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I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

Book Description

This picture book biography chronicles the life of Esther Morris, hatmaker, business owner, mother, wife, and suffragist, who was instrumental in getting women the right to vote in Wyoming Territory. “I could do that!” was Esther’s battle cry when people told her she wasn’t allowed to do certain things. A story about a woman with bold determination, this picture book makes a great read-aloud with its cheery dialogue and colorful, humorous illustrations.

Utah Connection

This mural depiction of women first voting in Utah, by painter David Koch, hangs in the Utah Capitol Building. Seraph Young, the first woman to vote in Utah and the modern nation, is center wearing the yellow dress.

Wyoming Territory was the first to grant women voting rights, in December 1869. Utah Territory granted women the vote several weeks later, on February 12, 1870. Women in Salt Lake City voted two days after that, making them the first women to vote in the modern nation. Many women in Utah were like Esther Morris, fighting for their rights, running for and serving in political offices, and involving themselves in their local communities.

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage
Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

Book Description

The story of women’s suffrage told from the perspective of Bessie Keith Pond, a real-life ten-year-old from California, unfolds in this picture book biography. Bessie joins the campaign for women’s suffrage after Susan B. Anthony visits her town. Based on Bessie’s diaries, this picture book shares not only the main events in the fight for women’s suffrage, but also how even young girls can make a difference in their communities and the world.

Utah Connection

Annie Wells Cannon at age 2 ½ . Photo courtesy of Kathy Knowlton

Many young girls in Utah watched their mentors, aunts, mothers, and older sisters fight for suffrage. The road to the passage of the 19th Amendment took 72 years, so these young girls grew into adults who continued the fight for women’s voting rights. For example, Annie Wells Cannon was eleven years old when women in Utah were first granted suffrage in 1870. Her mother, Emmeline B. Wells, was Utah’s leading suffragist and good friends with Susan B. Anthony. Annie not only helped her mother write and edit the women’s rights newspaper, the Woman’s Exponent, she grew up to be a suffragist and a Utah state legislator.

The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage
The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage

Book Description

Abby and Julia Smith fight taxation without representation. Since women did not have the vote, the Smith Sisters refused to pay a property tax—a tax on their cows—because they had no say in this tax law. They decide to fight this unfair law—and draw attention to women’s suffrage—through creative means.

Utah Connection

In 1911, Kanab elected to the City Council Mary Woolley Chamberlain, Luella Atkin McAllister, Tamar Stewart Hamblin, Blanche Robinson Hamblin, and Vinnie Farnsworth Jepson. Jepson resigned shortly after being elected but was quickly replaced by Ada Pratt Seegmiller.

Cows were the motivation for the Smith sisters to become politically active in their community, and cows were the motivation for five women in Kanab, Utah, to also get involved in local politics. In the early 1900s, women in Kanab were frustrated by the mess being caused by cows and other farm animals running loose around the city. It was dirty, smelly and made it difficult to walk down the street or drive a wagon on the road. Men had always been in charge of running the town, but they weren’t doing anything about the problems in Kanab. So women in Kanab decided to run for office to make changes, and they won they mayorship and all four town commissioner seats! The women took their new leadership roles seriously. They passed laws to punish animal owners who didn’t keep their animals fenced in and did many other things to clean up their town. Like the Smith sisters, the Kanab women weren’t afraid to stand up and make a difference.

Utah women also were not happy about being taxed without the right to vote. Taxation without representation was one of the main arguments given by pro-suffragists for including equal suffrage in the Utah State Constitution in 1895.  

Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told
Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told

Book Description

This award-winning picture book biography tells the story of Ida B. Wells, suffragist, activist, educator, and journalist, who spoke out about the evils of lynching and the unequal treatment of African Americans. Quotes from Wells’s autobiography are weaved throughout and paired with beautiful watercolor illustrations.

