Timeline of South Dakota Suffrage, 1917-1918

Before 18891889-18901891-18961897-18981899-19081909-19101911-19121913-19141915-1916 — 1917-1918 — After 1918

Key Players

Mamie Shields Pyle
May P. Ghrist
Etta Etsey Boyce
Mabel Rewman
Rose Bower
Ruth Bowman Hipple
Lydia B. Johnson
Hattie E. Fellows
Myra P. Weller
Alice Pickler
Anna R. Simmons
Gov. Peter Norbeck
Belle Leavitt
Maria S. McMahon (Washington D.C.)
Mary Elizabeth Pidgeon (Virginia)
Rene E.H. Stevens (Nebraska)
Ida Stadie (New York)
Stella Crossley (New York)
Gertrude Watkins (Arkansas)
Josephine Miller (Arkansas)
Nettie Rogers Schuler (New York)
Beulah Amidon (North Dakota)
Margaret Whittemore (Michigan)
Mabel Vernon (Washington D.C.)
Jane Pincus (New York)


Mamie Pyle, Etta Boyce, and Mabel Rewman, with Rose Bower, Ruth Hipple, and Lydia Johnson, led advocacy work at the legislature in Pierre in the winter of 1917. They “began a systematic polling of both houses, announcing that unless assured of the strength to pass a suffrage amendment no measure would be introduced…. they reached the conclusion that there was abundant strength to carry the measure and consequently it was introduced in both houses” [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 4, 1917; Lemmon Herald (SD), January 17, 1917; Saturday News (Watertown SD), January 18, 1917; Pettigrew to Pyle, January 13, 1917, RA07482, Box 1, Correspondence, 1917, Janurary- December, Pyle Papers, USD]. On January 12th, Pierre’s Political Equality Club held a reception at the St. Charles Hotel down the street from the capitol for legislators and their wives. It was reportedly “the social event of the season after the Inaugural Reception and Ball” for the 500 guests. The ballroom was decorated with southern smilax and yellow narcissi, and lights were shaded with yellow chrysanthemums [Shuler, Pierre Since 1910, 220]. On January 13th, the amendment was passed “after a heated discussion” on the Senate floor where “the galleries on that side were well filled with women of both the suffrage and anti factions” [Madison Daily Leader (SD), January 13, 1917; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), January 19, 1917]. The amendment was passed also by the House and went on to the 1918 ballot [Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), February 2, 1917; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), February 1, 1917]. Later in February, a senator introduced a municipal suffrage bill but it died in committee and was opposed by the SDUFL for its potential to confuse the campaign for the full suffrage amendment [Forest City Press (SD), February 23, 1917, March 2, 1917].

January 13: Interested women met at the Quaker Tea Room in the Hub Building (133-135 S. Phillips) in Sioux Falls on January 13, 1917, on “one of the bitter cold days of winter, with the thermometer at twenty below zero,” and a state board of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage was organized under the chairmanship of Mrs. A.F. Fellows.  Tables were decorated with yellow roses and violets.  Beulah Amidon (photo), who had been speaking across the state for a month, and Margaret Whittemore (photo while campaigning in Oregon) were organizers of the conference and principal speakers, though the speakers’ table also included South Dakota women Mary Peabody, Hattie E. Fellows, Hazel G. Fellows, Myra Weller, and Mrs. A.A. McDonald.  Elected officers of the state board included prominent South Dakota suffragists Alice Pickler and Anna Simmons [Madison Daily Leader (SD), January 9, 1917; Mitchell Capital (SD), January 18, 1917; The Suffragist 5(56) (January 24, 1917), 8 (includes image of Mrs. H.F. Fellows), 5(94) (November 10, 1917), 8; Argus Leader (Sioux Falls SD), November 1, 1917; 1918 Sioux Falls City Directory, via Ancestry.com]. Weller returned to Mitchell and enrolled other local suffrage club members for the Congressional Union [Mitchell Capital (SD), February 15, 1917].

University of South Dakota students gave a play by Mrs. C.E. Lyon “wife of the professor of public speaking and oratory.  It was a suffraget play entitled ‘Her Hat in the Ring'” [The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), March 29, 1917; Forest City Press (SD), April 6, 1917; et al.].

