Timeline of South Dakota Suffrage, 1909-1910

Before 18891889-18901891-18961897-18981899-1908 — 1909-1910 — 1911-19121913-19141915-19161917-1918After 1918


Key Players

Edith M. Fitch
Nina Pettigrew
Nana E. Gilbert
Rose Bower
Luella Ramsey
Philena Everett Johnson
Emma Cranmer
Alice M.A. Pickler
Lydia B. Johnson
Julius H. Johnson
Cicely Tinsley
Minnie Sheldon
Florence Jeffries
Jane Rooker Breeden
Mamie Shields Pyle
Anna R. Simmons
Gov. Robert S. Vessey
Perle Penfield (Texas)
Lena Morrow Lewis (Illinois)
Laura A. Gregg (Kansas)
Helen LaReine Baker (Spokane WA)
Rachel Foster Avery
Anna Howard Shaw
Barton O. Aylesworth (Colorado)
Anna Ursin (Norway/Minnesota)
Fola LaFollette (Wisconsin)
Anna Maley (Chicago IL)
Mary E. Craigie (Brooklyn NY)
Henrietta Lyman (Wisconsin)


1909

January-February: Edith Fitch, Nina Pettigrew, and Rose Bower were in Pierre in support of a suffrage amendment, as were temperance camp advocates Lola Ramsey, Philena Johnson, and Emma Cranmer [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 14, 1909; Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), January 28, 1909; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), January 29, 1909]. A suffrage amendment with property qualifications that began in the state Senate failed in the House, and suffragists were able to work through the House to amend a bill proposed for women to vote on prohibition alone into a bill for full suffrage that passed and was put on the 1910 ballot [Aberdeen Democrat (SD), January 15, 1909, January 22, 1909, March 5, 1909; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), February 4, 1909, March 4, 1909; Mitchell Capital (SD), February 4, 1909, March 4, 1909, image 1, image 8, image 10; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), January 22, 1909, February 12, 1909; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), February 25, 1909; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), February 25, 1909, March 4, 1909, June 24, 1909; Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), February 4, 1909, March 4, 1909; Charles Mix New Era (Wagner SD), March 5, 1909; Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), March 5, 1909]. There was speculation that liquor interests had supported the full suffrage bill “conceiving it would be easier to defeat” [Madison Daily Leader (SD), March 2, 1909; Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), March 5, 1909].

Edith M. Fitch to Jane Breeden, March 16, 1909 —
“so far as I am individually concerned I do not care where the Headquarters are placed or who is in charge.  My only interest is that the campaign may be conducted upon rational lines and that we get people to work for us who are able to move the political machinery.  Argument will not win the victory.”
RD06537, correspondence 1909, Breeden papers, USD.

“If the women leaders can get the rank and file of the women to take more than an apathetic interest in the question there is a possibility of its being carried and incorporated into the constitution.  Otherwise the men will continue to do the voting and the minority women will have to continue their campaign work of education to inform their benighted sisters of what they are missing in not being permitted to cast the free and untrammeled ballot.”
Mitchell Capital (SD), March 18, 1909.

May: Lena Morrow Lewis came to South Dakota to campaign for the Socialist party. At Sisseton, she lectured at the courthouse on suffrage “from a socialist standpoint.” Afterwards, she also gave a similar lecture at the Methodist church in Madison on May 11th and spoke in Pierre [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), April 29, 1909; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), April 30, 1909; Madison Daily Leader (SD), May 10, 1909].

NAWSA sent Laura Gregg of Kansas to lecture as an inauguration of the campaign [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), May 27, 1909, June 3, 1909; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), June 10, 1909].

June 18: The South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association held a state convention in Aberdeen [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 17, 1909]. According to one news item circulating at the time, “it is rumored that the ladies are having troubles of their own in the campaign, in which the W.C.T.U. wants to drive the band wagon, and the old-line equal suffrage workers want the campaign cut loose from the temperance organization, and make the fight on a straight-out suffrage campaign.  It is reported that the meeting at Aberdeen is expected to harmonize the differences which appear to exist” [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 24, 1909; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), June 25, 1909; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), June 25, 1909; et al.]. The Aberdeen meeting was presided over by Alice M.A. Pickler and the featured speaker was Ella Stewart of Chicago [Saturday News (Watertown SD), June 25, 1909].

