Breakin’ Through: Wyoming’s Trailblazing Path to Suffrage

In the history of women’s rights, the Equality State has many firsts to its name. In 1869, Wyoming became the first U.S. territory to grant women the right to vote. In 1870, it was home to the first female judicial officer, first female bailiff, and first female jurors. In 1890, upon being admitted as the forty-fourth state in the Union, Wyoming became the first state with women’s suffrage. When Wyoming elected Nellie Tayloe Ross as its governor in 1924, it was the first time a woman held that office in our nation’s history. Yet, in 1869, when the first of these glass ceilings was shattered, Wyoming was a land of boomtowns, miners, saloons, and brothels, where almost 80 percent of the population was male. This begs the questions of how and why this frontier bastion of masculinity became an early pioneer in advancing the cause of women’s rights.

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