That spring, the U.S. entered the world war in Europe:
“The state equal suffrage organization has notified the governor that it is ready to take up any work required of it in the war situation and is subject to call for any duty which may be required of it by the governor.”
The Pioneer (Philip SD), May 24, 1917; Saturday News (Watertown SD), May 24, 1917.

At a Mitchell suffrage club meeting “members voted the Red Cross society their cooperation, and both societies are going to work in harmony.”
Mitchell Capital (SD), June 14, 1917.

Mamie Pyle was invited by Gertrude Gunderson of Vermillion, with the Woman’s Committee of National Defense, to a meeting of all heads of women’s organizations in the state to be held at the Carpenter Hotel in Sioux Falls on June 8 [Gunderson to Pyle, May 30, 1917, RA07491, Box 1, Correspondence, 1917, January- December, Pyle Papers USD].

October 31: Mabel Vernon, secretary of the National Women’s Party (NWP, the Congressional Union’s successor), and Jane Pincus, NWP organizer, came to South Dakota.  They met with supporters at a tea at the home of Myra Weller in Mitchell where they spoke about picketing the White House and plans for lobbying Congress, and they met with Mrs. J.D. Stemler in Plankinton. On October 31st, they met with Hattie E. Fellows and the other state leaders in Sioux Falls with a lunch at the Cataract Hotel and tea/meeting at the Quaker Tea Room.  The tables were decorated with yellow chrysanthemums and the colors purple, gold, and white  [Grand Forks Herald (ND), October 9, 1917; Mitchell Capital (SD), November 1, 1917, pg 4, pg 5, November 8, 1917; Argus Leader (Sioux Falls SD), November 1, 1917The Suffragist 5(94) (November 10, 1917), 8].


In Januay 1918, The Woman Citizen reported that suffragists in Mitchell (perhaps led by Myra Weller) sent President Wilson and party leadership in both houses of Congress resolutions for a federal suffrage amendment. SD’s Senator Johnson introduced the resolutions into the Congressional Record [The Woman Citizen 2 (January 26, 1918), 168].

The SDUFL set up campaign headquarters for Pyle and a secretary in Rooms 13 and 14 of the Masonic Block in Huron [“BROADSIDE : ISN’T IT TRUE?” and “Broadside : Logic for the business man.” SOUTH DAKOTA UNIVERSAL FRANCHISE LEAGUE. Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection, private collection; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), March 28, 1918]. In May, the S.D.U.F.L. sent word to the Red Cross that it would donate all its speakers and county chairmen to their war effort drive [The Woman Citizen 2 (May 25,, 1918), 510].

National organizer for South Dakota Maria McMahon: “Our big stunt this month is offering ourselves for work in the Red Cross drive… We are sending copies of this letter to all our County Chairmen and going to have stories in the papers about it.”
McMahon, 1918?, RA12088, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, December, Pyle Papers USD.

When McMahon spoke at a weekly YWCA meeting in Madison, “she presented suffrage as a war measure.  The girls continued their work on war relief while she talked, as it is felt that this work is far too important to be discontinued even for one meeting.”
Madison Daily Leader (SD), February 16, 1918.

Leaflet “Suffrage and War”
— March 1918, RD08126, correspondence 1918-03-01 to 1918-03-11, Pyle papers USD.

March: With support from the SD Council on National Defense, Governor Peter Norbeck called a special legislative session to limit “alien voting” [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), February 28, 1918, March 28, 1918; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), March 21, 1918, March 28, 1918; Saturday News (Watertown SD), March 21, 1918; Madison Daily Leader (SD), March 21, 1918, March 23, 1918; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), March 28, 1918].  Dakota had let immigrants vote on first citizenship papers.  With so many American men away from home and not able to vote, people feared that the aliens could sway the vote through their greater numbers (first-paper aliens were not being called for military service).  The changes in voting were just one of the “emergency measures arising as a consequence of the war,” the others proposed by Governor being: to permit soldiers to vote, increase revolving fund for operating the twine plant, and a constitutional amendment to permit the state to operate coal mines. Other issues being considered were laws about treason, sabotage, and violence; the use of English in all grade schools; ratifying the federal prohibition amendment; and creating home guards and councils of defense [The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), March 21, 1918; Saturday News (Watertown SD), March 21, 1918].

