Minnesota Woman Suffrage Memorial, Cedar Avenue at Martin Luther King Boulevard, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Minnesota Woman Suffrage Memorial

Minnesota Woman Suffrage Memorial
Address: Cedar Street
Location of Structure: Located on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall at Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota, Minnesota
Ramsey County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1999
Historic Function: Statue/Monument
Part of the Site: {{{site_name}}}

Saint Paul, Minnesota Ramsey

On Women’s equality day, August 26, 2000, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Memorial is dedicated at the state capitol. The memorial is planted with native grasses and flowers and features a 100 foot trellis imprinted with the names of important suffrage leaders in the state’s history. Architects Ralph Nelson, Raveevarn Choksombatchai and Martha McQuade collaborated on the winning design, a combination of gardens of native prairie and woodland plants, separated by a steel trellis displaying names of 25 Minnesota women who led the fight for voting rights.

Harriet Bishop (1818-83): This schoolteacher was a charter member of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association in 1881.

Mary Jackman Colburn (1811-1901): Fought at the Minnesota Legislature for woman suffrage. In 1869, she organized one of the first local suffrage societies in Minnesota in Champlin.

Jane Grey Swisshelm (1815-84): A St. Cloud newspaper editor, Swisshelm regularly voiced her opinions about abolition, woman's rights and suffrage in the various newspapers throughout her life.

Sarah Burger Stearns (1836-1904): Stearns started the first woman suffrage society in her home in Rochester in 1869; she was elected as the first president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association in 1881.

Martha Rogers Ripley (1843-1912): An active suffragist and a doctor who fought for the health needs of women, she brought the national convention of the American Woman Suffrage Association to Minneapolis in 1885.

Julia Bullard Nelson (1842-1914): During her six-year presidency of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, Nelson petitioned every legislative session for the right to vote.

Gratia Countryman (1866-1953): A librarian, Countryman's vision for a democratic society demanded both universal suffrage and an educated electorate. Her extraordinary self-confidence, combined with a winning personality, won over many opponents.

Emily Gilman Noyes (1854-1930): Noyes was Ramsey County's suffrage leader in the early years of the 20th century. In 1915, when legislative hearings on a bill for woman suffrage drew overflow crowds to the State Capitol, she addressed the Senate committee on behalf of the measure.

Ethel Edgerton Hurd (1845-1929): Hurd's greatest involvement was with the Political Equality Club of Minneapolis, which participated in many suffragist activities, such as distribution of literature, lobbying legislators and organizing parades and petition drives.

Maud Conkey Stockwell (1863-1958): In 1910, Stockwell took a petition for woman suffrage (with 20,500 signatures) to the U.S. Congress.

Maria Sanford (1836-1920): A charismatic public speaker and University of Minnesota professor, Sanford was 76 when she first spoke out for woman suffrage, at a speech in San Francisco in 1912.

Nanny Mattson Jaeger (1859-1938): President of the Minnesota Scandinavian Woman Suffrage Association.

Josephine Sarles Simpson (1862-1948): One of the chief orators for the suffrage movement. In 1916, Simpson traveled by steamboat down the Mississippi River with a contingent of Minnesota suffragists to speak outside the Democratic convention in St. Louis.

Fanny Fligelman Brin (1884-1961): As a young high school teacher, Brin was active in the suffrage movement. She believed that women's long dependence had given them a sense of inferiority, but was confident that education would dispel that lack of self-esteem.

Josephine Schain (1886-1972): In 1914, Schain served as marshal of a large suffrage parade through the streets of Minneapolis. She moved to New York in 1915 as a close associate of national suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt.

Sarah Tarleton Colvin (1865-1949): When the U.S. Senate rejected woman suffrage in 1918, Colvin, a Minnesota member of a more radical organization of suffragists, went to Washington to picket. She was arrested and spent time in jail, which would not be the first time she was jailed for her actions on behalf of suffrage.

Clara Hampson Ueland (1860-1927): Ueland led the effort for suffrage in its final years and attended the special session of the Minnesota Legislature in 1919, when it ratified the 19th Amendment. ``It is my happiest day, she said at the time.

Nellie Griswold Francis (1874-1969): In 1914, 25 African-American women held the charter meeting of the Everywoman SuffrageClub, electing Francis as its first president. She held the post until well after the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, at which time the club evolved into the Everywoman Progressive Council. Francis' life represents the widely neglected role of African-American women in promoting equality in the early 20th century.

Elizabeth Hunt Harrison (1848-1931): Harrison was vice president of the Equal Suffrage Association of Minneapolis (later the Hennepin County Woman Suffrage Association) from its formation in 1914 until 1919, when the Minnesota League of Women Voters was formed.

Anna Dickie Olesen (1885-1971): In 1922, Olesen ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, the first Minnesota woman to run for national office.

Bertha Berglin Moller (1888-unknown): To dramatize the political struggle for the 19th Amendment, Moller staged suffrage ballets in theaters throughout the region. In 1918 and 1919, Moller joined the marches and picketing by suffragists in Washington, D.C., and was jailed several times.

Marguerite Milton Wells (1872-1959): Wells organized the petition drive for the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association that succeeded in generating unanimous support from the Minnesota congressional delegation for the passage of the 19th Amendment. She also directed the drive for the amendment's ratification, and Minnesota became the 15th state to do so.

Alice Ames Winter (1865-1944): Believing that women should take an active role in the world, Winter provided a good example after women got the vote by serving as president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, serving on national committees on disarmament and film, and writing innumerable articles on education, support for mothers and women's citizenship rights.

Mabeth Hurd Paige (1870-1961): Page was a Minnesota suffrage leader and social reformer who also served as a Minnesota legislator for 22 years, first elected in 1922 as a Republican representing the Kenwood area of Minneapolis.

Myrtle Cain (1894-1980): In 1922, Cain was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives as one of the first generation of women legislators. When she introduced an equal rights bill, it was adamantly opposed. In the 1960s, she lent her experience and support to feminists working for the Equal Rights Amendment.

"In the nine years I've been working on this project, every time I became discouraged I would say to myself, 'Don't be a wimp. Remember, it took 72 years for women to win the vote,' " says Barbara Stuhler. A retired University of Minnesota administrator who has been the prime mover behind the project, Stuhler wrote "Gentle Warriors: Clara Ueland and the Minnesota Struggle for WomanSuffrage" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1995, $15.95).

"It's the first memorial of any significance to women in the Capitol," Stuhler says. "Aside from a couple of plaques, there was no recognition of the contribution women have made over the years to Minnesota and its well-being. The memorial serves that purpose."

Besides Stuhler, key players in raising $31,500 to renovate the garden were Ruby Hunt, Sally Ross and other members of the Ross Group, a loosely organized group that's interested in downtown beautification. Substantial donations were made by many individuals, the St. Paul Garden Club, Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Grothe, who donated some landscaping services. Sally Sawyer represented the League of Women Voters of Minnesota Education Fund, which served as the fiscal agent. Through it all, we had remarkable cooperation from Nancy Stark and Paul Mandell of the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board and Linda Kane at the State Architect's Office.


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