saga of Nevada Women's Suffrage."

The Hayward Semi-Weekly Review
"Hayward Social Activities," The Hayward Semi-Weekly Review, May 6, 1930.

Ann Bail Howard, The Long Campaign: A Biography of Anne Martin. Reno, NV. University of Nevada Press, 1985.

Nevada State Journal
"Young Truckee Woman Wins a High Honor," Nevada State Journal, June 10, 1905.
"World Famous Suffragists Aid in Fight," Nevada State Journal, February 2, 1913.
"In the Realm of Society," Nevada State Journal, November 2, 1913.
"Miss Martin to Work in East," Nevada State Journal, June 19, 1915.
"Pumping Irrigation a Success in South," Nevada State Journal, June 23, 1915.
"Official Federated Club Notes," Nevada State Journal, November 12, 1916.

Kathleen Noneman, "Bird Wilson." A Biography on the Nevada Women's History Project website.

Reno Evening Gazette
"Recognition for Nevada," Reno Evening Gazette, December 23, 1912.
"Convention is Ended Today," Reno Evening Gazette, February 25, 1914.
"Nevada Federation of Women's Clubs Ready for Big Meeting," Reno Evening Gazette, October 21, 1916.

Tonopah Bonanza
"A Lady Lawyer at Manhattan," Tonopah Bonanza, May 19, 1906.
"Lady Broker in Town," Tonopah Bonanza, August 18, 1906.
"A Woman Lawyer Wins Her Case," Tonopah Bonanza, October 15, 1907.

Application for Membership to The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C. completed by Bird May Wilson, on May 31, 1910 in Goldfield, Nevada.

Goldfield Women's Club Collection, MS 10, Minute Book, UNLV Special Collections, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Charles Erskine Wood Papers, Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.

Anne Martin Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California.

United States Federal Censuses for 1860 and 1930.

California Death Index 1930-1947. "Bird M. Wilson."


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