Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Grace Ballard, 1877-1939

by Brianna Coltrane, Rosemont College

Grace Ballard was born on August 12, 1877, in Washington County, Nebraska. She was the daughter of lawyer Martin Ballard and Sarah Darinda Strong Ballard. She spent her early years in Blair, Nebraska, and attended and graduated from Blair High School. In 1904, she graduated from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, and continued her studies at the University of Nebraska College of Law between 1911 and 1914. She was the president of her law class, which was rare for a woman. After graduating from law school, Ballard began a career in politics in 1915 by working as a campaign speaker and organizer for the women's suffrage movement in Pennsylvania and New York. She joined the Pennsylvania Women's Suffrage Association, and later became one of the first female court attorneys in Blair, Nebraska.

In 1916, Ballard continued campaigning in Iowa, where she was offered the job of manager. She respectfully declined, stating she only wanted to speak, and she continued working for the suffrage movement in Illinois and Nebraska. Ballard spoke to her audiences about the movements past defeats, explained the key factors for those defeats, and then discussed the steps necessary in order to prevent history repeating itself. On February 11, 1916, Ballard spoke to an audience that included members of the Political Equality Club. In her speech she provided advice on how to campaign to win. The audience was so impressed with her speech that it brought in new members to the club.

In 1918, Ballard ran for county attorney and won, serving four years as the first female attorney in Nebraska. After her first term, she went into private practice and later became secretary of the Republican County Central Committee. She then served two more terms as county attorney, 1934 to 1938. She was re-elected to another term in December 1938, but did not complete the term due to failing health. Ballard never married and had no children. She died of a heart attack on August 23, 1939.


Adams County Free Press, Feb. 16, 1916, 1,

"Our Rural Department," Adams County (Iowa) Free Press, June 7, 1916, 7,

Bain, Tammy, "People of the Past: Grace Ballard Served as One of First Female County Attorneys in U.S.," Washington County Pilot-Tribune & Enterprise, Aug. 24, 2015,

Burroughs, Jean, "Activities in Women's Clubs, The Lincoln (Nebraska) Sunday Star, Aug 6, 1916, p. 15,

"Grace Ballard," Find a,

"Woman Retains Prosecutor Job," Mansfield (Ohio) News-Journal, Dec. 20, 1938, p. 3,

"Woman's Place Is Where She Likes to Be, Asserts Miss Grace Ballard, Again County Attorney at Blair," Lincoln (Nebraska) State Journal, June 25, 1937.

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