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American Heritage Center, Women's Suffrage Subject Guide: Collections

This guide serves as a brief overview of some of the collections held by the American Heritage Center relating to the topic of women's suffrage.

Women's Suffrage Facts

Women's Suffrage had its roots in the abolition movement of the mid-1800s. As part of this movement, women ran for office, voted illegally, and generally tried to gain the rights of men. States like Wyoming allowed women to vote, serve on juries, and partake in politics in ways that most women of the time could not. With the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1919 and its adoption in 1920, women officially gained the right to vote. 


Check out a few of the websites below for more information on the suffrage movement.

History of U.S. Woman's Suffrage

National Women's History Museum

Women's Suffrage

Women's Suffrage and World War I


Image: Pamphlet on the Woman Suffrage movement in Wyoming, 1879, Toppan Rare Books Library, AHC.


Collections About Women's Suffrage and Women in Politics

Harriet Elizabeth Byrd Family Papers, 1880-2009

Acc. #10443

In 1980, Byrd was elected to the Wyoming State House of Representatives and became the first African American legislator in Wyoming since statehood as well as the first African American woman to ever serve in the Wyoming State Legislature. After serving eight years, she ran for and won election to the Wyoming State Senate in 1988, where she served four years. She was the first African American to ever serve in the Wyoming State Senate. During her legislative career, Byrd was the prime sponsor of legislation to create Martin Luther King, Jr. Wyoming Equality Day.

The Harriett Elizabeth Byrd papers contain family records, personal files, photographs, and memorabilia.


Dorothy Eidlitz Papers, 1891-1976

Acc. #11593

Dorothy Eidlitz was a women’s rights advocate, amateur photographer, and arts patron during the twentieth century.

Collection contains photographs, slides, and photograph negatives taken by Eidlitz as an amateur photographer. Collection also contains several photograph albums and scrapbooks documenting Eidlitz’s life and activities, miscellaneous photographs and photograph negatives (some taken by Eidlitz), Eidlitz’s journals, and Eidlitz’s personal correspondence.


Vera Glaser Papers, 1945-1995

Acc. #9826

Vera Glaser was a Washington correspondent and bureau chief. She wrote for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Knight Ridder, and Maturity News Service. She was a contributing editor for the Washingtonian magazine. In 1969 she challenged President Richard Nixon during a press conference about his record of appointing only 3 women among 200 presidential appointments. From 1970 she served as a member of President Nixon’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities.

The Vera Glaser collection consists mainly of research and reference files for political figures and press organizations. They include the Whitehouse Fellows, the North American Newspaper Alliance and the Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities.


Matilda Hansen Papers, 1959-2008

Acc. #7117

Matilda Hansen served as the Wyoming State Representative from Albany County from 1975-1995. In 1974, she was elected as a Democrat to her first term as a Wyoming State Representative for Albany County. Hansen’s most notable legislative work addressed education, women's issues, and was the driving force into the creation of the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie, Wyoming.

The Matilda Hansen papers consist of bill files, subject files, memos, and committee files from her service in the Wyoming House of Representative. Correspondence consists of constituent mail and communication between Hansen and various State and Federal legislators.


Grace Raymond Hebard Papers, 1829-1947

Acc. #400008

A noted western historian who collected source materials relating to the American West, Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard became a University of Wyoming librarian and instructor in political economy in 1891 and was a prominent woman suffragist. She conducted extensive research on Wyoming, the West, pioneers, and American Indians.

Collection includes correspondence with publishers, other historians, friends, and family; manuscripts of published works; scrapbooks on Wyoming, the University of Wyoming, Wyoming place names, and local politics; photographs of students, professors, and buildings at the University of Wyoming; her subject files from the University of Wyoming; newspaper clippings  on Hebard and book reviews by and about Hebard; and the writings of Dr. Agnes Wergeland, who lived with Hebard, and who taught History at the University of Wyoming.


League of Women Voters of Wyoming Records, 1946-2011

Acc. #10437

The League of Women Voters was created during the final convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association in 1920. The League and its various state and local chapters has played an important role in helping to define election issues, encouraging voting turnouts, and sponsoring non-partisan debates between candidates.

The collection contains materials pertaining to the operations of the League’s Wyoming chapter. Materials include chronological files relating to state and national conventions, political issues and contests, annual reports, board of directors’ and officers’ meetings, the League’s publications, and local chapters in Wyoming.


Nellie Tayloe Ross Papers, 1880s-1998

Acc. #948

Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman Governor in the United States. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Nellie married William Bradford Ross in 1902 and they lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming. William B. Ross, a Democrat, was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1922. Three weeks before Election Day in 1924, William B. Ross died, and Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected in his stead. Nellie Ross lost in her bid for reelection in 1926. She was appointed Director of the U.S. Mint in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served in that capacity until her retirement in 1953.

Collection contains materials relating to Nellie and William Ross, including six scrapbooks; correspondence both personal and professional; miscellaneous materials relating to the U.S. Mint; Nellie Ross' financial records, speeches and writings, diaries, subject files and biographical information; William Ross' campaign materials for 1922; manuscript materials by or about William and Nellie Ross; news releases relating to Nellie Ross as governor and Director of the U.S. Mint; a poster of Nellie Ross' 1926 campaign; a 1924 campaign ribbon; one 33 1/3 and three 78 rpm phonographic recordings of speeches given by Nellie Ross in 1938 and 1950; and news clippings.


Louisa A. Swain Papers, 1860-1960

Acc. #807

Louisa A. Swain cast her ballot in Albany County, Wyoming Territory, on September 6, 1870. By doing so she became the first woman to vote legally in a general election in the United States. Louisa Swain was born Louisa Gardiner in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1801. She married Stephen Swain, and the couple moved with their four children to what later became Wyoming Territory. When Wyoming Territory was organized in 1869, women’s suffrage was written into the constitution, giving Mrs. Swain, and other women residents in the territory, the unprecedented right to vote on an equal basis with men.

The Louisa A. Swain collection contains a christening gown and infant garment hand-stitched by Louisa Swain; a silver teaspoon (engraved LS to MC); a china saucer which Louisa Swain carried with her to the west; a photograph of Louisa Swain; a woman’s embroidered scarf; a newspaper clipping about Louisa Swain titled "Taming the Wild West"; and correspondence describing the donation of the materials to the University of Wyoming.