Utah helped lead the nation in advocating for women’s rights.
It’s time to tell our story. The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of women first voting in Utah and the modern nation. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women’s suffrage throughout the United States, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, protecting voting rights of women and men of racial minorities.
Better Days 2020 believes that by popularizing our history in creative and communal ways, we can challenge Utahans to live up to this great legacy of women's advocacy.
Here’s how we’re going to do it.
Public School Curriculum Module
Better Days 2020 has developed curriculum devoted to introducing K-12 students to Utah's role in women's voting rights from 1870 to the present day, specifically focusing on grades 4 and 7 (Utah Studies) and grades 5 and 11 (U.S. History). This curriculum, tied to the Utah Core State Standards, includes English language arts connections, adaptations for diverse learners, support for home schooling students, and will focus on developing students' historical literacy and critical thinking skills. Classroom materials and online resources will be available for educators and students to access for free via our website. In partnership with the Tanner Humanities Center, we offer a series of educator workshops focused on Utah’s role in obtaining voting rights for all women.
Downtown Salt Lake City Digital Experience
Better Days 2020 will create a digital experience that tours downtown Salt Lake City, featuring sites and leaders key to the women’s rights movement in Utah and the nation. The experience will be accessible to Utah residents, tourists, and college students, along with younger students through field trips and virtual reality tours. The tour will help visitors realize that women were strong civic leaders and activists in Utah history, playing a major role in ensuring women’s suffrage and rights both in Utah and the nation.
Curriculum Training Sessions
In cooperation with the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center, we will host three teacher-training sessions: one in Summer 2018 for Utah teachers, and two in Summer 2019 which will include teachers from across the nation. The one-week sessions will take place on the U of U campus and will focus on bringing to life the newly developed curriculum. We will invite subject experts to present
Trading Cards & Posters
Better Days 2020 has commissioned Utah illustrator Brooke Smart to create portraits of thirty to forty of Utah’s key women’s rights leaders from 1870 through the twentieth century. The illustrations will compose a set of 4” x 6” trading cards with thumbnail photos and biographies of these leaders on the back of each card. The sets will be distributed to classrooms, along with poster-sized images of some of the cards for classroom display. Additional uses of the images, such as bookmarks, postcards, tote bags, exhibits, will also be considered.
Utah Suffrage Songbook
A historic 1892 Utah Women’s Suffrage Songbook contains lyrics written and sung by Utah women as they worked toward equality. Some of these songs were written to be sung with historic tunes such as “Columbia,” but others list no tunes. We will commission six song writers to set six of these poems to new music.
Dramatic Film about Emmeline B. Wells and Susan B. Anthony
It was an unlikely friendship: Emmeline B. Wells, the sixth polygamous wife of Salt Lake City’s mayor, and the nationally renowned powerhouse behind the women’s rights movement, Susan B. Anthony. Wells edited the longest-running woman’s rights newspaper in the country, the Woman’s Exponent, and Anthony defended Wells and other polygamous suffragists’ right to participate in the suffrage movement in spite of her condemnation of polygamy. Their mutual admiration brought Anthony to bequeath one of her gold rings to Wells on her deathbed.
Better Days 2020 is laying the foundation for a feature-length dramatic (not documentary) film about these women.
Martha Hughes Cannon Statue for U.S. Capitol Bldg.
During the 2018 legislative session, Utah Senator Todd Weiler proposed a bill to place a statue of Martha Hughes Cannon (the first female state senator in the nation and in Utah), as one of Utah’s two representative statues in the U.S. Capitol Building. The resolution passed the legislature. Since no taxpayer funds will be used, Better Days 2020 will help raise donations to commission a Utah sculptor to create the statue, and to ship and place the statue in the Capitol rotunda in the year 2020.
“First to Vote” License Plate Template
During the 2018 legislative session, a "First to Vote" Special Group License Plate was approved by the legislature. The "First to Vote" plate will be rolled out to all Utah DMVs by October 2018. Finalists are currently being evaluated and a design decision will be announced June 30, 2018.
Working with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and other city and county officials, we will propose that a major street in Salt Lake City be named after Emmeline B. Wells. This process could be extended to other cities in the state, either featuring Wells or other Utah suffragists such as Martha Hughes Cannon or Sarah M. Kimball.
Vision 2020 National Congress
Vision 2020 is a national coalition of individuals and organizations in all 50 states working together for women's economic, political and social equality in the United States. The Vision 2020 initiative was founded by Drexel University's Institute for Women's Health and Leadership in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Better Days 2020 is working with Vision 2020 to host the September 2019 National Congress in Salt Lake City, celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment with delegates from around the country. The National Congress will offer activities and events that unite the two sides of the country and illuminate the West’s role in women’s rights advocacy.
Voter Turnout Study
Utah currently has the lowest female voter turnout in the nation. But it hasn’t always been this way: in the 1996 election, we had the highest participation. Better Days 2020 aims to increasing Utah women’s civic engagement. In cooperation with three professors from the Political Science Department at Brigham Young University – Quin Monson, Jessica Preece and Christopher Karpowitz – we will be crafting a study to look at the impact of the Better Days 2020 campaign on female voter turnout in the November 2020 elections.
Public Education Campaign
From the end of 2019 through February 2020, and again from July 2020 through August 2020, our public awareness campaign will be present throughout the state in out-of-home media (i.e. transit and public spaces), print (i.e. newspapers, magazines), digital (i.e. websites) and television.
Using earned and donated media through our media partner, Deseret News/KSL, we will canvas the state with a celebration of the February 1870 anniversary (150th anniversary of first women’s vote in Utah) and the August 1920 anniversary (100th anniversary of 19th Amendment).
Better Days 2020 is meeting with organizations throughout the state to tell them about our trailblazing women’s history and encourage them to commemorate the 2020 anniversaries in their own way. We look forward to cities, counties, arts organizations and non-profits of every kind reclaiming Utah’s legacy of women’s leadership and civic engagement.