During the Aberdeen meeting, the Political Equality League was established and Lydia B. Johnson elected president, planning to separate further from the temperance movement. The previous state officers resigned and the other posts were not filled.  A new campaign strategy included work to elect legislators who supported suffrage. Johnson set up a temporary campaign headquarters from her town, Fort Pierre, and spent eight months in field work “speaking at conventions, political, fraternal, religious, at the state fair, in churches and Sunday schools, high schools, halls, lodge meetings, hotel lobbies, stores, sewing societies, club meetings, social functions, court houses and theaters” [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 24, 1909; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), August 19, 1909; Madison Daily Leader (SD), August 13, 1909; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), August 20, 1909; Forty-second annual report of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, given at the Convention, held at Washington, D.C., April 14 to 19, inclusive (New York, 1910), 143, 146; Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3, 777, 792].

September: The new organization had a booth in the Woman’s Building, Lydia Johnson gave speeches, collected petition signatures, and hung Votes for Women banners over the doors of the Agriculture Building. A sample of the placards: “Dangerous to the State! / Cannot Vote / IDIOTS, CRIMINALS, LUNATICS, MINORS / and / YOUR MOTHERS, WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. / MEN, DO YOU LIKE THIS? / CHANGE IT. / November, 1910.” Perle Penfield reported that working the fair with Johnson was her first assignment in the state. She said that the booth in the women’s building was managed by state officers and secretary Tinsley, and another booth in the Beadle County building was managed by local suffragists and Penfield. Speeches were made each day at noon on the stair of the Women’s Building, and Penfield spoke twice a day from her booth and from automobiles. They afterwards brought materials for local suffrage workers in Mitchell to have a booth for the Corn Palace festival [Forty-second Annual Report NAWSA (New York: NAWSA, 1910), 146-147; Forty-third Annual Report of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association given at the Convention held at Louisville, KY. October 19 to 25 inclusive (New York 1911), 160161]. The SD WCTU also sent a representative to the Corn Palace to hand out literature on suffrage [Mitchell Capital (SD), September 30, 1909].

September 30: At their convention in Dell Rapids, the SD Federation of Women’s Clubs passed an endorsement of suffrage. Lydia Johnson was their president as well [Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), October 15, 1909; Mitchell Capital (SD), October 7, 1909, image 1, image 11; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), October 7, 1909].

October: Helen LaReine Baker of Spokane was invited to come to South Dakota to speak on suffrage. She was met by Lydia Johnson in Sturgis and was entertained in Pierre with a reception at the home of Governor Robert Vessey and his wife with the Pierre Women’s Club [The Enterprise (Harlem MT), October 13, 1909; Bismarck Daily Tribune (ND), October 13, 1909; Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 21, 1909; Mitchell Capital (SD), October 21, 1909; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), October 21, 1909; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), October 22, 1909; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), October 28, 1909; Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 143]. Later in Sioux Falls, she spoke to an audience in the New theater after the first act of “Charley’s Aunt”–a newspaper printed that “an exquisitely gowned, auburn-haired woman arose from her seat in a box and addressed the audience on ‘votes for women’… bore the frank gaze of the assembled crowd quietly and confidently” [“Page 141 : They Gasp at Mrs. Baker: Spokane Woman Gives Theater Audience Surprise,” Emma Smith DeVoe: 6/19/1910-9/30/1910 (Scrapbook K), Primarily Washington].

Rose Bower campaigned along the Milwaukee Road railroad line [Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), October 15, 1909].

In advance of the state convention in Sioux Falls, Rachel Foster Avery (NAWSA vice-president) met with suffragists in the Commercial Club rooms in the YMCA Block in Sioux Falls and spoke on suffrage to students and faculty of the Lutheran Normal School (now Augustana University). She also visited Hurley and Canton [Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 23, 1909; Lutheran Normal School Mirror 12(3) (December 1909), 59; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 28, 1909; Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), November 5, 1909]. Avery with Anna Howard Shaw, Perle Penfield, and state president Lydia Johnson were also given a luncheon reception by the Ladies’ History Club in Sioux Falls at the home of Mrs. O.A. Carpenter the day before the convention [Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), November 3, 1909].

