Celebrating Utah’s Significant Role in the Women’s Suffrage Movement

October marks the 100th anniversary of Utah ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. To commemorate this anniversary, an original copy of Senate Joint Resolution No. 1 (SJR 1) will be on display at the Utah State Capitol during the interim week on Tuesday, October 15 and Wednesday, October 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Utah was the first suffrage state to ratify the 19th Amendment,” said Senator Deidre Henderson, co-chair of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee. “It is important to remember the people who fought to include women’s voting rights in the U.S. Constitution. We all benefit from their efforts and sacrifice. My hope is that we express our appreciation to them by prizing the gift of political freedom they have given us.”

Four Utah women legislators led the 19th Amendment ratification efforts during a special session of the state Legislature – Sen. Elizabeth Hayward, sponsor of SJR 1, and Reps. Delora Blakely, Dr. Grace Stratton Airey and Anna T. Piercey, who presided over the House during the ratification vote.

“We are reminded that Utah women have been leading out on issues like suffrage and equal rights since the earliest days of our state,” said Rep. Karen Kwan, co-chair of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee. “These women leaders showed tremendous courage and foresight in challenging the social norms of their time. They inspire us to continue reaching for yet more opportunities and accomplishments for Utah women in our own time.”

Senate President J.W. Funk and Speaker of the House John E. Heppler signed the resolution. Then, Governor Simon Bamberger signed SJR 1 on October 3, 1919, officially making Utah the 17th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

In part, the joint resolution states, “The State of Utah has always favored equal suffrage, and many of its citizens, both men and women, through personal efforts, and untiring energy, have labored for the adoption of the suffrage amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Next year, our nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. Utah will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes and recognize the national anniversaries by sending a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, first woman elected to a state Senate in the country, to our United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. to represent our state.

Sen. Henderson and Rep. Kwan encourage Utahns to join us in celebrating this monumental anniversary by visiting the State Senate this week.

On Wednesday, October 16 at 4:00 p.m., Sen. Henderson and Rep. Kwan will recognize members of the Hayward and Bamberger family on the Senate floor during Advice and Consent.