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 A Lynn M. Bennett Legacy

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  • History of Woman Suffrage in Nevada

    When the US became a nation, adult women did not posses individual political rights.
    Nearly seventy years passed before women sought an independent political voice at
    the first women’s rights conventions in Seneca Falls, New York. Afterward, rights
    conventions were held across the United States. The western states were the first to grant
    women the right to vote.

    The Nevada constitution, accepted in 1864, gave the right to vote only to white men.
    Curtis J. Hillyer, a representative from Storey County, introduced a bill in 1869 to allow
    women the vote. He argued that women possessed at least as much intelligence as men,
    they followed the same laws, paid the same taxes, and most importantly would introduce
    a new standard of public morality to the political process. Both houses of the Nevada
    legislature passed the amendment that year, but it failed to pass two years later during the
    constitutionally mandated second vote. Forty years passed before suffrage became an
    issue again in the state.

    Several women played instrumental roles in winning the vote for Nevada women.
    Nevada native Anne Martin played a decisive role in Nevada’s second suffrage
    campaign. A veteran of the fight for suffrage in Britain, she returned to Reno in 1911
    and led the Nevada Equal Franchise Society to a winning, county-by-county strategy
    to gain the vote. Bird Wilson, a lawyer practicing in Goldfield, oversaw the suffrage
    campaign in southern Nevada. She wrote, “Women Under Nevada Law,” a pamphlet
    that was sent around the state as suffrage material. No suffrage organization existed
    in Las Vegas until Delphine Squires, active in women’s social organizations and co-
    publisher of the Las Vegas Age, agreed to serve as the local contact to coordinate suffrage
    speakers. While Squires agreed that women should vote, she felt it should be achieved
    diplomatically and not in the more radical ways of Martin and Wilson. Despite her
    discomfort she played an integral part in bring woman suffrage to Nevada.

    On November 3, 1914, the general vote was taken to decide whether Nevada women
    would be allowed the vote. It took several days for the results to be tallied, but the
    amendment passed with the margin of victory coming from rural regions of the state.
    Women in Nevada voted for the first time in 1915 in local races and in statewide races in 1916.

    Women gained the right to vote nationally with the 19th Amendment to the constitution ratified in 1920.

    For more information on Nevada woman suffrage and Anne Martin see:
    Anne Howard, The Long Campaign: A Biography of Anne Martin (Nevada: University of
    Nevada Press, 1985).

  • Centennial Information

  • Did You Know?

    Brief facts highlighting the history of Nevada's women over the last century.

    … that Florence Murphy became the first woman to hold a pilot’s license in the state of Nevada when she received her commercial pilot’s license in 1944?

    … that the city of Las Vegas passed an ordinance in 1958 banning women as casino dealers that was not repealed until 1970?

    … that the women of Las Vegas came together to create the Mesquite Club in 1911 as a social club committed to improving the young city and worked to pass suffrage?

    read more »

  • Women's Research Institute of Nevada
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 455083
    Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5083

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