November 3-5: The state suffrage convention was held in Sioux Falls.  It opened at the First Methodist Episcopal Church and a reception was held in the parlors of the Cataract Hotel — “and an invitation is extended to everybody, especially men, to be present” [Madison Daily Leader (SD), November 3, 1909].  Main speakers from out-of-state to inspire campaign work were Anna Howard Shaw (NAWSA president), Rachel Foster Avery (NAWSA vice-president), Lulu L. Shepard (Utah), and Perle Penfield (Texas). Special rail rates were offered “on the certificate plan” by the Western Passenger Association [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 28, 1909]. It was reported that the convention “has been widely advertised, and large delegations of suffragists from all over the state are in attendance” as well as attendees from non-suffrage organizations — “It will be the aim of the convention to convert all the delegates and send them back home as missionaries of the cause” [Madison Daily Leader (SD), November 3, 1909]. Governor R.S. Vessey sent a letter of support to be read to the convention, and Shaw told the crowd that it was the first time in history that a state governor had come out so strongly in favor so early in a campaign [Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), November 5, 1909, pg 1]. The crowd that came to attend Shaw’s keynote address on Friday night was too large for the church and an overflow meeting was held at the city auditorium.
Sources: Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), November 3, 1909, November 5, 1909, pg 1, pg 10, November 6, 1909; Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 18, 1909, November 5, 1909; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), October 29, 1909, November 12, 1909; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), October 29, 1909; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), October 28, 1909; Norfolk Weekly News-Journal (NE), November 5, 1909; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), November 11, 1909; Mitchell Capital (SD), November 11, 1909.

“The amendment campaign convention of the South Dakota Equal Suffrage association has passed into history and in point of attendance, in enthusiasm and in the support, encouragement, and promised cooperation of influential men from all parts of the state, it has far exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine.”
Mobridge News (SD), November 12, 1909.

“Resolved, that we, the members of the South Dakota Equal Suffrage association, express our appreciation, and extend our most sincere thanks to the trustees of the M. E. church (for the use of their church building; to the Rev. J. M. Brown for his most kind and courteous treatment; to the musicians for their excellent music that we have enjoyed; to the ladies of the Minnehaha County Equal Suffrage association for their hospitable entertainment during our stay in the city of Sioux Falls. In executive session this morning a further vote of thanks was passed to the newspapers of the city, and to all who have contributed to the success and pleasure of the convention.”
Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), November 6, 1909.

At the Sioux Falls convention, Lydia Johnson was retained as president and made chair of the state Votes for Women campaign, and Cicely Tinsley was hired to be managing secretary, working with a stenographer at the headquarters established in an office (maintained at the expense of the Minnehaha County Equal Suffrage Association) at 127 1/2 Phillips Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls, which had three rooms fronting on Phillips [Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), November 5, 1909; Omaha Daily Bee (NE), November 9, 1909; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), November 11, 1909; Page 1 and Page 4, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08427, and Page 2, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08438, Pyle Papers USD; Anna A. Mally, “The Equal Suffrage Campaign in South Dakota,” The Progressive Woman 3(34) (March 1910), 10]. The Votes for Women state leadership was a much larger group, with 18 members on a campaign committee, 5 members on an executive committee, a finance committee of 7 members, and 3 on an expenditure committee [Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 144].

State Headquarters at Sioux Falls South Dakota. Mrs. Tinsley and Sec’y.,” Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, ID: bmcccatt01020202.

Extract from “Suffragists Issue Address to State”:
“To every wage-earning woman; to every woman in the colleges and schools either as instructor or student; to every woman who recognizes the right of the wife to her own earning; to every woman to believes in ‘equal pay for equal work;’ to every woman who believes the mother ought to have, equally with the father, the right to the guardianship of their children;
To every man who realizes the value of the ballot to men; to every man who wants a ‘square deal’ for himself; to every man who wishes to see the women of the commonwealth lifted out of political companionship with male idiots, paupers and criminals; to every man who holds that liberty is the birthright of all the people;
To every man and woman who believes in the declaration of our forefathers that ‘Taxation without representation is tyranny;’ to every man and woman who believes in a single standard of morals; to every citizen who would give the country a high standard of citizenship….
Resolved, That we call upon all good citizens to lend the aid of their influence and to contribute of their time and their money to give the ballot to the women of our state in order that a ‘government of the people, for the people and by the people’ may be established in South Dakota.”
Mitchell Capital (SD), November 11, 1909.

In New York City, the National American Woman Suffrage Association held a mass meeting at Carnegie Hall, with addresses by Anna Howard Shaw, B.O. Aylesworth, and others, in order raise funds for the suffrage campaign in South Dakota. Robert S. Vessey, the state governor, was also invited to speak–he sent a telegram pledging his support, which was read out by Shaw at the rally. Tickets were sold for floor seats and boxes, while the balcony and gallery seats were free–“It is a new thing in America to charge admission to a suffrage meeting” [Madison Daily Leader (SD), November 9, 1909; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), November 11, 1909; Mitchell Capital (SD), November 18, 1909 (quoting The Woman’s Journal [Boston]); Ogdensburg Journal (NY), November 17, 1909; Marion Daily Mirror (OH), November 17, 1909; Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (ND), November 17, 1909; “Mrs. Belmont Presiding At Carnegie Hall Suffrage Meeting; page 2,” JK1881 .N357 sec. XVI, no. 3-9 NAWSA Coll, series: Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Scrapbook 8 (1909-1910), LOC].

