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, via Google Books.

Pickler contributed material for a chapter on the history of the SD suffrage movement to the 1910 History of Faulk County, p.227-255, in full text via Internet Archive.

A short history of local suffrage efforts can be found in Chapter 19 of Charles A. Smith’s 1949 A Comprehensive History of Minnehaha County, South Dakota.

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.  In WorldCat here.  Also an article by Ross-Nazzal on DeVoe in South Dakota History (2003).

Both discuss his newspaper editorials during the suffrage movement:

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.  2018 book: Woman Suffrage and Citizenship in the Midwest, 1870–1920. University of Iowa Press, 2018 — plus Google preview.

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:

South Dakota State ArchivesJane Rooker Breeden Papers [discussion of the collection by SDSHS, here], 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!

Suffrage subject materials, University of South Dakota:

  • Jane Rooker Breeden Papers: “The Breeden Papers consist of correspondence, pamphlets, administrative records, newspaper clippings and print materials extending from 1895 to 1933. The papers relate to the woman suffrage movement in South Dakota, including material from the South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association, the South Dakota Universal Franchise League, the State Council of Defense and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Additional materials relate to the South Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs.” Digital collection of correspondence from Breeden papers, here.
  • Mamie Shields Pyle Papers: “The Mamie Shields Pyle Papers consist of correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous printed material extending from 1910-1929. The bulk of the papers document the campaign activities of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League. The League, organized in 1911, succeeded in its campaign with the passage of the suffrage amendment to the state constitution in November 1918. The correspondence also contains materials pertaining to the Woman’s Committee of Council of National Defense, South Dakota Division.”  Digital collection of correspondence from Pyle papers, here.

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

More Fun Things:

Portrait (charcoal drawing) of SD suffragist and temperance advocate Emma Cranmer by her daughter Frances, on the Hennepin County Museum blog here.

Students at SDSU dressed as militant suffragettes for Hobo Day (a school homecoming festival when humorous costumes were/are typical – I believe), Briggs Library, South Dakota State University, Brookings.  Description, from the record: “Group of women wearying white skirts, suite coats, ties, and bowler hats, each wearing a pennant that reads ‘Votes for Women.’ Two men seated on the ground with two women, one man is praying the other is dressed as a police officer.”
In my newspaper research, ‘suffragette’ was also used as a costume for a Dakota Day parade in Vermillion by University of South Dakota students… the parade “picturing South Dakota history from the time of Indians, cowboys, the first log school house, miners and farmers down to the present day suffragette” [The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), November 26, 1914].

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