Wyoming Humanities is proud to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, in which women won the right to vote, as well as the 150th anniversary of the first woman casting a vote in history, an event that happened right here in Wyoming. From the first convention on the political rights of women in America, in 1848, it took 72 years of ceaseless struggle by brave, committed women to push through the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Today, 100 years later, we should joyfully commemorate the immense impact the fight for women’s suffrage had on our democracy, but also recognize that women still do not have the same societal benefits of men and that the fight is not over.
Wyoming Humanities is sponsoring upcoming suffrage programs, hosting an exhibit, and celebrating other events across the state.
At 6 pm on September 9, 2020, Wyoming Humanities will host its first on-line discussion: Wyoming Connections: Women's Suffrage and the Sexual Revolution, available on Zoom and Facebook Live, with more information here. Our speakers will be Dr. Sherry Smith, University Distinguished Professor of History at Southern Methodist University, and Dr. Kimberly Hamlin, Associate Professor of History and Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. The discussion will be moderated by Wyoming Humanities’ Erin Pryor Ackerman.
Smith will discuss her new book, Bohemians West: A Story of Free Love, Family and Radicals in Twentieth Century America, which recounts the tale of a pioneering couple, Sarah Bard Field and C.E.S. Wood, who upended social convention seeking to burst the boundaries between the personal and the political. Hamlin will draw from her book, Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener, to cover the “Harriet Beecher Stowe of Fallen Women,” who campaigned to raise the age of sexual consent for girls, decried double standards of sexual morality, and debunked scientists’ claims that women’s brains were inferior. In 1910, she moved to Washington, D.C., and became the suffragists’ lead negotiator in the nation’s capital. Smith and Hamlin’s conversation will reveal the intersections between women’s suffrage and new ideas about sexuality at the start of the 20th century.
Wyoming Humanities is also hosting a virtual exhibit: Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery and with support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative created a digital poster exhibition seeking to expand visitors’ understanding of the American suffrage movement. This poster exhibition will be on display on the WYH website at https://www.thinkwy.org/initiatives/womens-suffrage.
Wyoming Humanities website also contains other suffrage related resources, readings, and videos and events happening around the state. Wyoming Humanities’ special series podcast, “First, But Last?” celebrates contemporary Wyoming women.
Wyoming Humanities is the Wyoming affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is one of 55 state humanities councils. Conceived by a group of University of Wyoming leaders in 1970 and approved by the NEH in 1971, Wyoming Humanities is the oldest state humanities council. Their mission is to use the public humanities to strengthen Wyoming’s democracy, expand the Wyoming narrative, and promote engaged communities. Wyoming Humanities is an independent nonprofit funded by the NEH, a state legislative appropriation, corporate and foundation grants, and private donations. Wyoming Humanities is headquartered in Laramie, WY with an office in Jackson’s Center for the Arts. To learn more about Wyoming Humanities, visit www.thinkwy.org.