Mrs. Belmont Presiding At Carnegie Hall Suffrage Meeting” “Mrs. Belmont Presiding At Carnegie Hall Suffrage Meeting; page 2,” Library of Congress, JK1881 .N357 sec. XVI, no. 3-9 NAWSA Coll, series: Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Scrapbook 8 (1909-1910).

December: Perle Penfield of Texas started campaign work in South Dakota with a visit in Canton and a week of organizing activity in Clay County [Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), November 26, 1909; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 16, 1909; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), December 17, 1909].


1910

An interesting series from the Independent in DeSmet:

“We have received a letter from the Equal Suffrage Association informing us that the question of equal suffrage is the most important of all questions to be settled at the next election.  We are glad to know this.  It had appeared to us to be the least important of any question before the people at the present time.”
Fred W. Wright, publisher
Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), December 3, 1909.

“Hello Fred… You had better change the steering wheel of the dear old Independent or you will have to take the dust of the equal suffragists ere long.”
Letter from Mrs G.W. (Sarah V.) Lattin, Fallon Nev., Jan 3d, 1910,
Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), January 14, 1910.

“From the town of Baked Beans, Mrs Charles P. Strong, secretary of the association opposed to the further extension of suffrage to women, writes to us to know if we will give space to their literature.  Of course, our answer is that we will not give them space.  The people of Boston have no more business to ‘butt in’ on this game on one side than the other. 
There may be no good reason why women should be allowed to vote, but it is a certainty there is no good reason why a bunch of females in the New England states should opposed equal suffrage in South Dakota.  There is a great deal of ‘horse play’ on both sides of this question, but this latest move seems to us the more foolish and useless of the two.”
Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), January 28, 1910.

In 1910, major field workers included Pearl Penfield, Rose Bower, and Anna Ursin. Other frequent campaign speakers were Rev. J.W. Taylor of Aberdeen, Rev. J.M. Brown of Sioux Falls, Florence Jeffries and Julius H. and Lydia B. Johnson of Fort Pierre, Anna Howard Shaw, Fola LaFollette, Emily Gardner of England, Ella Stewart and Harriet E. Grim of Illinois, and Barton O. Aylesworth and Omar A. Garwood of Denver. Among general speaking engagements, Penfield also sought outreach to the University of South Dakota and the State Normal School in Madison [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 16, 1909, February 3, 1910; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), December 17, 1909; Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 144]. LaFollette, a trained actor, included dramatic readings of the English play “How the Vote was Won” (recently distributed in the U.S. by a Chicago company) during her appearances. As an attorney, state chair Lydia Johnson frequently spoke on state laws affecting women and children. Aylesworth afterwards reported holding 103 public meetings in 54 locations during the three months he was in the state from June to November including the state WCTU convention at Huron, state Federation of Women’s Clubs at Aberdeen, a Chautauqua at Canton, the State Conservation Congress at Pierre, an Old Soldiers’ Reunion at Colton, a district fair at Scenic, the District Teachers’ Normal Association meeting at Mitchell, and the state fair at Huron [Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08427-RA08430, and Page 2, RA08438, Pyle Papers USD; Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), March 4, 1910; Bad River News (Philip SD), June 16, 1910, July 14, 1910; Philip Weekly Review (SD), June 30, 1910, July 14, 1910, August 25, 1910; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), July 1, 1910, July 8, 1910, July 22, 1910, August 12, 1910, September 23, 1910, pg 1pg 8, September 30, 1910, October 7, 1910, October 28, 1910; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), July 21, 1910; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 13, 1910; Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 793; Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 38; 97; 142-149; Forty-third Annual Report NAWSA (New York 1911), 98, 158, 160161. See more in Invaluable Out-of-Staters].

In March 1910, the Prohibition Party adopted a suffrage resolution in their platform saying it has “steadfastly advocated votes for women. We will do our utmost to secure the adoption of the constitutional amendment conferring the ballot upon women” [Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), March 24, 1910].

Also in March, Janet Cole and Hazel Philip of Fort Pierre did a “sandwich board” campaign in Chicago with signs reading “No Vote No Tax” [Philip Weekly Review (SD), March 31, 1910]. [I still have to research why they were there…]

Topeka State Journal (KS) March 26, 1910.

In July 1910, Henrietta Lyman, who once lived in Pierre and had moved to Madison, Wisconsin, toured in Turner County to campaign for suffrage and organize “committees headed by men appointed to look after the work.” She spoke at the Presbyterian church in Hurley as well as six townships in the county [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), July 21, 1910, July 28, 1910, August 4, 1910].

