A traveling exhibit exploring the history of women’s suffrage in Wyoming is making a stop in Laramie for the next couple months.
“Suffrage Wyoming,” which comes to Laramie from the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, is set to be on display through Oct. 31. The exhibit has been making stops at state parks and historic sites since March.
Site superintendent Deborah Cease said the exhibit, consisting of historic photographs, traces the history and impact of women’s suffrage in the state from 1869 through the 20th century. A computerized kiosk allows visitors to compare notable events on a timeline of Wyoming and national history.
One-hundred and fifty years ago, Wyoming Territory became the first place in the world to give women the right to vote and hold office. In September of 1870, Laramie’s Louisa Swain became the first woman to cast a ballot.
“This exhibit examines the major successes, the struggle for women in politics, their challenges and how they’ve overcome that,” Cease said.
The exhibit is located in the prison dining hall alongside an ongoing exhibit about May Preston Slosson, who became the first female prison chaplain in the United States in 1899. Slosson was also the first woman in the United States to earn a doctoral degree in philosophy, and she was active in the suffrage movement.
“She worked nationally for women’s right to vote and suffrage, and she talked around the world about that,” Cease said.
Accompanying the exhibits about Wyoming history is a display from the National Archives, called “Rightfully Hers,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote nationally.
“It’s a simple message exploring the history of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women’s voting rights before and after the 19th Amendment, and its impact today,” Cease said.
To complement the exhibits, the Wyoming Territorial Prison has prepared a free booklet for visitors, as long as supplies last, with more information about Laramie’s trailblazing women.
Cease said many exhibit visitors are surprised to learn how forward-thinking Wyoming residents were.
“We have a lot of people that have come through and have seen this exhibit, and they had no clue that that the women in Wyoming have contributed that much to Wyoming’s history and the nation’s history,” she said. “It’s been a really fun exhibit to surprise people with.”
The Wyoming Territorial Prison is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through Sept. 30. On Oct 1, the prison moves to its winter hours, when it’s open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. The prison is not offering guided tours this fall, and visitors are asked to wear a mask inside buildings.
The exhibit is scheduled to travel to Bear River State Park in Evanston for display through Dec. 31.