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Tools for Educators

Analyzing Opinions For and Against Women’s Suffrage in Utah, 1870-1896

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will analyze primary source excerpts from various viewpoints. Students will use these sources to interpret why most Utah women’s voting rights were granted, rescinded, and returned between 1870 and the achievement of statehood in 1896. Proceeding this document analysis, students will participate in a voting simulation activity to consider the effects of franchisement, disfranchisement, and re-enfranchisement, and the role suffrage played in Utah’s quest for statehood.

Recommended Instructional Time: 1-2 Class Periods
Emmeline B. Wells and Angie F. Newman

Historical Background for Educators

Key Utah State Standards Addressed

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain the arguments for various viewpoints on women’s suffrage in Utah.
  • Students will be able to use primary-source excerpts to write a persuasive argument.

Guiding Questions

  • What roles did polygamy and suffrage play in Utah’s struggle for statehood?
  • What reasons did individuals and groups have for supporting or opposing women’s suffrage in Utah? How and why did these attitudes and reasons change over time?
  • How did people of this time period try to influence voters and politicians to support or oppose women’s suffrage?
  • What role did ethnicity play in the women’s suffrage movement?
  • How can I influence my legislators’ support or opposition for legislation and causes?



(noun) To take away someone’s right to vote

The Edmunds-Tucker Act caused the disfranchisement of Utah women.


(noun) To give someone the right to vote

Emmeline B. Wells was a Utah leader involved in the enfranchisement of women.


(noun) (in this context) individuals who were not Mormon

The Transcontinental Railroad brought many Gentiles to Utah.


(adjective) evil or immoral

Anti-polygamists believed that polygamy was very nefarious and worked to get rid of it.


(verb) to make it so something has no legal power

The law was nullified by the court, so people no longer had to obey it.


(noun) A marriage system in which a person is married to more than one person at a time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy, in which some husbands had more than one living wife.


(noun) The right to vote in a political election

During the women’s suffrage movement, women fought for and won the right to vote in political elections.


(noun) to publicly state that someone or something is wrong or bad

Susan B. Anthony denounced legislation that took away Utah women’s voting rights.


(verb) to officially accept or allow something

The LDS Church sanctioned women’s suffrage, supporting efforts made by women to win back their voting rights.


(adjective) providing a quick and easy way to solve a problem

Anti-polygamists believed that granting Utah women voting rights was expedient to ending polygamy.


(verb) to agree

Most delegates at the Utah State Constitutional Convention concurred that women’s suffrage be included in the proposed constitution.



to give back someone’s right to vote

“Re” = to do again

The re-enfranchisement of Utah women occurred when Utah attained statehood.


(n) the right to vote

The 19th Amendment granted the franchise to women.

(v) to give the right to vote

The 19th Amendment franchised women.



Materials Needed





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