Perle Penfield: “Field work in a South Dakota winter is strenuous…. Waiting in country stations night after night to catch a train, and then rising before light to catch another.  Driving through storms with icicles on brows and lashes, wading through snow drifts with the mercury vainly reaching upward toward zero; holding meetings in all sorts of places, school houses, offices, court houses and churches.”
Page 2, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08427, Pyle Papers USD.

Penfield: “meetings are arranged in advance, but on the whole the organizer, even where entertainment is furnished, has to make all arrangements for meetings and many calls beside.  Addresses have been made at clubs, Church services, college and high school chapel exercises, in court houses, offices, halls and homes….
South Dakota towns do no offer transportation facilities and this means several miles walking a day; pleasant in good weather, but variously difficult during the winter.  There were experiences, amusing and otherwise, with drifts, drives and trains.  Today, March 28, for the first time in about three months, the train taken was on time.”
Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 148.

Rose Bower “stops one day in a town, stirs them up, wins votes, whistles for money and passes on.  Her reports are cheerful and cheering.”
Page 3, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08429, Pyle Papers USD.

Anna Ursin: “doing excellent work among the Scandinavians, visiting from house to house in country district, speaking in school and meeting houses, anywhere she can get a hearing”
Page 2, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08438, Pyle Papers, USD.

“Miss Ursin is most effective; she has a way of disappearing into the country and then suddenly reappearing with a handful of committees and workers.  Miss Walker of Bruce was in Headquarters last week and described a strenuous week driving over Brookings county with Miss Ursin, whom she considers a marvel of energy and purpose.”
Page 3, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08434, Pyle Papers, USD.

“Early and late, through storms and blizzards, these young women have traveled the state, speaking, organizing and creating sentiment for the suffrage amendment… Locally, our women, though unable to leave their homes, are working hard and really sacrificing more financially than they are able.  One woman alone secured five hundred signatures for the petition.” [143]
Lydia Johnson: “South Dakota is fierce in its storms, beautiful in its sunshine, great in its distances.  Our rapidly growing population is largely rural and railroads are few and far between… it is difficult to reach the individual voters… In the words of the press chairman, ‘Women cannot dig down in their pockets as men do to raise funds—they haven’t any pockets, and if they had they wouldn’t find much campaign money rattling around in them. It is going to be “hard sledding” for the women to finance a campaign as effectively as they are capable of planning it.’ To date we have spent about eleven hundred dollars, but our treasury is empty, and our needs are great.  The price of liberty is costly, we are paying it hopefully, cheerfully and courageously.” [144]
Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 143-144.

“The woman’s campaign in this state should be honored for the enemies it has made.”
“Today our leaders of thought tell us that some women will be permitted to observe the standards of purity which men have set for them only if they tamely consent to the enforced debauchery of other women. The women of the working class must be forced and betrayed into white slavery in order that the virtue of the comfortable home may be protected.” Opponents spread fear among men that women voting “will introduce into the general life the religious and moral standards which up to this time the men have so rigidly imposed upon the feminine half.”
Anna A. Mally, “The Equal Suffrage Campaign in South Dakota,” The Progressive Woman 3(34) (March 1910), 10.

In the 1910 campaign, the state put special effort into reaching Scandinavian populations in South Dakota. One of the field workers, Anna Ursin was of Norwegian heritage. Ursin translated posters, visited house to house, and held meetings at schools and local halls [Page 3 and Page 2, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08427, Pyle Papers USD]. Jane Rooker Breeden collected translated posters to distribute further [Page 5, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08431, Pyle Papers USD]. They also tried to obtain translators who could provide them with German-language versions of their material [RD06644, RD06650, Correspondence 1910-05, Breeden papers USD]. In Brookings, Gertrude Walker of Bruce organized the county and along with committees at several of the towns, she also established a Scandinavian committee [Page 4 Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08430, Pyle Papers USD].

As they worked across the state, Penfield organized men’s suffrage committees as well as the central committees in each county run by women. “The men are left to work in their own way.  An effort is at present being made to get the men to combine into a state wide league.  It has not advanced beyond the first stage of talking…” [Forty-second annual report NAWSA (New York, 1910), 148]. Men’s Suffrage Leagues formed in Sioux Falls and Lincoln County that provided public support from prominent male allies [Dennett to Breeden, RD06720, correspondence 1910-06, Breeden papers USD; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), November 4, 1910].

