Utah commemorates the 125th anniversary of women’s first elections to public office

Utah women’s history non-profit Better Days will mark the 125th anniversary of the first Utah women’s  election to public office with a press conference hosted by Lt. Governor Deidre M. Henderson’s office. On  November 3, 1896, Utahns elected 14 women to public office across the new state, including Dr. Martha  Hughes Cannon as the nation’s first female state senator. In 2018, the Utah State Legislature voted to send a  statue of Dr. Cannon to represent Utah in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Completed in 2020 by  Utah sculptor Ben Hammond, her statue stands outside the Supreme Court chambers in the Utah State Capitol  until the U.S. Capitol Building reopens to the public and an installation ceremony can take place. 

Better Days will announce new, standards-aligned K-12 curriculum teaching students about Utah women’s  trailblazing history of civic engagement, as well as a traveling exhibit about Dr. Cannon and women’s  leadership in the early years of Utah statehood. These materials enhance students’ literacy and critical  thinking skills and encourage civic engagement. For more information, visit www.utahwomenshistory.org

Utah women citizens were the first in the United States to vote under an equal suffrage law, and their historic  votes in 1870 paved the way for expanding women’s voting rights across the nation. Although Congress  disenfranchised Utah women in 1887, thousands of suffragists organized to regain the vote with statehood.  When Utah became the 45th state on January 4, 1896, it became the 3rd state to extend full voting and  political rights to women citizens. Utah women ran for political office for the first time in 1896.  

“Martha Hughes Cannon and the other trailblazing women who served in public office during those early  years of statehood not only used their voices to improve their communities but also set a pattern of women’s  political engagement for the rest of the nation,” said Better Days Historical Director Rebekah Clark. “They  established a legacy of leadership that women in Utah continue to build on today.” 

WHEN Wednesday, November 3 from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM  

– introduction by Rebekah Clark, Better Days Historical Director  

– remarks by Jen Robison, Chief of Staff for Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre M. Henderson  and Member, The Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee 

– remarks by Representative Angela Romero, Utah State Legislature 

– remarks by Maya Mercer, Girl Scout Troop 914 

– remarks by Tiffany Greene, Better Days Education Director 

– song “Better Days” by Cherie Call 

WHERE Martha Hughes Cannon Statue outside the Supreme Court Chamber 

Utah State Capitol Building