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American Heritage Center

In Pursuit of Equality: Introduction

Nellie Tayloe Ross campaign poster


Photo: Nellie Taylor Ross, campaign poster, 1926.

Wyoming became the first territory in the United States to grant women's suffrage when in 1869 Governor John Campbell signed a bill into law that established the right for women to vote and hold elective office. The following year Esther Hobart Morris was appointed the first female Justice of the Peace in South Pass City, and in 1894, Estelle Reel was the first woman in America elected to a statewide office, as Wyoming's Superintendent of Public Instruction. By the turn of the century Wyoming was recognized as the Equality State due in large part to these and other important historical firsts.

Still, despite these early achievements, Wyoming citizens and leaders have often struggled with the idea of equality, and what it means for Wyoming to be the Equality State. In Pursuit of Equality is an exhibit that tells the story of three women who through their actions as elected office holders, challenged and changed the conventional understanding of equality in Wyoming.

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