Neylan McBaine, until just recently, served as both founder and CEO of Better Days 2020, a Utah non-profit organization, created with the intent of popularizing women’s history through education, legislation, events and the arts. Neylan has become a leader in speaking and writing about women’s leadership and the U.S. Suffrage Movement, with a specific focus on Utah and the West, and the early role that the Western states played in the national movement.
In today's podcast we’ll be discussing Neylan’s book titled Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of Suffragists in Utah and the West published in 2020 by Shadow Mountain, an imprint of the Deseret Book Company. The intent of the Shadow Mountain is to publish works that speak to a national audience. Neylan's book is compelling, a work of history with the aid of historically based fictional arch that follows through the entire book, which makes real historical figures, events and circumstances more understandable.
Neylan’s work is “a shot across the bows,” with the intent of urging historians and thought leaders to consider a glaring omission in the story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which is the vital story from the interior West, most particularly from Utah. I think another audience for this book is everyday Utahns that want to understand women’s history in Utah.
2020 was the 100th anniversary of a majority of US states that ratified the 19th Amendment, which extended to “most” US female citizens, not to people of color, not to Native Americans, but to white women, the right to vote. Women of color, Native Americans, all had to wait, in some cases in the 1960s to vote without legal roadblocks and harassment As you can see the story of full franchising of all Americans, is a complex story. And this story in Utah has every more layers of confusion and conflict.
2020 also marked the 150th anniversary of the Utah Territory legislature’s bill giving women 21 years or older the right to vote. Utah’s northern territorial neighbor Wyoming, passed the right to vote, as well the right to hold public office, some months before Utah. However two days after Utah’s bill was passed, Seraph Young, a grandniece of Brigham Young, cast her ballot in a Salt Lake City municipal election, becoming the first woman in the country to vote under an equal suffrage law. This story is just the tip of the iceberg where Utah and women from surrounding states made vital contributions not only to their local efforts but also national efforts. If you would like to buy a copy of Neylan’s book Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of the Suffragists in Utah and the West, we will put this information on our show notes.