Unveiling our First Utah Women's Advocates Illustration


Better Days 2020 unveils its first of 30 illustrations by Brooke Smart, in time for #GivingTuesday donations.

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As part of the development of its educational curriculum for 4th and 7th grade Utah Studies, Better Days 2020 has commission artist Brooke Smart to illustrate 30 key figures in Utah women's history, including men who have been key to our history and women in our own time. The first of these illustration subjects, suffragist Emmeline B. Wells, is unveiled today.

Wells' illustration has been approached with utmost historical accuracy. Smart depicts Wells surrounded by wheat, representing Wells' leadership over the wheat-saving program as she was commissioned by Brigham Young. The capstone to the program came during World War I, when under Wells' guidance, the U.S. government was sold more than 200,000 bushels of wheat.. After the war, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and his wife personally visited Wells to express appreciation for turning over the stored grain to the nation during its hour of need. Wilson was the fourth U.S. president Wells met in her lifetime. 

Wells was also, of course, the long-time editor of the Woman's Exponent, the longest running suffrage newspaper in the United States. She is depicted here with her pen, with which she also wrote 46 volumes of journals which provide a treasured look into her incredible life and times. 

Behind Wells is a view of Salt Lake City, Utah, as it appeared when women first voted in the Council Hall (seen under her chin), where on February 14, 1870, twenty-one women voted for the first time in the modern nation. While we do not know for sure if Wells voted that day (her journal from that period is lost), she rose to become the leading activist for Utah women's rights and a leader on the national scene as well. On her deathbed, national activist Susan B. Anthony bequeathed Wells her gold ring in recognition of their 30+ year friendship and joint service.

Wells is also depicted in profile, the stance she always chose for portraits and photographs. Barely five feet tall and 100 pounds, Wells wore amethyst earrings and rings, all depicted here. Her hairstyle is taken directly from a photo of Wells. 

Between now and #GivingTuesday, anyone who makes a donation of $20+ to Better Days 2020 will receive notecards or a poster or a signed print of this remarkable illustration. Please donate today, and look for our other illustrations to be announced in the future.


Neylan Mcbaine