Wyoming Libraries Asked to Get Ready for Women’s Suffrage Celebration



In 2019 and 2020, the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Celebration is planned to mark the sesquicentennials of the 1869 law that granted women in Wyoming Territory the right to vote and the first time a woman exercised that franchise in a general election in Laramie in 1870.

Governor Matt Mead has established the Governor’s Council on Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Celebration to provide strategy, advice, and advocacy to foster the planning and delivery of a range of events. Chris Van Burgh, Database Instruction Librarian at the Wyoming State Library, was named to the Council in October to represent the libraries of the state and the WSL on the education subcommittee.

“We’re encouraging our public and school libraries to think now on how they can create celebrations and programming,” Van Burgh said. “As we’re looking at bringing events out to communities across Wyoming, libraries are a great place to start.” Libraries that have questions or ideas about participating are welcome to contact Chris at chris.vanburgh@wyo.gov or (307) 777-3642.

Wyoming was the first government in the world to grant women’s suffrage when Territorial Governor John Allen Campbell signed it into law on December 10, 1869—a distinction that earned it the nickname, “The Equality State.” On September 6, 1870, Louisa Swain of Laramie became the first woman to vote in a general election. The Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Celebration will run from December 2019 to September 2020 in honor of these dates.

Wyoming successfully fought for the right of its women to vote when it was admitted as the 44th state in 1890. In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women’s suffrage nationwide. To recognize and honor both South Pass City, home of prominent Wyoming suffragists Esther Hobart Morris and William H. Bright, and the 19th Amendment, a 19-mile segment of Wyoming Highway 28 southwest of South Pass city was recently designated thee “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Pathway.

The Wyoming State Library has already posted a Women’s Suffrage in Wyoming LibGuide created by the Wyoming State Archives. Chris is currently working with the Council’s education subcommittee on projects such as a Wyoming women coloring book and creating a repository for the original Territorial and State documents.

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