05 July 2015

Women in Wyoming Equality State

A red-haired retiree (Liz) from Oregon greeted us when we began our guided tour of the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical Site. We learned Liz and her husband travel around the USA volunteering at various historical sites. When we met them at the end of June, they had been in Laramie, Wyoming only since May. Lucky for us, our guide's love of history made for an interesting tour of the facility and grounds.
Wyoming Territorial Prison

One of my favorite parts about our visit included learning about women in Wyoming, including these interesting facts shared with us by our guide as I asked her questions about women's rights in the state.
  •  In 1869 Women in Wyoming were granted the right to vote, and Eliza Swain of Laramie cast the first vote.
  • Nationwide the first female Justice of the Peace was in Wyoming.
  • Wyoming elected the first female governor in our country in 1924.
  • Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cody Stanton traveled to "the land of freedom" in 1871 via the Transcontinental Railroad.
While there were some female prisoners housed among infamous outlaws such as Butch Cassidy, the woman who captured my attention on our visit was May Preston Slosson, who was one of the few women granted the right to purse a PhD at Cornell University before the twentieth century. She served as Chaplain at the prison from 1899-1903. She was also an advocate of the women's suffrage movement.
Replica of wagon used to transport the prisoners

Slosson gave many speeches about her time as a female chaplain in Wyoming--The Equality State and proclaimed "a woman's rights to absolute equality with a man, in education, financial independence, social and political opportunities." She eventually moved to New York City with her husband and there remained a strong advocate for brining a better world for women, even marching in the 1917 Women's Suffrage Parade.
Slosson was a painter, poet, teacher, speaker, and advocate for women
Other reasons to appreciate Slosson include the facts that she was an artist and had a love of learning and knowledge.  She "cherished books, especially literature and poetry." She at one point taught at at Hastings College in Nebraska and believed that her one gift, one thing she could do--"I could sway an audience."

We spent only 24 hours of our vacation in Wyoming, but I must say it was an experience not to forget, with the massive amounts of open land and the history represented in Laramie. 
Wide open land in Wyoming
I'll leave you with a photo of a beautiful sunset from our one night in Wyoming and a quote from May Slosson "Literature has been the passion of my life, my chief recreation and a resource when in trouble. A long walk under the open sky is reading's only rival."

Sunset in Laramie, Wyoming