Before women had the right to vote, Kate Barnard was the first woman elected to a statewide office. In 1907, she was elected Oklahoma’s commissioner of charities and corrections, serving until 1915.
During the constitutional convention, she single-handedly secured the constitutional ban on child labor. As commissioner, she fought to eradicate unsafe working conditions, especially in mines, and was one of the few politicians who dared to speak against the abuse of Native American children and orphans.
She was also responsible for discovering the inhumane treatment of Oklahomans in Kansas prisons. She may be considered one of Oklahoma’s most outstanding politicians.