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 suffrage, specifically focusing on grades 4 and 7 (Utah Studies) and grades 5 and 8 (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 are available for educators and students to access for free via our website. In partnership with the Tanner Humanities Center, we also offer a series of educator workshops focused on Utah’s role in the suffrage movement. The curriculum is publicly available at www.utahwomenshistory.com.
Downtown Salt Lake City Digital Experience
Better Days 2020 will create a digital augmented reality experience, introducing students, families and interested adults to the Salt Lake City locations and leaders key to the women’s rights movement in Utah and the nation. Starting at the Council Hall building, where the first female vote occurred, the gamified experience will challenge students to collect digital tokens that teach them about significant places and people, and reward them when they’ve found them all. An animated version of the game will be made available for those unable to come to Salt Lake City. The tour would 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 are hosting 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. In June 2018, four professors, including Pulitzer-Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, presented to 30 teachers to great acclaim.
Included in our educational curriculum website will be content developed specifically for each of Utah’s 29 counties. With the help of the Utah Association of Counties and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, we are uncovering primary source materials and writing brief histories of women’s suffrage in each county. These materials will act as county-specific supplements to the broader educational curriculum, and will allow local officials to celebrate the accomplishments of their own communities.
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. Thanks to a partnership with publisher Gibbs Smith, the sets will be distributed to 3,000 classrooms in Fall 2018. Prints of the illustrations along with other classroom resources are available at our Better Days 2020 store.
Key Anniversary Celebrations
On key anniversary dates in 2020 (such as Women’s Equality Day on August 26th) we hope to create events that foster communal celebration. The public festivals will celebrate the significant work of Utah’s suffragists and other women’s advocates from 1870 through today.
Dramatic Film about Emmeline B. Wells
Emmeline B. Wells' life epitomized the transition many Western pioneer women faced in the late 19th Century: how to make a life in a rough desert land while finding love and finding herself.
Better Days 2020 has laid the foundation for a feature-length dramatic (not documentary) film about these women. With a screenplay by Jacey Heldrich, we are currently attracting funding and a production team.
Better Days 2020 has partnered with external publishers to write about Utah women’s history for young and adult audiences. Books will include coffee table books, children's books, baby books, and adult narratives.
Martha Hughes Cannon Statue for U.S. Capitol Building
In the February 2018 session of the Utah Legislature, 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 bill passed. Since no taxpayer funds will be used, a Better Days 2020 representative will be serving on the committee steered by Senator Deidre Henderson and Representative Becky Edwards 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
Working with State Senator Deidre Henderson, Better Days 2020 proposed a Utah license plate template that commemorates Utah women being the first to vote in the modern nation. The successful legislation opened the door to the new license plate to be available in DMVs in October 2018.
Working with local Girl Scout troops around the state, we will shepherd the process of renamingstreets after local women’s advocacy heroes.
In keeping with our mission of “popularizing Utah women’s history,” we will host a monthly event series, open to the public or to targeted audiences. The series is launching in July 2018 with speaker Dr. Valerie Hudson, expert in the global security of women and the George H.W. Bush Chair of Political Science at Texas A&M University, and in the future will feature other local and national experts on Utah history, women’s history, art and culture. A September 2018 event will be a large informational fair at This is the Place Heritage Park for mothers and daughters.
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.