Sharlot Hall

On this date in 1870, historian and freethinker Sharlot Mabridth Hall was born in Lincoln County, Kansas. She moved with her family to Arizona at the age of 11. She worked for room and board to attend Prescott High School briefly to escape ranch life but was forced to return home when her mother became ill. Hall took up photography and explored ancient Indian cliff dwellings with her brother. Seeing the lot of women of her era and taking a jaundiced view of the “egotism of the average man,” she vowed never to marry.

When her family attended lectures by freethinker Samuel Putnam in Prescott in 1895, the 24-year old Hall joined him on the platform. She wrote for The Truth Seeker, a major freethought periodical, as well as for many newspapers, and met many leading reformers such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Two volumes of Hall’s poetry were published. She began taking oral histories of Arizona pioneers. In 1909, territorial governor Richard Sloan appointed her territorial historian, giving her a Phoenix office.

Supported by the Federation of Women’s Clubs, she traveled throughout Arizona collecting history. After statehood was won, the first governor dismissed her in 1912. After a reclusive retirement caring for family members, she returned to work at age 57 in 1927 when she was given a life lease on the governor’s mansion to restore it as a museum of history in the city of Prescott. The mansion and Sharlot Hall Museum remain open to the public. D. 1943.

Freedom From Religion Foundation