Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren (1881-1965), New Mexico Suffragist.
Bergere Family Collection, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Back to Biographies
Back to Suffrage in New Mexico
Nina Otero-Warren's Spanish conquistador ancestors dramatically altered the social and political landscape in Santa Fe
more than three hundred years before she herself made waves as a twentieth-century suffragist, educator, and businesswoman.
Nina Maria Adeline Isabel Emilia Otero was born in Las Lunas, New Mexico, in 1881. Her conservative, prosperous parents
traced their heritage to eleventh-century Spain. As Nina grew up, newly built railroads began bringing Anglos, commerce,
and rapid change to her hometown. She attended Maryville College in Saint Louis from 1892 to 1894, then moved to Santa Fe
when her uncle Miguel Otero was appointed territorial governor of New Mexico. There, she eventually married Lieutenant
Rawson Warren in 1908. The marriage was short-lived, and Nina remained childless and independent for the rest of her
years, though she helped raise her siblings after her mother's death. She focused on her professional life and politics,
becoming one of New Mexico's most admired female leaders.
By 1914, Otero-Warren was drawn to the women's suffrage campaign in New Mexico when Alice Paul's Congressional Union
(forerunner of the Woman's Party) sent talented organizers into the state. Otero-Warren soon rose to leadership ranks in
the state Congressional Union (CU), rallying support among both Spanish- and English-speaking communities. Her family
connections helped as well, as she was the niece of the popular head of New Mexico's Republican Party. Although New Mexico
never legalized women's right to vote prior to ratification of the 19th Amendment, Otero-Warren's patient but incessant
badgering of the New Mexico congressional delegation convinced them to vote in favor of the amendment in 1920.
From 1917 to 1929, Otero-Warren served as one of New Mexico's first female government officials, as Santa Fe
Superintendent of Instruction, and chair of the State Board of Health. By 1922, she won the Republican Party nomination
to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Although she lost her bid for Congress, a few years later she was appointed
as state director of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Otero-Warren's contributions to her community were not just in the political realm. She headed efforts to preserve
historic structures in Santa Fe and Taos and built close ties with the artists, writers, and intellectuals who congregated
in the area during the 1930s and 1940s. She was instrumental in renewing interest in and respect for Hispanic and Indian
culture, which had for a time faced scorn and ridicule.
Otero-Warren and a close friend purchased a large ranch outside Santa Fe that they called "Las Dos." In the 1930s,
Otero-Warren's adobe house overlooking the Sangre de Cristo Mountains attracted visitors and inspired artists and writers.
Her own book, Old Spain in Our Southwest (1936), recorded her memories of the family hacienda in Las Lunas. She continued
her life at Las Dos as a businesswoman, educator, writer, and political activist until her death in 1965.