In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020, the BYU Law Library has unveiled an exhibit of portraits by Utah artist Brooke Smart depicting women who were influential in obtaining suffrage for Utah women. The portraits include:

  • Seraph Young Ford, a niece of Brigham Young, and the first woman in the United States to legally vote in 1870. Wyoming beat Utah as the first state to grant women suffrage, but Utah held elections before Wyoming.
  • Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman elected to a state senate (Utah’s) in the United States.
  • Zitkála-Šá (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), a Yankton Dakota Sioux, musician and collector of Yankton stories, who worked for the rights of women and Native Americans.

The history of women’s suffrage in Utah is particularly interesting due to its complex relationship with polygamy. Some members of the pro-suffrage movement believed that if given suffrage, Utah women would vote down polygamy. Ironically, Congress, as part of its efforts to end polygamy in Utah (and thus “free women”), stripped Utah women, regardless of religious affiliation, of their state-granted suffrage rights  in 1887 with the Edmunds-Tucker Act. Utah women regained the right to vote along with the right to hold public office upon the ratification of the 1895 Utah Constitution and admission of Utah as a state on January 4, 1896.

Here’s a list of other books related to this semester’s LawReads title, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss:

You can find a 1917 version of the state-by-state women’s suffrage map discussed in the Woman’s Hour here.