Norbeck — “Under our present constitution those who have declared their intention to become citizens have enjoyed practically all the rights of citizens, including holding offices of public trust.  In some places they have held such positions for a great many years, yet now claim exemption from military service on the grounds that they are aliens.  I recommend that the Equal Suffrage Amendment now pending, be amended so as to require full citizenship as a basis for all suffrage.”
The Woman Citizen 2 (April 6, 1918), 369.

“As Universal Franchise League president, Mary Shields Pyle was called to Pierre to consult with the governor and the legislature regarding this constitutional change. As she traveled to the capital, she was concerned that this move was ‘yet another ploy’ to defeat woman suffrage, but her fears were relieved when she learned that the legislature intended to add a citizenship clause to the already existing woman suffrage amendment bill” [Easton, “Woman Suffrage in South Dakota,” 223-224]. Pyle suggested that their campaign would end there— “the men have made our amendment their affair and they will take care of it.”  But Governor Norbeck and several senators at the meeting reportedly replied: “On the contrary, we depend on you to make the best campaign you have ever made.  The double question will require double effort to carry and the women must do the work” [Maria S. McMahon, “How to Win a State,” The Woman Citizen 3 (November 16, 1918), 508, and (July 20, 1918), 148].

 “By this action it has been made possible for the men and women by South Dakota to engage in an active campaign for true American citizenship regardless of sex.  South Dakota suffragists welcome the amendment as strengthening the woman suffrage case.  They say that only the alien will vote against the amended amendment… all are united in praise of the Governor and the legislators who initiated and carried through this measure for truer citizenship.”
The Woman Citizen 2 (April 6, 1918), 369.

“the safety of the state demands it”
The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), October 24, 1918.

Antis could not work against it “without bringing down upon their own heads the accusation of disloyalty.”
Pyle to Larson, November 12, 1918, RA11804, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Mamie Shields Pyle: “It will not mean … that we can lessen our activity. No campaign will carry on its own momentum. We must work earnestly and persistently, upheld by the knowledge that we are serving our State and our country, as well as gaining our own political freedom, when we cooperate with our men to add to the vote a large body of loyal, intelligent citizens and eliminate, at the same time, those who are unnaturalized.”
Quoted in Easton, “Woman Suffrage in South Dakota,” 224.

“We are very hopeful of victory and I am sure all loyal American citizens of this state will feel very much ashamed if, under the circumstances, we should lose this time… my own idea is that it does not make it any easier to have the citizenship clause attached”
Pyle to Clara Ueland, September 18, 1918, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 308.B.15.9B, Box 3,  Conventions, 1913-1919, Mississippi Valley Conferences, Folder 2, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

On the organization of a suffrage committee for Bon Homme County:
“They are sure, however, that they are quite in keeping with the spirit of the day, when they ask for a weapon with which to fight the kind of enemy who attacks us in the rear and helps to weaken our government; such enemies as dirt, disease, infant mortality, greed and graft and all those other things that fatten on corrupt politics. They want South Dakota to be the best kind of a place for our men to return to after the war, and they are anxious to do their bit toward making it so and they are not going to slack up on their knitting, food conservation or selling of Liberty Bonds or any thing else they may be asked to do either.”
The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), March 28, 1918.

To limit the time required of local women in campaign work, the SDUFL coordinated with NAWSA to have organizers brought in to the state, including: Maria McMahon of Washington D.C., Mary Elizabeth Pidgeon of Virginia (northeastern SD), Rene Stevens (Aberdeen and Black Hills), Ida Stadie of NY, Stella Crossley of NY (southern SD), Gertrude Watkins (southern SD) and Josephine Miller of Little Rock AR, and Liba Peshakova of Chicago. Pidgeon was headquartered at the Kempeska Hotel in Watertown [Saturday News (Watertown SD), April 4, 1918; May 16, 1918; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), July 5, 1918, July 19, 1918; The Citizen-Republican (Scotland SD), July 11, 1918; Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), July 12, 1918; Madison Daily Leader (SD), August 15, 1918, August 19, 1918; McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 509].

