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UW to Host Womens Suffrage Symposium Nov. 7

women's suffrage celebration logo

A keynote address by an award-winning broadcast journalist and presentations by experts on women’s suffrage in Northern Plains states highlight a Nov. 7-8 symposium at the University of Wyoming marking the 150th anniversary of Wyoming’s groundbreaking women’s suffrage law.

The symposium, “Women’s Suffrage on the Northern Plains,” takes place Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7-8, at the UW Art Museum, UW American Heritage Center and the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. The public is invited, and there is no fee for admission.

Susan Stamberg, a nationally renowned journalist for National Public Radio who’s the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, will give the concluding keynote address at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Gateway Center. The talk, “Inspiring Women,” will be followed by a reception at the Gateway Center. Stamberg is a member of both the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame.

The opening address -- “Race, Gender and Empire: the Strange Career of Woman Suffrage in Wyoming” -- is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the UW Art Museum. It will be delivered by Virginia Scharff, distinguished professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico.

In 1869, when Wyoming was still a territory, legislators passed the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869 giving women the right to vote. The first such vote was cast in Laramie, 50 years before women could vote in the rest of the nation. The symposium launches a yearlong Wyoming suffrage celebration, which officially begins Dec. 10, the date the suffrage legislation was passed in 1869.

“The participation of scholars, students and Susan Stamberg as keynote speaker will help bring awareness of this important part of Wyoming’s history to people around the state and the university community,” says UW history Professor Renee Laegreid, who organized the symposium.

A series of presentations Nov. 8 at the American Heritage Center Stock Growers Room precedes Stamberg’s 7 p.m. keynote address. Here’s the schedule:

8:30 a.m. -- Opening remarks.

8:45-10:30 a.m. -- Session 1, “Suffrage Strategies”

“School Suffrage: How women voted and won elections long before the 19th Amendment,” by Ruth Page Jones, independent scholar.

“Kate Selby Wilder: Clubwoman, Suffragist, Temperance Activist and City Commissioner,” by Ann Braaten, North Dakota State University.

“‘The Ladies Win’ Some, But Not All: Cora Smith Eaton and the Struggle for North Dakota Woman Suffrage in the 1880s and 1890s,” by Kristin Mapel Bloomberg, Hamline University.

“‘To confer upon women elective franchise and the eligibility to office’: Woman Suffrage in Dakota Territory,” by Lori Lahlum, Minnesota State University.

10:40-11:10 a.m. -- Session 2, “Creating Historical Records”

Student work in progress: Oral histories on suffrage and civic participation in Wyoming from the course “Women in the West.”

11:20 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -- Session 3, “The Art of Suffrage”

“Raise Your Banner High! Art and Propaganda in the Edwardian Suffrage Movement,” by Colleen Denney, UW.

Student work in progress: From the course “Gender, Political Art and Propaganda: The Legacy of Women’s Suffrage, 1860 to the Present.”

12:30-1 p.m. -- Lunch break.

1-2 p.m. -- Session 4, “Snapshots into Suffrage”

“Frauenstimmrecht in Süd-Dakota: German-Language Newspapers in South Dakota on Woman Suffrage,” by Kelly O’Dea, University of South Dakota.

“Jeannette Rankin on the Road,” by Cody Dodge Ewert, South Dakota Historical Society Press.

“Mabel Rewman: Black Hills Suffragist,” by Kelly Kirk, Black Hills State University.

“Martha Symons Bois, first female bailiff,” by Renee Laegreid, UW.

2:10-3:30 p.m. -- Session 5, “Native Women, Ethnicity and Suffrage”

“Helen Piotopowaka Clarke and Virginia Billedeaux: Blackfeet Suffragists and Blackfeet Empowerment,” by Dee Garceau, University of Montana.

“The 1890 South Dakota Vote on Woman Suffrage and Indian Suffrage,” by Molly Rozum, University of South Dakota.

“Where the Battle was the ‘Thickest’: Woman Suffrage and Ethnicity in South Dakota,” by Sara Egge, Centre College.

3:40-5 p.m. -- Session 6, “Wyoming and Suffrage”

“So Great an Innovation: Woman Suffrage in Wyoming,” by Jennifer Helton, Ohlone College.

“Wake Up, Wyoming: The Push to Ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in the Northern Great Plains States,” by Amy McKinney, Northwest College.

“Women Vote in the West: Wyoming, Utah and the Race to the Ballot Box,” by Andrea Radke-Moss, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

For more on the symposium or to contact Laegreid, go to

The symposium, whose sponsors include the Wyoming Humanities Council, is one in a series of activities planned by various entities at Wyoming’s flagship and land-grant university to commemorate the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869. For more details, go to



Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

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