Did you know that women’s suffrage was originally granted to the Utah Territory in 1870, but it was revoked by the U.S. government in 1887 in attempt to eliminate polygamy? Utah women had to fight to regain this right, which was granted in 1895 when the Utah Territory became a state—Utah’s State Constitution was written to include women’s right to vote and run for office 25 years before the 19th Amendment was passed.
While women both in and out of the Church were involved in the Utah women’s suffrage movement, here is a look into the lives of several women of the Church who stood up and spoke out for women’s rights. These sisters led influential lives of faith and showed the world that Latter-day Saint women are women of strength, determination, and independence.
Ruth May Fox (1853-1958)
Image from MormonWiki
Conversion: Ruth May Fox’s parents joined the Church in Wiltshire, England when she was 5 months old. As a young girl, she made the trek to Utah with her family, where they settled in the Ogden area.
Marriage: Ruth married Jesse W. Fox Jr. when she was 19.They had 12 children.
Church Service: Ruth served for over 30 years in the presidency of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, which is equivalent to the Young Women program we have today. She was 75 years old when she accepted the call to serve as general president of the organization in 1925. Ruth is also known for penning the words to the invigorating hymn, “Carry On.”
Influence on Women’s Rights: Before her marriage, Ruth worked on a mill with her father in Ogden. Though she was working equipment that was intended to be run by men, she was paid less, which bothered her. “I should have had a man’s wages for this,” she said. “[My] father thought his partner would object since I was a girl. . . . I was given only $10 a week; but that was very good [wages] for a girl at the time” (Linda Thatcher, “‘I Care Nothing for Politics’: Ruth May Fox, Forgotten Suffragist,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 49, no. 3, 240).
Ruth became actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement and helped to draft the suffrage memorial that was presented and ratified at the 1895 state constitutional convention. She served as treasurer for the Utah Women Suffrage Association. As a writer and poet, she also led the Utah Women’s Press Club and Reaper’s Club, which promoted literary pursuits and opportunities for women.