Place of Birth
Date of Birth
1838 – 1887
Activism & Advocacy
The Pikes Peak Library District
In 1854-1855, young Anna and her abolitionist family joined the emigration to “Bleeding Kansas.” The Archibalds helped found the anti-slavery stronghold Lawrence, Kansas. In 1857, Anna married James Holmes, a lieutenant of the abolitionist vigilante John Brown. Like so many of their early Kansas neighbors, however, the couple leapt from abolitionism to Pikes Peak fever. They joined the Lawrence Party, one of the first to make the two-month trek in the Colorado Gold Rush of 1858.
Holmes made a name for herself, women’s equality, and Colorado’s “beautiful scenery” by recording her observations to be published back east. She purposefully traveled in the controversial Bloomer Costume—Turkish pantaloons under a mid-calf-length dress—and took stands for women’s equality en route. She chose to walk, insisted she share men’s guard duty, and achieved her great climb. Along the way, she described Colorado gold-camp life, drinking from a “Boiling spring,” climbing “sublime” Pikes Peak, and praising the “glorious sight” from the cold summit. Leaving a remarkable record for Colorado history, Holmes, later a single working mother, joined her own mother in Washington, D.C., and rose to a government directorship. She started women’s suffrage associations and helped her sister organize female clerks. In 1871, these Archibald women attempted to register to vote, as part of the national suffrage campaign. Thus, Julia Anna Archibald Holmes dedicated her life to proving women’s equality by trekking to Colorado to participate in the Gold Rush and being the first woman to climb Pikes Peak.