In 1912, one year after women won the right to vote in California, Luella Johnston became the first woman elected to Sacramento’s city council, and to any city council in the state. She played an integral role linking the local clubwomen, progressive, and suffrage movements in California’s capital city. Her remarkable life provides a case study of how women in the early 1900s acquired and used political power, and in doing so changed their own and public perceptions of a woman’s role in the public sphere.
From Socialite to Public Servant: Luella Johnston and the Evolution of “True Womanhood” in Sacramento
Nicolas Heidorn is an attorney and former adjunct professor at McGeorge School of Law. He received his bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He is cofounder of Sacramentality.com, a website dedicated to Sacramento politics, culture, and history. A series of posts he wrote about Luella Johnston led the city council in 2018 to rename its historic council chambers in her honor.
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Nicolas Heidorn; From Socialite to Public Servant: Luella Johnston and the Evolution of “True Womanhood” in Sacramento. California History 24 December 2020; 97 (4): 83–114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2020.97.4.83
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