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20th Century & Beyond

Josephine Roche: Police Woman and Labor Advocate

When: 1886 – 1976

josephine roche 1Where: Born in Nebraska and educated in New York, she moved to Denver in 1906

Why Important: Labor advocate, businesswoman, and Denver’s first female police officer

Biography

Josephine Roche was the first policewoman in Colorado,1 the first woman to run a major coal company, and the second woman to work for the President of the United States. Her father was president of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF).  When he died, she inherited some of his stock in the fuel company.  Over time, she used this money to speak out for people in poor working conditions.  With some of this money and stock she invited the United Mine Workers to unionize her mines. RMF was the first western coal company to sign a union contract and pay its miners $7 a day, which was considered a lot of money for mine workers at that time.

Josephine Roche as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury with Surgeon General H.S. Cumming circa 1935(credit: Library of Congress)
Josephine Roche as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury with Surgeon General H.S. Cumming circa 1935
(credit: Library of Congress)

Josephine tried to become the governor of Colorado, but she wasn’t elected.2 However, Franklin Roosevelt, president of the United States, appointed her Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.3

Content Date: Jan. 1, 1886 to Jan. 1, 1976

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Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame