Ten Historic Female Firsts In The Equality State of Wyoming
150 years ago today, on December 10, 1869, legislators in the newly founded Wyoming Territory approved the first women's suffrage law in America. Voting rights were one of many historic milestones for women in what would later become the "Equality State".
In 1870, Esther Hobart Morris became the first female Justice of the Peace in South Pass City. Later that year, a Laramie woman, Martha Symons Atkinson, became the first female court bailiff.
Also in 1870, school teacher Elysa Stewart Boyd was called for jury duty. Five other women soon joined her as the first women in the world to serve on a trial jury. In 1873, Boyd was nominated for the Territorial Legislature but voluntarily removed her name from the ballot.
In 1910, Wyoming elected its first woman to public office when Albany County voters chose Mary G. Bellamy to represent them in the state legislature.
In 1920, Jackson became the first town in America to have an all-female government, electing women to serve as Mayor, Marshall, and Town Council.
In 1925, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, when Nellie Tayloe Ross was chosen to replace her late husband William Ross. Ross later became the first female director of the United States Mint.
In 1962, Thyra Godfrey Thomson became the first woman elected as Wyoming Secretary of State. The voters re-elected her six times and her 24-year tenure still ranks as the longest of any Secretary of State.
In 1980, Harriet Elizabeth Byrd became the first African-American elected to the Wyoming Legislature and served for over a decade in both the House and Senate. Byrd also helped establish a state holiday in recognition of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1981, Casper native Anne Gorsuch Buford was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She later served on the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere and is the mother of United States Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
In 1994, Barbara Cubin became the first Wyoming woman elected to serve in the United States House of Representatives and later became a member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors.