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Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment in Salt Lake: Suffrage Events & Exhibits

Places to visit and things to do to celebrate Utah and the nation's suffrage anniversaries in 2020

Editor's Note: Events and exhibits listed may change as cities and galleries respond to public health guidelines. Please call to confirm access is open.

In summer 2020, the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, the passage of which forbade gender-based voting discrimination in the United States. In Utah, 2020 marks another important anniversary — 150 years since the first woman to vote in the country cast her ballot in Salt Lake City. 

This vote was cast by a 23 year-old school teacher named Seraph Young on February 14, 1870 in the Council Hall building, which now sits across from the Utah State Capitol and features a First to Vote exhibit and tourism gift shop. 

This sandstone building isn’t the only standing suffrage site in Salt Lake City. National suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke at the tabernacle on Temple Square. From state and city buildings to the still-standing homes of local women’s rights activists, many Salt Lake City locations call visitors to consider this area’s rich women’s history. 

According to Better Days 2020, a Salt Lake City-based group working to popularize women’s history in the state, Salt Lake City has more standing suffrage sites than Seneca Falls, New York — home of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. 

Beyond historical sites to visit, exhibits, performances and community events have been planned to celebrate these important voting rights anniversaries. Here are suggestions of places to visit and things to do if you want to learn more about women’s history in the state, and add a touch of women’s history to your Utah vacation.

Suffragists gathered in white clothes outside the Hotel Utah

Members of the executive committee of the national suffragists’ convention and prominent local women supporting national political freedom for woman, snapped with Senator Reed Smoot outside the Hotel Utah, to whom they had just appealed for support of their movement in the next Congress. Image courtesy of National Women's Party

Ongoing Events & Exhibits

Utah Women’s History Walking Tour
Downtown Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has more standing suffrage sites than Seneca Falls, New York. Visit utahwomenshistory.org to find a map and information about the sites. Start your walk at Council Hall where there is an exhibit, free parking and a print-out of the walking tour map.

“Utah Women Working for the Vote and Beyond” 
January 15 - December 15, 2020
Utah Capitol Building, 350 St. Street, Salt Lake City, Fourth Floor Gallery

This exhibit by Better Days 2020 and the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts features Brooke Smart's illustrations of 50 Utah women's advocates as well as objects that tell the history of women's voting rights in Utah. The capitol building is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“First Vote” 
Council Hall, 300 N. State Street, Salt Lake City

At the location where the first Utah woman cast her ballot, you'll see a quilted memorial to leading suffragists and can cast your own symbolic vote. Council Hall is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sisters for Suffrage: How Utah Women Won the Vote” 
November 2019 - January 2021
LDS Church History Museum, 45 N. West Temple, Salt Lake City

This exhibit highlights the pioneering role of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the local and national suffrage movements, with historical artifacts, interactive kiosks, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. 

Sandstone building with bell tower

The Council Hall building where the Utah Territorial Legislature voted unanimously to extend voting rights to women. 

Pioneer Memorial Museum 
300 N. Main Street, Salt Lake City

This museum features displays regarding early Utah women including a case of suffrage artifacts. Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Utah Women Working for Better Days!”
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City

This exhibit is a collaboration between the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Better Days 2020 and drawing materials from the J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections. The exhibit is less of a history lesson than it is a provocation; “What do better days look like to you?” The exhibit proposes that political action is but one avenue of change and that civil participation, much like art making, requires an act of creativity. 

Visitors are able to express their visions for the future and help create a fuller picture of the true diversity of experiences that have shaped Utah through interactive components. 

Matilyn Mortensen

Matilyn Mortensen grew up on the Wasatch Front and moved to Cache Valley for college. She graduated with a degree in journalism and communication from Utah State University and now works as the news director at Utah Public Radio. In her free time, she paints, reads and cross stitches.

I am Listening for the language of women.

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