As a pioneer newspaper proofreader and editor, Pauline Bates Brown worked to publicize women’s issues and elevate the status of Arizona women by founding and supporting women’s organizations and organizing events to support working women.
Pauline was born March 26, 1901 in Oklahoma Territory to John and Elizabeth (Davis) Cooper. She married Gifford T. Bates in 1920 and came to Arizona in 1927 in the hopes the clear air would improve her health. She was divorced in 1937 and married Ralph Brown. She was the mother of two children.
In 1931 the Arizona Republic hired Pauline. During the early part of the 20th century female reporters were not permitted to cover “hard” news, nor were they permitted to join the Arizona Press Association, an organization that restricted its membership to male reporters. However, when the Arizona Press Association held its annual meeting in March of each year, female writers were able to contribute more diverse articles.
Pauline was the first woman Sunday editor of the Arizona Republic. From 1931-1940, in her capacity as editor of the annual Women’s Issue of the Arizona Republic, she wrote a series of stinging editorials about national and state issues affecting women. She publicized women’s issues like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Arizona women’s jury bill, child welfare and child labor. A fervent feminist, she consistently urged women to be active in legislative events and to vote.
In 1953, Pauline was one of the founders of the Arizona Press Women, an organization formed to increase professional advancement and networking opportunities for women journalists. She served as its second President in 1954. She was also a member of the National Federation of Press Women and won many awards for photography, poetry and news writing. She was a role model and mentor for women journalists for over 30 years
During WWII she served as the only woman director of a state War Information Office in the United States. During the war, she also worked at the Japanese Relocation Camp in Poston, Arizona. Following the war, she worked in the Arizona Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1951-1962 and strove to increase educational and scholarship opportunities for Native Americans. In that capacity, in 1957 she secured 107 five year scholarships for Native Americans from the Beta Sigma Sorority. In 1962 the Department of the Interior awarded her the Commendable Service Award. She died in Phoenix on February 4, 1963.