“We are on the eve of beginning a campaign of publicity, urging that the alien voter apply for the rest of his papers and thereby not suffer by the result of the election in the fall.  You see, he will also have a vote as to whether he will take out his full paper, so we are intending to co-operate with the men in making a full citizenship campaign.  You can see this is along the line of patriotic duty and we want to make all of our suffrage activities in the same way.”
Pyle to Ueland, April 10, 1918, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 308.B.15.9B, Box 3,  Conventions, 1913-1919, Mississippi Valley Conferences, Folder 2, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

“…these questions were constantly met.  No one could make a speech without answering them, and we were continually accused of having played a smart political trick—often it was characterized as ‘low’ rather than smart…. We had to show the neutral aliens how they could complete their naturalization without losing a vote and to persuade the loyal German that he ought to be willing to wait the period of the war through for his citizenship if he were really considering the good of the state.”
McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 508.

Crossley and Watkins were loved by local committees — “Never a fair that was not covered, nor a Teachers’ Institute, nor a Farmers’ Alliance, nor a political meeting.  Everywhere that voters foregathered, there they were.” Peshakova was “a sort of wizard when it came to money-raising and petition work.” Stadie “had several of the hardest counties” with large foreign-born populations — “In Hutchinson county she raised money, edited, and issued a bi-monthly bulletin which was sent to every home, carrying to most of them the first message they had ever had on woman suffrage.” [McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 509].

They dispensed with the mass meetings and rallies on suffrage that had been key to previous campaigns, “but we used every one’s else, from aid societies to Rotary clubs, political meetings and Fourth of July celebrations.  We did not plan parades, but wherever patriotic sentiment expressed itself through a parade we were in the parade.” In a Sioux Falls parade, Belle Leavitt arranged young women into a suffrage map for the march, and other women were “dressed in national costumes of the full suffrage countries.” In a parade in Scotland SD, Ida Stadie “had a whole section depicting the advance of women held back by ignorance, prejudice, and vices, women’s war activities, etc.”

Sioux Falls women impersonating countries where women vote. A ‘Float’ in the Suffrage Parade-July 4th 1918,” Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, ID: bmcccatt01020204.

The UFL also distributed folders with The Star-Spangled Banner and other songs “at patriotic gatherings and conventions” [McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 508; The Woman Citizen 3 (June 8, 1918), 28, 3 (July 20, 1918), 158; McMahon to Ueland, May 20, 1918, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 308.B.15.9B, Box 3,  Conventions, 1913-1919, Mississippi Valley Conferences, Folder 2, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul]. Later in October, several of these young women had disagreements with McMahon and Pyle that disrupted campaign work, and McMahon had to leave the state suddenly when her son Percy passed away [Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers, USD].

The S.D.U.F.L. also sent resolutions, letters, and news editorials to Senator E.S. Johnson to give to the Committee on Woman Suffrage in support of a federal suffrage amendment [Congressional Record (June 3, 1918), 7276].

June 3-20: Six Schools of Methods were organized by Pidgeon and the UFL in Watertown, Aberdeen, Huron, Pierre, Deadwood, Mitchell, and Sioux Falls. Those in Watertown and Deadwood at least were followed by “patriotic” banquets with war work organization heads invited and a menu following war regulations [Madison Daily Leader (SD), April 27, 1918; Philip Weekly Review (SD), May 9, 1918, June 20, 1918; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), May 10, 1918, May 31, 1918; Saturday News (Watertown SD), May 23, 1918, May 30, 1918, June 6, 1918, June 13, 1918; Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), June 9, 1918, June 12, 1918; Forest City Press (SD), June 27, 1918].  The schools included talks by McMahon on organization and press/publicity, NAWSA corresponding secretary Nettie Rogers Schuler on methods, and state VP May Ghrist on Amendment E specifics [“School of methods,” South Dakota Universal Franchise League, June 1918, RA05030-RA05033, Box 7, Printed Materials, Pamphlets – South Dakota Universal Franchise League, Pyle Papers, USD; Saturday News (Watertown SD), May 30, 1918]. Speakers also traveled to neighboring towns to give talks, covering seventeen towns total in the fourteen days [The Woman Citizen 3 (July 20, 1918), 158].

The Woman Citizen 3 (July 20, 1918), 148. A better resolution image at: “S. Dakota Suffrage School,” Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, ID: bmcccatt01020203.

June 23-24: Myra Weller went to the state Non-Partisan League convention, held in Mitchell, and spoke for suffrage. At her prompt, the NPL endorsed a suffrage resolution [The Nonpartisan Leader (Fargo ND), August 19, 1918].

