The Beginning of a Movement

July 28, 2020

Posted In: Elevate Magazine

It’s election day in Huron, South Dakota. But Mamie Shields Pyle is not welcome to cast her ballot. In Faulkton, Alice Pickler isn’t either. It’s the late 1800s and no woman in South Dakota can vote. 

Pyle and Pickler will become two of South Dakota’s leading social reformers — suffragists traveling the state, leading organizations, and working to give women a voice by earning the right to vote. 

They will successfully get a suffrage amendment on the 1890, 1898, 1910, 1914 and 1916 ballots. But voters won’t say yes until 1918, when they pass a state constitutional amendment requiring you only be a U.S. citizen, not a male, to vote in South Dakota. 

A year later, South Dakota will become one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, which will take effect on August 26, 1920. 

It’s been 100 Years. But We’re Still Fighting. 

This year we celebrate the Women’s Vote Centennial by honoring those who paved the way.

But if it weren’t for the preservation in the state archives of the records of women like Alice Pickler, we’d have almost no idea of the lasting impact of these remarkable women.
With each passing generation, we’re at risk of losing these vital stories. Without artifacts, preservation and correct archiving, future generations may not fully understand what our foremothers overcame to give us the freedoms we have today. Forgetting these stories is like losing our voices. 

Governor Kristi Noem appointed a nonpartisan Women's Vote Centennial Delegation called Her Vote. Her Voice (HVHV). With the SD Historical Society Foundation, HVHV is bringing together hundreds of statewide volunteers to raise funds, preserve and archive women's history. Another effort, the Statewide Honor Wall, is working to raise the significance of women's achievements both 100 years ago and today. Everyone is invited to submit the name and story of woman who has made an impact. You can learn more at HerVoteHerVoice.org.

One hundred years and one day after South Dakota extended women the right to vote, it elected its first female Governor. Women’s history is still being written. Help us collect, archive and celebrate it in meaningful ways!  Her Vote. Her Voice. is a project of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation in recognition of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.