There were also several notable cases of suffragists reaching out specifically to working class voters. In Sioux Falls, Martha A. Scott targeted distributing literature to quarry workers in East Sioux Falls and men working on constructing buildings [Scott to Breeden, RD06819, correspondence 1910-09 to 1910-10, Breeden papers USD]. In Aberdeen, Mrs. C.S. Thorp wrote in her column in the Aberdeen American about “why the working women need the ballot” and sought to distribute campaign literature to members of the local Trades Union [Thorp to Breeden, October 7, 1910, RD06827, correspondence 1910-09 to 1910-10, Breeden papers USD]. Speakers from the Woman’s Committee of the National Socialist Party also came to South Dakota to speak for suffrage, including Anna Maley of Chicago who spoke in Madison and Sisseton [Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 17, 1910; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), October 21, 1910].

Headquarters secretary Cicely Tinsley arranged for a fundraiser with the Minneapolis Cereal Co. to receive a percentage of the sales of Cream of Rye product in South Dakota — I don’t know if it was a success… [Tinsley to general, April 2, 1910, RD07452, correspondence 1910-1916, Page 5, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08427, and Page 5, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, Pyle Papers USD]. In September, former resident Emma DeVoe sent South Dakota cookbooks that they had used in Washington state to raise funds for their successful election [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 1, 1910].

Fundraising was a difficult task: “But somehow we will raise money even if it will enable the public to recognize a suffragist by the fact that she has no new fall hat.”
Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (SD), September 16, 1910

April 19: Senator Coe I. Crawford and Representative Charles H. Burke presented 7,000 South Dakota signatures on petitions for women’s suffrage to the U.S. Senate and House (respectively) [Madison Daily Leader (SD), April 20, 1910].

April-September: The board of the state campaign had a leadership crisis, with disagreements between Tinsley as headquarters secretary, the “Committee of Five” that headed the board, and other field workers. Tinsley resigned in May as did several of the leaders in Sioux Falls. Tinsley’s resignation may also have been motivated by health concerns. Lydia Johnson and Perle Penfield covered tasks at the headquarters in Sioux Falls until a new secretary could be hired. In June, Tinsley was replaced as secretary by Minnie E. Sheldon and the office was moved to the Lakotah building [Letter LB Johnson to Breeden, April 27, 1910, RD06626, correspondence 1910-01 – 1910-04, RD06664, Mrs. J.L. White to Breeden, May 26, 1910, RD06666, Campbell to Breeden, RD06668, Penfield to Breeden, RD06672, RD06674, correspondence 1910-05, Breeden papers USD; Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), April 25, 1910; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 23, 1910; Turner County Herald (SD), September 8, 1910; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (SD), September 16, 1910, September 30, 1910].

Penfield fell out with many of the state and Sioux Falls committee workers. She later had an “enforced vacation during August,” and spend the remainder of the campaign until the election with suffragists in Beadle County, led by Mamie Pyle, where “cars left Huron every afternoon carrying speakers and entertainers, and meetings were held in every town and nearly every schoolhouse in the county” [Forty-third Annual Report NAWSA (New York 1911), 161].

“…appears to be slight friction between the state local quarters of the equal suffrage campaign and some of the local workers… Some of the locals are going ahead on their lines of work regardless of the protests of the state headquarters and there is more or less grouchiness being developed…. that feeling evidently has engendered in some of them the same desire to be at the head of the band wagon procession which is to be found on the masculine side of a campaign at times.”
Madison Daily Leader (SD), May 25, 1910.

And yet, Cicely Tinsley had written in a campaign bulletin newsletter: “Local work cannot be successfully directed from state headquarters.  Only general plans and helps can be sent out.  The details, the actual carrying out of the plans must be handled locally.  It is the personal work, the individual touch that is going to carry the state.”
Page 4, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08435, Pyle Papers, USD.

The state led by Lydia Johnson, Penfield for national, and counties were “hopelessly tangled at present.” This was complicated by Philena Johnson and WCTU campaigning from Mitchell “entirely distinct from the state suffrage headquarters at Sioux Falls” and wasn’t plagued by the same in-fighting. From reports, locals said that the state “refuses them any right of initiative” and state and national were “wasting their strength and efforts in quarreling with one another.” Penfield was not able to smooth things out, and Aylesworth came to help “but apparently did not get very far in his efforts.” At the start, WCTU had tried to demand to lead the campaign, but ESA refused to fold under.
Saturday News (Watertown SD), July 15, 1910; Madison Daily Leader (SD), July 7, 1910.

“It is said that the ladies who the burden of the management of the woman suffrage campaign on their shoulders are just now in a scrap among themselves.  One faction wants to run in a prohibition plank in their platform as a bait to catch the temperance vote and the other faction says ‘no.’  We have a notion that if women are given the right to vote it will not be exercised to any great extent except upon that one question.  They have long had the right to vote upon such important matters as school elections, but it is seldom the right is ever exercised.”
Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), July 15, 1910.

