Rebecca Hurn Monument
The Rebecca Hurn Monument was erected on August 3, 2018, at Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane, Washington. The Hurn Monument was funded by the Fairmount Memorial Association, Spokane Historical Monuments Committee, Spokane Regional Law Enforcement Museum, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Spokane Corral of the Westerners. Rebecca Hurn was the first female to serve as a Senator for the state of Washington. Hurn was also the first female lawyer in the state of Washington. Her monument is the 25th to be erected on one of the Fairmount Memorial Association properties since 2006.
Backstory and Context
Rebecca “Reba” Jane Hurn was born August 21, 1881, in Iowa. Hurn’s parents were David W. Hurn, Spokane attorney and Superior Court Judge, and Harriet Hurn. Hurn had moved to Spokane with her father in 1905. She was a graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois. She then went to Germany to continue her studies. While attending Heidelberg University in 1907, she met Nathan Strauss, the co-owner of Macy’s Department Store. She quit her studies and joined him in his international work in which he promoted pasteurization of milk. She eventually managed the Nathan Strauss Infant Milk Depots.
Furthermore, Hurn was the chair of the New York committee for William Jennings Bryan during this 1908 campaign for the presidency. She moved back to Spokane in 1910, and she became the first female lawyer in Washington in 1913. Hurn graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1913. She then managed her father’s judicial campaign. Hurn was elected the first female Senator of Washington in 1922.
In Washington, women had the right to vote since 1910. Ten years previous to Hurn’s election, Frances C. Axtell was the first woman elected to the Washington House in 1912. Hurn was reelected in 1926 as Senator to represent Spokane through the 1920s. She lost the 1930 reelection because Democrats beat Republicans nationwide due to the economic depression. Once she became Senator, the opening greeting of the Senate sessions was amended to say “gentlemen of the Senate and Miss Hurn.”
Hurn had adventured throughout her life as she traveled in the Middle East. At age 65, she moved to the Middle East. She lived in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt from 1946 to 1948. She stayed near the region where the state of Israel was formed while it was still being formed. Hurn also translated the Koran, the sacred Islamic book, to English. She traveled nearly until the time of her death in 1967. She was 86 years old and was buried in Spokane next to her parents.
Rae Anna Victor, regent of the Jonas Babcock Chapter of the DAR, said, “Our precept is to select people who have made a difference in our community or region that have been forgotten or not properly recognized for their role in our history. I think we also chose Reba because she was a unique woman of her time. We hear so much about women shattering the glass ceiling today. She was doing this over a century ago. She is a true example for the young women of today.”1
2. Tinsley, Jesse. The Spokesman-Review, The Spokesman-Review, August 09, 2018, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/aug/09/landmarks-monument-dedicated-to-rebecca-hurn-spoka/
3. Tinsley, Jesse. The Spokesman-Review, The Spokesman-Review, August 09, 2018, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/aug/09/landmarks-monument-dedicated-to-rebecca-hurn-spoka/
4. Weatherford, Doris. Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. Thousand Oaks, CA. CQ Press, 2012.
5.Becker, Sharon. Rebecca Jane "Reba" Hurn. Cerro Gordo County Iowa. November 2017. Accessed September 17, 2018. http://iagenweb.org/cerrogordo/biographies/cg_bio_hurnreba.htm.
6. Cerro Gordo County Iowa, Cerro Gordo County Iowa IaGenWeb Project, November 2017, http://iagenweb.org/cerrogordo/biographies/cg_bio_hurnreba.htm.