Women’s Suffrage

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides men and women with equal voting rights. The amendment states that the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

In Montana, women had won this right in 1914 and immediately elected a great suffragette Jeanette Rankin.  For as many women in Butte who were for the passage of the 19th amendment, there was a significant number against the effort as were many men.  The vote for suffrage failed in Silver Bow County by 34 votes.

Even though the votes failed, the citizens of Butte elected many women to office during the campaign for suffrage. Three Butte women were elected to public office in Silver Bow County during the election of November 6, 1918.  It was the first time in the history of Butte that three women had held county office, although for twenty years, the county superintendent of schools had been a woman.  Nellie Sullivan was elected county auditor, Madge Brogan Dugan, public administrator, and Nellie Small, county superintendent of schools. Many residents gave credit for the success of the women candidates to the passage of women’s suffrage in Montana in 1914, six years ahead of the rest of the nation.

The following letter was written on stationery from the Thornton Hotel. In this letter, Jeanette Rankin references her Suffrage campaign and her desire to have an event at the Columbia Gardens.

rankin letter

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