Rosalie Keli'inoi (1875-1952)

The daughter of a Hawaiian mother and Portuguese merchant and rancher, Rosalie Enos was born in 1875 on the island of Maui in the town of Wailuku.  She studied at St. Anthony's School for Girls prior to marrying saloon owner and politician Thomas Lyons, with whom she had seven children.  They divorced in 1916.  A second marriage, to politically active Samuel Keli'inoi, was her entrance to politics. She and Samuel moved to Kapaa, Kauai in 1917.

 

  Hawaii had an active women's rights movement, but unlike other western territories and states, it was not successful in winning women's right to vote.  The territory's women were enfranchised, along with those of the other states and territories, with the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Rosalie Keli'noi was elected just four years later, in 1924.

   

She sponsored major legislation to grant property rights to married women.  The preservation of native Hawaiian culture was a great priority for her, and she backed the purchase of the vacation home of historic Queen Emma Kaleleonalani in Kailau, Kona, which has become a museum.  Much ahead of her time, she also worked for funding to protect the health of pregnant women and their infants. She only served one term. 

   

Rosalie Keli'noni died in 1952 – seven years before Hawaii became a state.

Image credit: Courtesy of HONOLULU Magazine.