June: State press chair Nana Gilbert, “a newspaper woman of wide experience and … popular with the publishers of the state,” went to the hospital and eventually resigned to focus on recovery [Page 4, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08435, and Page 3, Bulletin – votes for women, c1910, RA08439, Pyle Papers, USD; Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), June 16, 1910; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 16, 1910]. In August, Gilbert was replaced as press chair by fellow editor, Edith M. Fitch of Hurley [Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), August 26, 1910, September 2, 1910].

A selection of quotes from Fitch editorials:

Racism persisted in the suffrage movement during this campaign:
“In South Dakota, convicts, feeble minded, tribal Indians and women disenfranchised.  The first three classes are prohibited from voting because they are believed to possess defects of character that render them unfit for the priveleges[sic] of citizenship.  The last class is discriminated against because of sex.  There is no other reason.”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), August 18, 1910; Bad River News (Philip SD), August 18, 1910.

“What is the matter with you men who are so opposed to woman suffrage? What are you scared about?”
“There is more to the suffrage question than the mere right to vote. Women are now ineligible to hold any office beyond those connected with the schools. A woman cannot even act as a clerk of election. Complaint is not made against this for the reason that women wish to hold office.  The experience of suffrage states show that they do not so aspire. But it is unworthy of the intelligent and chivalrous manhood of South Dakota, that women are declared legally incompetent for the responsibilities that are in the reach of the most ignorant immigrant…”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 1, 1910.

“Should these indifferent men be disenfranchised?…. Are women indifferent? Yes, and men have made and kept them so.”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 22, 1910.

About Fitch:
“The lady who is chairman of the woman suffrage campaign press committee is not so slow to catch onto the political way of treating the newspapers.  She sends us every week enough ‘canned’ editorial on her pet subject to fill half a page”
Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), September 23, 1910.

Back to her editorials:
“The Aberdeen News seems to confess itself afraid to engage in a controversy with the gentle editor of this department.  Being afraid of things was supposed to be woman’s peculiar prerogative.”
Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), September 23, 1910.

“Sometimes women are told not to meddle with politics.  But politics meddles with every department of the home… To tell women that politics is too corrupt for them to touch is the veriest nonsense.  If politics is grimy it is the business of clean minded men and women to enter its domain and apply the scrub brush.  The homes are menaced when politics is corrupt.”
Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), September 30, 1910.

“The real weakness in the position of The Republican is that it urges objections against the women that it does not allow against the men.  It is not required of men that they purify politics or that their indifference should disfranchise them…. And here is the real point.  Women are disfranchised not because indifference or inability but simply because they are women.  They are a subject class ruled by men.  Intelligent women cannot like this and that is why they ask for suffrage.”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 6, 1910.

About the Anti-suffragists in Boston who had been mailing literature to South Dakota residents: “We can’t be vexed with them.  They are dear, nice old ladies, every one of them and when they die they will all go straight to Heaven.  But they can’t understand the problems of working women.  A woman living in a Dakota claim shanty would be to them an interesting freak and my sister editors with printers’ ink on their fingers would not be received in their parlors.  This is another world far from the tranquilizing influence of cultured Boston.  But isn’t it a shame that they are wasting so much postage?”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 13, 1910.

That the modern day asks for “a new and nobler chivalry that protects women by according to her all the rights and opportunities for development and happiness that man requires for himself.”
Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), October 21, 1910.

“If the spirit of freedom and patriotism is laudable in man it is also in women… To be self governed and self respecting are two of the greatest needs of women kind.  South Dakota women are not downtrodden but they are a subject class so long as they must obey laws which they do not make.”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 27, 1910.

July: Huron suffragists led by Lorena Fairbank and Mamie Pyle published a suffrage petition signed by 100 women in the Daily Huronite [July 11, 1910]:
“We, the undersigned women of Huron, South Dakota, believe the condition of this state at the present time demand our earnest attention to the question of equal suffrage. An amendment to the state constitution giving women the right to vote will be one of the issues of the coming November election. We believe if the women of South Dakota had the right of the ballot they would be better able to assist in securing more efficient laws for the advancement of home interests. Therefore, we appeal to men and women to urge voters to consider this subject and to cast their ballots in November for equal suffrage.”

