Anne Henrietta Martin was born into a large Irish-German family in Empire, Nevada, near Carson City. She was the daughter of a prominent Populist politician and businessman. Martin was well-educated at a school for girls and at the University of Nevada, from which she graduated in 1894. She earned a second bachelor's and a master's degree in history from Stanford University (1896, 1897). She
was also a superb athlete and equestrian, excelling especially in tennis and golf. Martin founded and headed the History Department at
the University of Nevada in 1897 and from
1899 to 1901 continued her graduate studies in New York, London, and Leipzig.
After receiving an inheritance from her share of the family business following her father's death in 1901, Martin traveled in Asia and Europe. She later said that the dismissal of her business acumen in favor of her brothers' had made her a feminist. While in England, Martin became interested in Fabianism and joined in the militant British suffrage movement. In 1910 she was arrested for
participating in a demonstration in London.
In 1911 Martin returned to Nevada, where she became the press secretary and then the president for the Nevada Equal Franchise Society (NEFS, later the Nevada Woman's Civic League). Under her leadership, the NEFS lobbied successfully for ratification of a state woman suffrage amendment in 1914.
Martin was a member of the executive committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) as well as the executive committee of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU). She was chosen as the NWP's first chairman at its founding convention in Chicago in June 1916 (when it began as the Woman's Party of Western Voters, comprised of women from the 12 suffrage states).
Martin was among the organizers who targeted congressional campaigns in the fall of 1916. She traveled and spoke widely to sway voters to boycott the Democratic Party unless it began to facilitate congressional action on a federal suffrage amendment. Martin was selected vice-chairman and legislative chairman of the NWP when it formally merged with the CU in March 1917. Based in Washington,
D.C., from 1916 to 1918, she coordinated work in various congressional districts and organized pressure from the state level on national legislators. With the advent of World War I, Martin argued with U.S. senators that woman suffrage should be passed in order to allow women to respond to the war effort. In July 1917 she was arrested for picketing at the White House.
In 1918 and 1920, Martin was an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada. She ran to promote pacifist and child welfare positions as well as to advance the role of women officeholders. She garnered support in her campaign from veteran NWP activists Sara Bard Field and Mabel Vernon, as well as from feminist theorist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Martin moved to Carmel, California, with her mother. She became an activist in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in the 1920s. She served as a national board member from 1926 to 1936 and as a regional director and international delegate, but eventually parted ways with the organization because she believed it failed to
prioritize feminist goals. Martin was also a vocal opponent of the policies of the League of Women Voters for their emphasis on education rather than direct political action. Martin died in Carmel.