Frequently asked questions

What does “suffrage” mean?


The word comes from the Latin suffragium, meaning “vote”, “political support”, and “the right to vote.” So women’s suffrage refers to women’s right to vote.




When did Utah first grant women suffrage?


Women’s suffrage in Utah was first granted by the Utah Territorial Legislature on February 12, 1870. Seraph Young and about twenty-five other women voted in a Salt Lake City municipal election two days later, on February 14, 1870. This election was the first in the United States in which women cast ballots under a women’s suffrage law.




When did Weber County women first vote?


The municipal elections were held on January 10, 1870 so the women missed the vote by two days. They weren’t able to vote until 1871.




Who were some of the suffrage leaders from Weber and Davis Counties?


Many women from the area were involved in the suffrage movement. They included Emily Tanner Richards, Kate Hilliard, Georgina Marriott, Sarah Elizabeth Anderson, Elizabeth Stanford, Lucy Clark and Elizabeth Coombs.




Did the national suffrage leaders ever come to Ogden or just Salt Lake City?


Many of the prominent women in the movement ventured up to Ogden to host lectures and rallies. In 1916, a large group met at what would later become the Berthana. The national women were Inez Millholland and Abby Baker Scott.




When was the 19th Amendment ratified?


Congress passed the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919, but it was not ratified until August 18, 1920. Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it law. The 19th Amendment took effect eight days later, on August 26, 1920.




Congress took away Utah women’s voting rights in 1887, seventeen years after Utah women began exercising their voting rights. Why?


After receiving the vote, women throughout Utah became very involved in political life. However, most Utah women did not vote for candidates opposed to polygamy like anti-polygamists had hoped. The practice of polygamy continued. Since giving Utah women the vote did not end polygamy, anti-polygamists worked through Congress to pressure the LDS Church to disavow polygamy through anti-polygamy laws. In 1887, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act in an effort to end polygamy. Part of this legislation took away the voting rights of polygamous men and all Utah women, whether they were Mormon or non-Mormon, polygamous or monogamous, married or single.




How did women in Utah regain their voting rights?


Congress passed the Enabling Act of 1894, which allowed Utah to apply for statehood. During Utah’s 1895 Constitutional Convention, delegates debated whether to include women’s suffrage and their right to hold public office in the state constitution that Utah would propose to Congress. In contrast to other areas of the nation, most Utahns supported a woman’s right to vote and hold public office. Both political parties in Utah supported these rights in their party platforms, and women’s suffrage organizations throughout the territory lobbied delegates to include these rights in Utah’s constitution. The new constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Utah’s voters (still all male), was ratified by Congress, and signed by President Grover Cleveland on January 4, 1896, making Utah a state.




Why did advocates feel the Equal Rights Amendment was needed?


Even though the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, they still weren’t recognized as equal under the Constitution. The call for the ERA started in 1923 with Alice Paul and took another 50 years before Congress passed it but the states failed to ratify it.




Where can I learn more about local women?


Special Collections and University Archives at Weber State University are repositories for the histories of the local area. You can visit our primary source page to see the collections that are available for research. Both departments are open to the public.




How can I add women to the list?


When we started this project we knew that we couldn’t identify every woman that had lived in the area and impacted the community. We are looking for additional stories and photographs from people. Please use the contact form or email us at specialcollections@weber.edu.




Was Civil Rights really that important in Northern Utah?


Since the early 1900s, Ogden was segregated. African-Americans, for example, weren’t allowed in businesses on the south side of 25th Street. This was especially problematic for visitors coming into town via train who wanted a quick bite to eat. Also, although not an official policy, most African-Americans were not allowed to live anywhere but north of 25th Street from Lincoln out west. Even Hopkins Elementary was investigated by the federal government for being a segregated school in the 1970s. Although there weren’t protests in Ogden like in the South, the civil rights movement was still an important part of the city’s history.





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