July 4: At Ruskin Park near Forestburg, Mamie Pyle and Maria McMahon planned “to make an aeroplane flight and distribute literature, were on hand but the big passenger car was incapacitated and unable to make the flight.  A smaller plane beautifully decorated, made a flight with suffrage pennants and streamers flying in the breeze, above 25,000 persons gathered on the grounds.  In the evening Mrs. McMahon spoke from the grand stand” [The Woman Citizen 3 (July 20, 1918), 158].

August: The Minnehaha County Franchise League held a meeting at their headquarters at which Lola Levoy was introduced; she was a local Red Cross nurse who volunteered for duty in France in response to a call put out by the suffrage association. Also at the meeting, field organizer Maria McMahon spoke on the suffragists’ war work and the work of women for the Council of Defense [Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), August 15, 1918].

In addition to public meetings and rallies over the summer, local suffrage clubs undertook extensive canvassing work, hung posters, and did petition drives. Organizers led many of the drives, coming in for two to three days and directing local women in the work, then holding street meetings in the evenings. They left literature, posters placarded, newspaper stories, and morale among local workers. McMahon later wrote that “we called our organizers ‘the grasshoppers’ during these drives, because they cleaned up a county in a day.” Eventually, organizers focused on reaching individual voters and dispensed with speaking events. Several communities published petition results and names in their local newspapers shortly before the election [Madison Daily Leader (SD), August 17, 1918; Rapid City Journal (SD), October 16, 1918; Saturday News (Watertown SD), October 31, 1918; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), November 1, 1918; Leavitt to Pyle, November 1, 1918, RA11619, Rewman to Pyle, November 1, 1918, RA11629, Stadie to Pyle, November 3, 1918, RA11654-RA11655, and Ghrist to Pyle, November 5, 1918, RA11682-RA11683, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD; Pyle to Clara Ueland, September 25, 1918, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 308.B.15.9B, Box 3,  Conventions, 1913-1919, Mississippi Valley Conferences, Folder 2, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 508; Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), January 9, 1919; Schuler, Pierre Since 1910, 220].

When Peshakova and Watkins spoke on the corner of Egan & Center streets in Madison, attorney Ira Blewitt made the introductory remarks:
“He dwelt upon the ease by which aliens, through loosely constructed laws, suddenly become full-fledged voters and then contrasted these as to their intelligence to understand our institutions and principals of government with our large body of women of ability and intellect who are now the mothers of our soldiers and the right arm of their welfare while at the front.  His appeal to male voters was indeed a manly defense of the suffrage amendment.”
Madison Daily Leader (SD), August 19, 1918.

McMahon later wrote that an unnamed traveling man said “One cannot get into Sioux Falls without hearing and seeing ‘Amendment E’ at every step, posters at the station and in every windows, huge street banner, big headquarters, everybody wearing buttons and all the women poking leaflets at one.”
McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 509.

“It has always been hard to get people to come to a purely suffrage meeting, when there were not so many distractions, but now I am wondering if even Mrs. Catt will draw a very large audience…  It is difficult to raise money and extremely difficult to get any sort of work done and with every body tense, as every body is, over the war situation, there is very little heart for conferences or extra efforts of any kind.”
McMahon to Clara Ueland, August 6, 1918.
“We have really put on a worthwhile campaign, considering how few workers we have had and how little money.  The South Dakota women are a very limp lot—with the exception of about half a dozen, the campaign has been run from the outside, but I believe it is going to pull through, in spite of our anti-alien complication.”
McMahon to Ueland, August 31, 1918, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 308.B.15.9B, Box 3,  Conventions, 1913-1919, Mississippi Valley Conferences, Folder 2, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

October: The 1918 influenza outbreak caused many city/county bans on public meetings and gatherings that disrupted the suffrage campaigns final plans leading up to the election, both for outreach and fundraising [Jones, “A Case Study,” 108-109]. More in this site’s blog post: The Influenza Epidemic in South Dakota, from Suffragists’ Letters.

“I do hope this is the last battle of this kind that South Dakota women will ever have to conduct and from now on we may be doing constructive work for women, rather than pleading for that which is already our right.”
Pyle to Bower, November 2, 1918, RA11632, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD.

“No one who has not campaigned in a state like South Dakota can imagine the difficulties they faced—hard enough at any time—with tremendous distances, poor railroad service, and a large foreign population; in war time, with everyone’s attention focused on specific war activities, with all the money going to war investments, and an influenza epidemic sweeping the country, next to impossible.”
McMahon, “How to Win a State,” 508.

