150 years of suffrage celebrated across Wyoming

An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage and to Hold Office was passed Dec. 10, 1869.

Public domain

An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage and to Hold Office was passed Dec. 10, 1869.

   Women’s suffrage was first passed in Wyoming in 1869 on Dec. 10th. This past year, Wyoming, also known as the “Equality State”, celebrated its 150th year of women’s suffrage.

   At the beginning of 2019, the year was declared as the “Year of Wyoming Women.” Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, commented on the declaration. “We are proud to declare 2019 the ‘Year of Wyoming Women,’ as the home of many firsts for women in the country and the world. Determination, resiliency and the pioneering spirit is built into the DNA of the West, so it’s no surprise to me that the strong women of Wyoming helped to pave the way for women’s suffrage.” 

   To celebrate the 150th year of women’s right to vote, a 19-mile strip of Highway 28 was named “Women’s Suffrage Pathway” to symbolize the advancement of Women’s Suffrage in Wyoming and the nation.

   The University of Wyoming also had several events this past fall and winter to commemorate the historic year for Wyoming women and women around the country. From September to October, UW held a limerick contest, testing and challenging young people to do research and create their own poem to remember suffragists and suffragettes. Their Homecoming theme was “Breaking Through,” to convey the connection between the past and future in order to symbolize breaking barriers and creating new frontiers and futures. UW had also included a few courses in semester classes to introduce and teach about feminism and suffrage in more depth.

   On Dec. 10, Wyoming Public Media had a “Day of Dedication” to honor Women’s Suffrage Celebration, and there was a musical performance at the Cheyenne Capitol by the Bel Canto Women’s Chorus.

   The Wyoming Territorial Legislation of 1869 was “an act to grant the women of Wyo. Territory the right of suffrage, and to hold office.” Theories as to why Wyoming was the first to allow women to vote are that there were very few women in the western United States, and that they granted women’s suffrage to seem more appealing to female migrants. Another reason that women were allowed to vote, however, was to boost the conservative voting block, as Wyoming was a small territory at the time with only 6,000 adult men, and only 1,000 women. Attracting more women would balance the genders, as well as boost the population for the Wyoming Territory to become a state and receive more government aids and subsidies. Other states and territories did not allow women to vote for another 50 years.

   The people of Wyoming pride themselves on being named “The Equality State” because of women’s suffrage and certainly have enjoyed celebrating the anniversary and heritage that has come with it.