Maude Frazier

Maude Frazier, educator and legislator, worked to improve the state's education system, from the frontline as a teacher and from the state capitol as a lawmaker. She developed the Las Vegas school district during the 1930s and 1940s, brought higher education to Southern Nevada, and improved all of the state's school districts through her legislative work.

Born in 1881, Frazier grew up on a farm in Sauk County, Wisconsin. After high school, she took an exam and began to teach, but wanted more education. Against her father's wishes, she attended and graduated from the State Teacher's College in Wisconsin.

In 1906, Frazier arrived in Nevada to begin what would be fifteen years of teaching in a wide range of Nevada schools. From a two-room school in Genoa to a two-family ranch school in Lovelock, Frazier then followed the mining boom south, teaching in Beatty and Goldfield. In 1921, she applied for and won a position as Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Southern Nevada. At the time, there were few paved highways and she often drove over the desert on rutted dirt roads.

Frazier accepted the position of superintendent of the Las Vegas Union School District in 1927 when the district consisted of two elementary schools and an old high school. She pushed for the passage of a bond issue to build the new Las Vegas High School, now Las Vegas Academy. The bond for $350,000 faced opposition from members of the community who thought the school was much too large for the city, since it would accommodate about 500 students. A building at the school is named in her honor.

Frazier retired from the school district in 1946, then ran for the Nevada State Assembly in 1948 as a Democrat and lost. She was elected in 1950 to the assembly and served for twelve years. Frazier sat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee in 1955. She was also a member of the Education Committee where she pushed for the reorganization of the state education system, creating county-based school districts. Frazier wanted to see higher education in Southern Nevada. In April 1956, she was at the groundbreaking for Nevada Southern University, now the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The first building on campus was named in her honor.

Frazier was also the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor. Governor Grant Sawyer appointed her to complete last six months of the term of Rex Bell, who died in 1962 while in office.

Maude Frazier passed away on June 20, 1963.

Further Reading

Joanne L. Goodwin. American National Biography. “Maude Frazier.” Ed. John Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. New York: Oxford University Press , 1999.
James Hulse. The Maverick Spirit, Building the New Nevada. “Maude Frazier, Pioneering Educator and Lawmaker.” Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1999.

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