The SDUFL received large street banners that had been donated for the campaign. Pyle wrote to NAWSA’s Nettie Schuler that because of their size, they were “a nightmare… I never want to see them again.”  One at Aberdeen burned when it hit trolley wire and caught fire. Pyle heard from Mrs. Callett that the whole community came out to see the fire department at work, that it was a big story in the papers and they chalked it up to ‘any publicity is good publicity’ [Pyle to Shuler, November 2, 1918, RA11640-RA11642, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD].

Near the end of the campaign, Crossley, Watkins, and Peshakova came into conflict with Maria McMahon and went on something of a strike. Crossley resigned on October 17, though Watkins and Peshakova later expressed regret and did continue some work in the final days. Stadie played intermediary — meeting with Watkins and Peshakova in Aberdeen to hear their concerns, then meeting in Pyle in Huron, and going back again to Watkins and Peshakova in Mitchell to try and convince them to continue campaigning. Carrie Chapman Catt tried to reassure Pyle by writing “There have been many incidents which have come to our attention in the last year to show that people’s nerves are pretty close to the skin, and I diagnosed the case of those organizers as a case of nerves.  I presume they were tired; I presume they were oppressed; I presume they were more or less frightened over the Influenza and therefore sensitive… You and Mrs. McMahon are in no sense blameable.” [Catt to Pyle, November 4, 1918, RA11656].

Correspondence from the Pyle Papers at USD-Vermillion regarding the conflict:

  • Pyle to McMahon, November 1, 1918, RA11621-RA11624, McMahon to Pyle, November 5, 1918, RA11685, and Pyle to McMahon, November 5, 1918, RA11691-RA11693, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Pyle to Schuler, November 1, 1918, RA11625-RA11628, and Pyle to Shuler, November 2, 1918, RA11640-RA11642, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Pyle to Rewman, November 2, 1918, RA11638, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Stadie to Pyle, November 1, 1918, RA11630, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Pyle to Ghrist, November 2, 1918, RA11637, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Pyle to Leavitt, November 3, 1918, RA11646-RA11647, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Catt to Pyle, November 4, 1918, RA11656, and Pyle to Catt, November 4, 1918, RA11663, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Peshakova to Pyle, November 5, 1918, RA11689, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Catt to Pyle, November 12, 1918, RA11795, and Pyle to Catt, November 12, 1918, RA11801, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14
  • McMahon to Pyle, November 10, 1918, RA11781, and Pyle to McMahon, November 12, 1918, RA11807, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14
  • Watkins to McMahon, November 5, 1918, RA11696, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Watkins to Pyle, November 5, 1918, RA11696, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7
  • Peshakova to Pyle, November 12, 1918, RA11798, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14
  • Catt to Pyle, December 2, 1918, RA12008 and RA12009, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, December
  • McMahon to Pyle, December 6, RA12026-RA12034, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, December
  • Pyle to Stevens, December 27, 1918, RA12071-RA12073, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, December

November:  Because of concerns about voter “intimidation” in Deadwood, the national franchise league sent Elsie Benedict (newspaperwoman of Denver) to coordinate policing the polls.  After an address at the high school, groups of four girls per poll went out to monitor on election day.  Cicely Tinsley, then living in Deadwood, agreed to “supervise and protect the girls.” [Doughty, “The Suffrage Movement in Lawrence County,” 656].  For the first time, Lawrence County voted in favor of suffrage by 343 votes.

Suffrage passed in November 1918 with 64% of the vote.  South Dakota was the 17th state to approve full suffrage for women.
Easton,“Woman Suffrage in South Dakota,” 225.

The headline “Germany Quits” ran on the front page with “Women Win in Codington Co. by Large Vote”
Saturday News (Watertown SD), November 7, 1918.

Ruth Hipple to Pyle, November 7, 1918:
“It is almost too much to have suffrage and the end of the war come on the same day.  I feel more like crying than anything else.  The cars are flying about town with flags waving and horns tooting and all the children are yelling their heads off.  I have to go wipe my nose and eyes and thank God for it all every little while.”
RA11727, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD.

