Equality at the Ballot Box
On 10 December 1869, the governor of Wyoming Territory signed the first full woman suffrage bill in the history of the United States. Suffragists in the neighboring territories of Montana and Dakota believed their prospects were similarly bright. Over the next twenty years, however, organizers’ efforts to secure votes for women met only limited success. While suffragists hoped the territories’ respective bids for statehood in 1889 and 1890 would change their fortunes, only Wyoming enshrined voting rights for all in its state constitution.
The fight for full woman suffrage on the Northern Great Plains would take another three decades. In Equality at the Ballot Box, editors Lori Ann Lahlum and Molly P. Rozum have compiled a set of original essays that illuminate key aspects of the movement. Here, scholars uncover previously untold stories of the women who traveled immense distances to win over a diverse, often contentious public. Essential for understanding the larger picture of woman suffrage, including the significance of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, school suffrage, and the anti-suffrage movement, this volume reveals the impact this isolated, rural region had on women’s rights nationwide.
The contributors to Equality at the Ballot Box build upon classic woman suffrage scholarship and develop new ideas that capture the spirit of suffrage on the Northern Great Plains. For the first time, the region’s unique circumstances are considered, including significant populations of European immigrants and American Indians as well as harsh climates and sprawling landscapes. By turning scholarly attention to this understudied area, Lahlum and Rozum start a long-needed conversation and point to rich avenues for further exploration.