Voting Rights Rescinded

After the Edmunds-Tucker Act became law, women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined local and national efforts to regain voting rights. In 1889, Emily S. Richards organized the Utah Woman Suffrage Association, an affiliate of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Across Utah, women in the Church formed local suffrage organizations and gathered each month to study the role of government. They also educated their neighbors on the importance of women’s voting rights. Many items featured in this exhibit were created by the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association (BCWSA), one of the nineteen branches of the Woman Suffrage Association of Utah. The BCWSA met regularly to promote education and influence politicians to support women’s suffrage. Dues collected by the group supported Utah’s suffrage leaders as they attended national suffrage meetings.

Women in the Church of Jesus Christ also engaged at the national level, participating in the International Council of Women, the National Council of Women, and the World’s Congress of Representative Women held at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Artifacts

A ruled “Student’s Notebook” with handwritten minutes of meetings of the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association kept from May 16, 1892 to March 18, 1895.  Most meetings were held in the Beaver Relief Society Hall. These minutes detail membership and dues, and what was accomplished by the association. It also includes some of the more notable speeches given by members arguing for women’s rights and suffrage. 

This excerpt from September 17, 1894, describes a typical meeting — songs, minutes, reading the “Equal Rights Banner,” plus a message from Salt Lake City: 

“Mrs. E.B. Wells [d]esired to work with all our might to have men elected to the constitutional convention who will work for our cause.  The most eminent men of [the] nation are taking a stand for W. S. [woman suffrage]. We want the word male left out of our Constitution. It is a well known fact that women pay a large percentage of the taxes, and ‘taxation without representation is tyranny.’ Thinks it is time women stand up for themselves, and wants all the men to stand up for women.”

NOTE: Minutes were recorded starting on the last page of the notebook. To read these notes, begin on page 61 and end on page 2.

Call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 2, Item 4

In 1893 and 1894, members of the Beaver County Woman Suffrage Association produced a handwritten newsletter titled, “Equal Rights Banner.” Louissa Jones is listed as the editor of Volume 1, Issue 1. The newsletter conveyed meeting minutes for the Association and editorials on voting rights. 

Nine issues of the newsletter are available in L. Tom Perry Special Collections (call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 2) and online. Issue numbering and formatting varied from newsletter to newsletter. 

Equal Rights Banner, Vol. I, No. I

Equal Rights Banner, Vol. I, No. II

Equal Rights Banner, Vol. I, No. IV

Equal Rights Banner, c. November 1893

Equal Rights Banner, Vol. 1, No. 9

Equal Rights Banner, April 16, 1894

Equal Rights Banner, May 16, 1894

Equal Rights Banner, Vol. 1, No. 12

Equal Rights Banner, September 16, 1894

Call number: call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 2

An example of the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association ribbons made of long, thin yellow fabric with Equal Rights printed in black (7 cm x 49 cm).

Call number: MSS SC 48, Oversize Folder 4, Item 16

Letter from Emmeline B. Wells to Mary A. White, president of the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association written on letterhead for the National Woman’s Relief Society, for which Wells was secretary at the time. Contents include resolving an issue with dues, presumably for the Relief Society, and advice on current issues related to the suffrage movement.

Call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 3, Item 15

The Utah Woman Suffrage Song Book, sold for 10 cents from the offices of the Woman’s Exponent, contained nineteen songs about freedom, equal rights for women, and the suffrage movement. The book includes songs by local Utah and national suffragists. 

The title of this exhibit, Women, Arise!, is taken from a song penned by Lula Greene Richards, “Woman, Arise,” set to the tune “Hope of Israel.”

Call number: M285.9 .U93x 1890

Thin broadside with the text for the song “Equal Rights,” with words and music by S. C. M. written for the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association.

Call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 2, Item 1

Song written for the Beaver County Woman’s Suffrage Association. Words and text by W. B. Bickley.

Call number: MSS SC 48, Folder 2, Item 2

Handwritten and signed letter addressed to A.L. Cox, president of the Woman’s Suffrage Association of Sanpete County, Utah, and dated Nov. 24, 1891. Sister Kimball compliments the county association with these words, “Sanpete County Suffragists have a good record both here and at Washington.” She then sympathizes with the challenge of encouraging equality among men and women and getting women engaged in the movement.

Call number: MSS SC 1263

A copy of the Bylaws and Regulations of the Woman Suffrage Association of Utah County, published in 1890. It contains 14 articles describing the name, object of the association, member fees, and duties of the officers. The officers include a president, three or more vice-presidents, a recording secretary, an assistant secretary, and a treasurer.

Call number: AC 901 .A1 #4773