Pyle to Hipple, November 8, 1918:
“… but I am mighty glad that the war did not end too soon before the end of the campaign, as so much of our publicity stuff would have been valueless.  It is hard to believe that the goal is at last attained.  I have to pinch myself, to be sure that I am here and that I can vote when the time arrives.”
RA11754, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Mable Rewman to Pyle, November 7, 1918:
“I want to take this opportunity to thank you just for me for the wonderful perseverance and self sacrifice that you have shown, and to tell you that I shall always love you and be grateful to you for what you have done for the women of this state.”
RA11737, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD.

“Well it does look as if we are voters at last.”
Ghrist to Pyle, November 8, 1918, RA11744, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Lydia Johnson to Pyle, November 8, 1918:
“It seems glorious to have won!  The battle has been so long, the struggle soul-taxing, yet stimulating in awakening the dormant energies of women and arousing them to civic responsibility.”
RA11748, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Pyle to Johnson, November 8, 1918:
“Our long drawn out battle of many years has finally come to a close, in so far as woman’s rights in this state are concerned, but in reality, our task has but begun.  This victory brings to my mind’s vision, a galaxy of women who have for the last 25 years been sacrificing and laboring for this same thing that has now come to pass.  We have been including to look at the many delays of the past as defeats, but this is not the case.  While we chafe and fret at these delays, I suppose we ought to feel that they were needed for our development and to make us ready.  To those to whom we owe gratitude you will come in for your full share. It was much harder to work for suffrage while you were leader, than it is at the present time and I am sure that every one who is in any way in touch with the work realizes this.”
RA11755, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Telegram from Maria S. McMahon:
“delighted that victory has rewarded your unselfish devotion”
McMahon to Pyle, November 8, 1918, RA11749, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Pyle to Nina Pettigrew, November 9, 1918:
“You may go on celebrating now with all your might and it will have to be a good strong celebration, in order to recompense for all of the years of waiting.”
RA11779, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

McMahon from NAWSA Headquarters in New York City:
“Mrs. Catt had a little ceremony in the office where your message came, and I was given the honor of placing a star on South Dakota in her big national map.  It made me feel that I was really a part of you all.”
McMahon to Pyle, November 10, 1918, RA11781, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

Rose Young, Woman Citizen editor-in-chief, to Pyle, November 11, 1918:
“I suppose that you personally must be half dead with fatigue, but victory is a good rest medicine.”
RA11794, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 8-14, Pyle Papers USD.

The SDUFL closed the campaign $3,000-$4,000 in debt. The state board apportioned each county committee a certain amount to raise and contribute. Pyle also made written appeals to leading figures around the state, NAWSA provided additional funds, and a few prominent politicians contributed funds [Box 4, Correspondence, November-December 1918, Pyle Papers USD]. In one letter to Mr. U.G. Johnson of Redfield to appeal for funds, Pyle wrote that the UFL had “done the best we knew how, Mr. Johnson, with the responsibility that you men placed upon us when you gave us the task of Americanizing the South Dakota electorate”–a “double-headed campaign… [was] much more expensive.” [Pyle to Johnson, November 4, 1918, RA11668, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, November 1-7, Pyle Papers USD]. To save money, Pyle closed the headquarters office shortly after the election, let go of the hired stenographer, “and sold every thing I could get my hand on even to my much beloved electric mimeograph.” She set up a space in her home to serve as an office for remaining work [Pyle to Rewman, December 4, 1918, RA12016-RA12017, Box 4, Correspondence, 1918, December, Pyle Papers USD].

November 24: NAWSA held a victory celebration for Michigan, South Dakota, and Oklahoma at their headquarters at 1626 Rhode Island Avenue in Washington D.C., with talks by Anna Shaw, Nettie Shuler, and South Dakota’s Senator Sterling [Washington Herald (DC), November 22, 1918; New-York Tribune (NYC), November 24, 1918].

“Cupid and woman suffrage have apparently formed a corporation in Mitchell.  Miss Marie Gipper, 22 years, strode into the office of the clerk of courts of Davison county and planked down $1 on the desk to pay for the first marriage license that has ever been bought in this county by a woman.”
The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), December 6, 1918

“In 1918, a United States Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the pro-German activities of the United States Brewers’ Association revealed that several million dollars were taken annually from liquor accounts and spent to defeat suffrage referendums and prosuffrage politicians” [Easton, “Woman Suffrage in South Dakota,” 207].

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