Determined to Rise
The West Came First: Western Expansion and Regional Differences
in the Women’s Suffrage Movement
By 1920, when Congress passed the 19th Amendment granting women full voting rights in the United States, 13 of 16 western states had already granted women full suffrage. In 1869,Wyoming, then still a territory, was the first state to grant suffrage to women. By contrast, outside the West, suffragists were able to win the right to vote prior to the federal amendment in only two states – New York in 1917 and Michigan in 1918. Join our panelists for a conversation as we delve into this regional pattern in the expansion of women’s political rights, and try to answer the question of why western states were more likely than states in the East or South to grant woman suffrage prior to the federal amendment.
Select an individual on the flyer to read their bio!
Virginia Caruso, Ph.D.
Virginia Caruso, Ph.D., is a retired professor of 34 years, and her dissertation from Michigan State University titled “A History of Woman’s Suffrage in Michigan” is still one of the most detailed accounts of the woman suffrage movement in Michigan. Among her many accolades, she has served on the Board of Trustees for the Historical Society of Michigan for many years and has served as the chair or moderator for several different panels including the Great Lakes History Conference panel.
Lori Ann Lahlum, Ph.D.
A native of North Dakota, Lori Ann Lahlum, Ph.D., teaches courses on the American West, environmental history, Minnesota history, and specialized courses on northern grasslands history. Dr. Lahlum’s research is focused on woman suffrage, life in Norwegian America, including cross dressing, pregnancy, the history of Norwegian immigrant women, landscape, and agriculture in the northern prairies and plains, and the Scandinavian Republican League. Professor Lahlum also chairs the Northern Great Plains History Conference Council and is actively involved in the Western History Association, the Coalition for Western Women’s History, and the North Dakota Suffrage Centennial Committee. She enjoys speaking to Norwegian heritage groups and local organizations in the northern grasslands.
Molly P. Rozum, Ph.D.
Molly P. Rozum, Ph.D., is the co-editor (with Lori Ann Lahlum) of Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains, published by South Dakota Historical Society Press (2019). The volume includes her article, “Citizenship, Civilization, and Property: The 1890 South Dakota Vote on Woman Suffrage and Indian Suffrages”. Rozum is Associate Professor and Ronald R. Nelson Chair of Great Plains and South Dakota History at The University of South Dakota, Vermillion and teaches the histories of South Dakota, the Great Plains, the American West, and Modern Women’s History. Rozum grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota.
Valerie R. Marvin
Valerie R. Marvin is the Michigan Capitol Historian and the President of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, where she received a Master's Degree in Historic Preservation.