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Anna Johnson Gates


Anna Johnson Gates (January 25, 1889-January 12, 1939) was West Virginia’s first female state legislator. A native of East Bank, Kanawha County, she was elected to the House of Delegates in 1922 and served a single term.

Gates sponsored 13 pieces of legislation during the legislative session, and five of her bills were passed. Among her successes was ‘‘Mother’s Pensions’’ legislation, a state welfare program to provide income to any woman with children whose husband was unable to support the family. State legislation of this type was being approved across the nation at the time. Gates was also successful in getting a bill passed that provided the Kanawha County Board of Education the authority to establish, support, and maintain a public library. She chaired the House Committee on Arts, Science and General Improvements.

Previously a suffrage worker, Gates was elected to the legislature just three years after women received the right to vote. She chaired the Kanawha County Women’s Democratic Executive Committee and was a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for president.