September: The 1910 state fair’s Woman Suffrage Day saw “a large attendance of all favoring that movement” [Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 521]. Suffragists campaigning at the state fair included B.O. Aylesworth of Colorado, Henrietta Lyman of Wisconsin, Mary E. Craigie of Brooklyn NY, Penfield, Lydia Johnson, Minnie Sheldon, and Chestina Thorpe of the state committee. Penfield reported that “the grounds were well placarded, much literature was distributed, and effective propaganda accomplished.” After the fair, they brought the exhibits to the Corn Palace [Madison Daily Leader (SD), September 2, 1910; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), September 22, 1910, October 6, 1910; Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), September 30, 1910; Forty-third Annual Report NAWSA (New York 1911), 160161].

Photos of the 1910 South Dakota State Fair grounds, and PDF copy of “The South Dakota State Fair from its origin–1885 to 1910–its successes and failures,” collections of the Library of Congress.
SD Digital Archives: photo of crowds and the Woman’s Building in H.S. Berlinger’s 1912 film of the fair, #2019-08-13-322.

September 28: The state WCTU met in convention in Huron. The convention included a discussion and addresses on suffrage. Anna Simmons and Alice Pickler were elected president and vice-president [Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), September 29, 1910; et al.].

“The state W.C.T.U. resolved to boost for the passage of the woman suffrage amendment.  It is presumed that they will do it temperately.”
The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), September 29, 1910.

October: The Demosthenian and the Adelphic Literary Societies at Augustana college both held debates on equal suffrage [The Augustana 3(8) (November 1, 1910), 15, 16].

October 21: Shortly before the November election, delegates at the South Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs’ state meeting, held in at the normal school auditorium in Aberdeen, rejected a resolution endorsing equal suffrage with a vote of 16 to 20. The question had not even been on the program until they were “flooded with protests from suffrage advocates” and opponents. The convention heard speeches on suffrage from B.O. Aylesworth of Colorado and Mary Craigie of Brooklyn NY and support of suffrage had been voiced during the welcoming addresses of Alderman John Wade (president of the Aberdeen commercial club) and Mayor H.J. Rock, as well as in annual remarks from Lydia B. Johnson. According to one report, many delegates were out of the room when the vote was taken and others who themselves supported suffrage did not think the Federation should get involved as an organization. The Federation’s vote made the news in many South Dakota cities and beyond. [Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 22, 1910; Mitchell Capital (SD), October 13, 1910, October 19, 1910, October 27, 1910; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), October 27, 1910; Saturday News (Watertown SD), October 28, 1910; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), November 3, 1910; Omaha Daily Bee (NE), October 22, 1910].

One editorial comment after the Federation of Women’s Clubs’ state meeting made an accusation of class prejudice, saying: “the intelligence among South Dakota women is not confined to the club members and one would not expect democratic measures for the benefit of the masses to be actively promoted by them.  It is cause for congratulation that so many as 18 out of 38 of the delegates in spite of their social training are in favor of active suffrage work.”
Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), October 27, 1910; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), October 28, 1910.

November: Just before the election, NAWSA president Anna Shaw returned to South Dakota to make a 13-day, 13-stop tour of the state, including stops in Rapid City, Hot Springs, Lead, Mitchell, Pierre, and Huron [Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), October 14, 1910, October 28, 1910; Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), October 20, 1910, October 27, 1910; Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), November 2, 1910; Madison Daily Leader (SD), November 2, 1910; Mitchell Capital (SD), November 10, 1910; “American Suffragists Need Money,” JK1881 .N357 sec. XVI, no. 3-9 NAWSA Coll, series: Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Scrapbook 9 (1910-1911), Library of Congress].

The suffrage amendment was defeated at the election by more than 20,000 votes [Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), November 11, 1910; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), December 15, 1910].

December 1-2: The South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association held a convention in Huron. The program included election of officers and the discussion of a proposal from the national association to reorganize in a manner more like political parties. There was also a concerted effort to “[leave] out of discussions all questions not directly bearing upon the equal suffrage proposition” — like temperance [Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), November 18, 1910; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), November 17, 1910, December 1, 1910; Kingsbury County Independent (DeSmet SD), December 9, 1910]. There was notable internal opposition to reorganizing as a party, but it was still attempted with executive committee: Mamie Shields Pyle (chair), Jennie Walton (secretary), Lorena King Fairbank (treasurer), Elinor Whiting, and Alice Pickler [Madison Daily Leader (SD), December 2, 1910, Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 8, 1910; Bad River News (Philip SD), December 8, 1910].

In 1923, at a Minnehaha County League of Women Voters luncheon, Mrs. Albert Pankow of Sioux Falls reflected on the 1910 campaign, saying:
“[Men] would admit at home that their wives and sisters should have the vote; but as soon as they got out in public, they would forget and declare against the woman suffrage question. It was not until just before the law was passed that they became brave enough to say before other men what they said to their wives.”
Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), September 15, 1923.


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