Where do we find Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota history?

From South Dakota State Historical Society on Flickr:

From South Dakota State Historical Society on Flickr: “Alice M. A. Pickler… A state official of the WCTU, she promoted woman’s suffrage in Dakota Territory and served on the executive board of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Her husband, John, was nicknamed “Old Petticoats” for his support of her causes in the Dakota Legislature and in Congress.”

We’re coming up to a centennial anniversary of the passage of equal voting rights for women in South Dakota by the state legislature in 1918.  South Dakota was the 17th state to pass such legislation, just before the U.S. Congress did so in 1919.  The first suffrage bill in Dakota was proposed in 1868, and it took those fifty years of forward movement and setbacks to get the measure passed by male voters [Easton, 226].   For many years supporters and opponents were also tangled up with the temperance movement.

There are many others who have worked hard on histories of this movement for our state, here are a few articles, books, links, and more…  Please share others in the comments!

An early history of the movement in Doane Robinson’s 1904 History of South Dakota, Chapter 102.

Dorinda Riessen Reed. The Woman Suffrage Movement in South Dakota. Second ed. Pierre: Committee on the Status of Women, 1976.

Jennifer M. Ross-Nazzal.  Winning the West for Women: The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe. Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 2011.  Also an article by Ross-Nazzal on DeVoe in South Dakota History (2003).

Nancy Tystad Koupal, “Marietta Bones: Personality and Politics in the South Dakota Suffrage Movement.” In Yvonne J. Johnson, Ed., Feminist Frontiers: Women Who Shaped the Midwest. Kirksville MO: Truman State University Press, 2010.  [Bones was an active and vocal suffrage leader, but came into conflict with state politicians and other suffrage leaders, abandoning and opposing suffrage after 1890].

Sara Anne Egge. “‘When We Get to Voting’: Rural Women, Community, Gender, and Woman Suffrage in the Midwest.” Dissertation, Ames: University of Iowa, 2012. Chapter 5: Woman Suffrage in South Dakota, 1914-1918.

From SD State Historic Preservation Office, via Flickr:

From SD State Historic Preservation Office, via Flickr: “The Pyle Home, built in 1894, was home to the John and Mamie Pyle family. Gladys Pyle, the youngest of John and Mamie’s four children, was the first Republican woman to be elected to the South Dakota Legislature, the first woman in South Dakota to hold constitutional office as Secretary of State, the first Republican Woman elected to the United States Senate, and the first woman from either party to win election to the Senate in her own right, without having first been appointed to fill a vacancy. The house has been converted to a museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.”

Historic Places:

In South Dakota History:

  • Mary Kay Jennings, “Lake County Woman Suffrage Campaign in 1890,” Vol. 5, No. 4 (1975), 390-409.
  • Cecilia M. Wittmayer, “The 1889-1890 Woman Suffrage Campaign: A Need to Organize,” Vol. 11, No. 3 (1981), 199-225.
  • Patricia O’Keefe Easton, “Woman Suffrage in South Dakota: The Final Decade, 1911-1920,” Vol. 13, No. 3 (1983), 206-226.
  • Dennis A. Norlin, “The Suffrage Movement and South Dakota Churches: Radicals and the Status Quo, 1890,” Vol. 14, No. 4 (1984), 308-334.

South Dakota State ArchivesJane Rooker Breeden Papers, Matilda Gage Papers, Pickler Family Papers, General Federation of Women’s Clubs of South Dakota Records, Woman Suffrage Movement Papers (including a 1920 account by Ruth Hipple), and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Records.  Run a search for “suffrage” in the newspapers that the State Archives have posted to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website – it’s a wealth!

Mamie Shields Pyle Records, University of South Dakota.

Papers of Emma Smith DeVoe, Washington State Historical Society – full scans of letters and scrapbooks related to South Dakota and suffrage.

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