Utah Connection

President Coolidge and Osage Indians, 1924

Even though laws are written and passed, sometimes these laws aren’t fairly enforced. In the case of voting rights, throughout history many states and the federal government have passed restrictive laws and practices making voting difficult if not impossible for various groups of people. Examples: 1) after the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1870, giving black men the right to vote, some states and counties still prevented African Americans from voting by passing their own restrictive laws. 2) Congress passed laws in 1924 that granted U.S. citizenship (and voting rights) to all American Indians, even those living on reservations under sovereign indigenous nations. But American Indians in Utah could not vote because they were not considered “residents” of Utah but “residents” of their own tribal nations. In 1957, the Utah State Legislature passed a law that allowed all American Indians in Utah to vote regardless of whether they lived on a reservation or not. 3) In the late 1800s, Congress passed anti-polygamy laws. The Edmunds-Tucker Act took away the voting rights of polygamous men and all Utah women.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Book Description

Ukranian immigrant Clara Lemlich fought for better working conditions in U.S. garment factories in the early 1900s. This picture book biography chronicles the story of young Clara leading the largest walkout of women workers the country had ever seen. It includes striking illustrations, an author’s note, and further readings on the garment industry.

Utah Connection

The J. G. McDonald shipping room, July 1911. Photo Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

In January 1910, fourteen immigrant ‘chocolate girls’ at the McDonald Candy Company in Salt Lake City went on strike after the firm refused the workers’ request to increase their wages. The strikers organized the Chocolate Dippers’ Union of Utah No. 1, the first union of women workers in Utah. Unfortunately, the union was short-lived, and the strikers did not achieve their goal of higher wages. Instead, they lost their jobs. But the efforts of these women to improve their work situation in one of Utah’s major industries made them exceptional.

From Kathryn L. Mackay, “The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 1, 39-51.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March

Book Description

This award-winning memoir provides a first-person account by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. She was jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday and marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr., showing just how courageous young people can be. The illustrations give the text a graphic-novel feel. The concluding chapter explains the fight for voting rights and contains short biographies of those who died fighting for the cause.

Utah Connection

Sarah Bard Field addresses women on the steps of the Utah State Capitol during a national suffrage campaign on Oct. 4, 1915. Emmeline B. Wells stands behind Field. Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

The First Amendment guarantees the right of assembly and peaceful protest. Many Utahns and individuals in other states continue to march and peacefully protest for various causes in their local, state, and national communities.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Book Description

This multiple award-winning book uses poetry told in a first-person voice and vivid collage illustrations to share the story of Fannie Lou Hamer. When Fannie was in her 40s, she learned from young activists who spoke at her church that she had voting rights, and she volunteered to register to vote despite the potential dangers in doing so. Though she faced numerous threats and was brutally beaten, she continued to champion civil rights.

Utah Connection

Mignon Barker Richmond (third from right) joins other students for an outdoor performance. Photo courtesy Utah State University Special Collections

Mignon Barker Richmond was the first African American woman to graduate from a Utah college (Utah State University), in 1921. Like Fannie Lou Hamer, Mignon worked to improve the lives of African Americans in her community. She enjoyed a lifelong association with the YWCA and served as president of the Salt Lake Chapter of the NAACP. She helped found the Nettie Gregory Center, the first civic building in Salt Lake City built by African Americans, in 1964.

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Book Description

Written as a celebration of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made it illegal to use literacy tests, poll taxes, or anything else to deny American citizens the right to vote. This picture book follows the journey of 100-year-old Lillian en route to her polling place as she reminisces about the obstacles she and her ancestors faced in order to vote.

Utah Connection

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, as Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders look on. Courtesy of LBJ Library, photo by Yoichi Okamoto

From the book’s author’s note: “The sad coda to this story is that in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating federal oversight of states’ election processes. Since that decision, many states have created ‘voter ID laws,’ which require all citizens to present a state-issued photo ID when voting.” Utah has a voter ID requirement.

Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote, 21 Activities
Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote, 21 Activities

Book Description

This book tells the story of the almost century-long struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States. It includes a timeline, online resources, and activities like creating a suffrage banner , hosting a Victorian tea, and baking a cake from the Woman Suffrage Cookbook.

Utah Connection

Cover of the Utah Woman Suffrage Song Book

Many Utah suffragists worked closely with national suffragist leaders. They held meetings and suffrage celebrations, generated petitions, paid dues to national suffrage organizations, and created items like the Utah Woman Suffrage Song Book to raise money and awareness for their cause.

Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote
Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote

Book Description

Alice Paul grew up watching what her father and other men could do, and she wanted to be able to do the same. Wearing her signature purple hat, Alice organized suffrage parades, wrote letters, protested outside the White House, and met with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. He dismissed women’s suffrage as a minor concern. However, her persistence paid off, eventually convincing President Wilson to support women’s suffrage.

Utah Connection

Emily S. Richards. Photo courtesy of Bruce J. Nelson

For nearly forty years, Emmeline B. Wells and other suffragists published a newspaper advocating women’s rights, called the Woman’s Exponent. Emily S. Richards founded the Utah Woman’s Suffrage Association and organized local chapters throughout the territory. Utah’s suffragists held meetings, distributed pamphlets, signed petitions and wrote memorials (resolutions) demanding women’s voting rights in Utah and the nation.

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

Book Description

Through vintage photographs, cartoons, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, Wheels of Change provides readers the history of how the bicycle transformed women’s lives. "Let me tell you what I think of bicycling," abolitionist and suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony said in 1896. "I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel … the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."

Utah Connection

An unidentified woman with a bicycle is shown with members of the first Utah State Legislature on the steps of the City and County Building in 1896. Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

A man riding across the country on a bicycle passed through Utah in 1884. Utah’s Ute Indians first saw a bicycle in 1892 when a man from New York got lost on reservation lands. The Utes called the bike an “iron pony.” They thought it was part of a scheme to compete with and cheat them out of their beloved horses.

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President
Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

Book Description

Unlike most books about Susan B. Anthony, this picture book focuses on Ms. Anthony voting in the 1872 presidential election when women did not have voting rights. She was arrested and jailed for this then illegal act, bringing attention to the women’s suffrage movement.

Utah Connection

Susan B. Anthony had a cherished dress made from black silk presented to her on her 80th birthday by the Utah Silk Commission, a woman-owned industry. The dress is on display at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, New York.

Two years before Susan B. Anthony illegally cast her vote, Utah and Wyoming women received voting rights and were able to legally cast their ballots. In 1871, Anthony passed through Utah, where she spoke in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and congratulated Utah on extending voting rights to women. She became friends with Utah suffragists, championing their voting rights. In turn, Utahns adored Anthony and supported her efforts to win national women’s suffrage.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten and 10,000 Miles
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten and 10,000 Miles

Book Description

In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out from New York City in a little yellow car to spread the ‘Votes for Women!’ message on their 10,000-mile journey across the United States. This picture book with lively illustrations chronicles their adventures as they furthered their cause through ingenious means.

Utah Connection

Utah delegation to Triennial National Council of Women, held in Washington, February 1899. Top row: (L to R) Martha Horne Tingey, Minnie. J. Snow. Second row: Ann M. Cannon, Emmeline B. Wells, Susa Young Gates. Third row: Mabel Lyon, Zina Young Card, Lula L. Greene Richards. Bottom row: Lucy B. Young, Hana Kaaepa. Young Woman’s Journal 10 (May 1899): 194.

Utah suffragists, who had voting rights, often traveled from Utah to the East (and sometimes even to Europe!) to lend their support and speak about what it was like for women to exercise their voting rights. In 1916, the Suffrage Special, a private train car carrying twenty-three suffragists chosen by her state’s suffrage organization to represent that state toured Utah and other Western states for 38 days to organize western women voters to form a National Woman’s Party.