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Cultural Heritage Center program focuses on women’s long fight to vote

Women’s fight for the right to vote will be the subject of an Oct. 9 program at the Cultural Heritage Center.

“Women of today have a say in government and how it is run when they cast ballots in elections. That wasn’t true for their great-grandmothers and other female ancestors, as they could not vote in elections for much of our nation’s history. Women fought long and hard for the right to vote,” said Catherine Forsch, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation.

The foundation, which is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society, and the South Dakota Historical Society Press are sponsoring the program about women’s suffrage. The free program will take place at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Cultural Heritage Center. Everyone is welcome to attend.

During the program, press marketing director and associate editor Jennifer McIntyre will tell about the League of Women Voters in Pierre. The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920, six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. The league’s mission is to provide information about issues of concern to members and the public.

Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of Research and Publishing for the South Dakota State Historical Society, will tell about suffrage in South Dakota and the Historical Society Press’ Woman Suffrage Project.

On Nov. 5, 1918, South Dakota men approved a state constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote in state elections. Six previous attempts to approve women’s suffrage failed.

The U.S. Congress passed a suffrage amendment in 1919. South Dakota was one of the first states to ratify the 19th Amendment, approving it during a special session on Dec. 4, 1919. All the states ratified the 19th Amendment by 1920.

To celebrate anniversaries of women achieving the right to vote, the press will publish three books during the next three years detailing the struggle of women for liberty. The first book, “Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist,” was released at the recent South Dakota Festival of Books. The biography for young adults was written by Angelica Shirley Carpenter.

Carpenter will speak to those at the Cultural Heritage Center on Oct. 9 via Skype or another remote method. Carpenter is the author of several illustrated biographies for young people. Written for young adult readers, “Born Criminal” is the first full-length biography of Gage to be published.

Gage (1826-1898) is a forgotten mother of the women’s rights movement. Gage, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage served in various offices of that organization and published its official newspaper. During the 1880s, all four of Gage’s children moved to Dakota Territory. Gage visited often and advocated suffrage. Her son-law-law was L. Frank Baum, newspaper owner in Aberdeen and later author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” He supported Gage’s ideas and women’s suffrage.

“Born Criminal” is available from the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and the Capitol.

People in locations other than Pierre and Fort Pierre may call 605-773-6006 for information about how to join the program remotely.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.


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