Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Nancy Kirkland, 1871-?

By Kalie McQuillen, student, Colorado State University

Nancy Kirkland was born in Maryland in 1871, to Irish immigrant parents. Nancy married Samuel Kirkland, also of Maryland. The couple had three children--Marion, Dorothy, and Helen, born in 1898, 1903, and 1890, respectively. Samuel was also involved in the Colorado politics, working as a staff member for Secretary of State James R. Noland. Samuel died suddenly in February, 1918. As of the 1940 census, Nancy was living in Denver with her granddaughter, and appears to have never remarried. Her year of death is unknown.

While information on the specifics of Kirkland's role in suffrage specifically is scarce, a trail shows her contributions. She is mentioned in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, for her Democratic efforts, as a representative at the Democratic National Committee. Beginning in 1908, Colorado women were sent as delegates or alternates to presidential nominating conventions. Kirkland represented the 1st district of Denver at the 1916 Democratic National Convention along with Frank Bishop.

Kirkland continued to be heavily involved in Democratic politics in Colorado. In 1918, Kirkland served as vice chairman of the Denver Democratic Committee. In November, 1922, she was appointed a two-year term as commissioner for the Denver County Civil Service Commission. However, her time in Colorado politics was fraught with some controversy.

In March of 1919, Kirkland was named in the legal proceedings of the People v. Bradley. Following Colorado Governor Julius C. Gunter's retirement, the members of the civil service commission he had appointed were challenged in court. Eventually the petition was dismissed, and Kirkland kept her commissioner position. Gossip persisted in Denver of the possibility of the removal of all incumbent members of the state civil service commission when Governor William Sweet took office in 1923. Kirkland, William Roberts and all the others were rumored to have been spoilsmen, without excuse and without apology. In 1923, Governor Sweet made public his plans to dismiss Kirkland and William Roberts, based on grounds that they were discriminating against persons in connection with the civil service examinations.


Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, eds. History of woman suffrage. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881. [LINK]

Colorado Civil Service Commission. Second Biennial Report of The State Civil Service Commission of Colorado 1921-1922. Denver: 1922.

The Pacific Reporter. Vol. 179 (1884)

"1916 Democratic National Convention." Political Graveyard. Accessed April 14, 2017.

"Supreme Court Favors Gunter Commission." Chaffee County Democrat. March 8, 1919.

"Would be Justified." Craig Empire. No. 49, (December 27, 1922.

"Notes from the Capitol." Loveland Daily Herald. Vol. 9, no 66 (February 12, 1918).

"Sweet Delays Dismissal of Commissioners." Fort Collins Courier. July 2, 1923.

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