Step into the iconic Ivinson’s drawing room at the Laramie Plains Museum, and you might get a feel for the Women’s Suffrage conversation occurring more than 100 years ago.
“When the Suffrage Act happened, Dec. 10, 1869, our territorial assembly passed that act for women, which opened the avenues for for our first woman bailiff, our first women voter and more,” Plains Museum Executive Director Mary Mountain said. “But in 1871, they wanted to repeal the act, because they said the country was laughing at them.”
Plains Museum Curator Konnie Cronk and museum staff transformed the gathering space into an invitation only “salon,” where a conversation about the repeal debate might have taken place. Mannequins decorated in period-specific costumes set the scene which could have been hosted by Edward Ivinson with local and national dignitaries in the women’s suffrage movement, including Grace Raymond Hebard, Mary Bellamy, Carrie Chapman Catt and Estelle Reel.
Behind a podium, a representation of Stephen Downey, a prominent Laramie lawyer and Wyoming legislator, is posed preparing a talk about how to achieve suffrage for all American women, granting those in other states the same rights women in Wyoming were granted. The exhibit also contains a copy of the 1900 Laramie Daily Boomerang Women’s Edition, which was written and edited by local women.
“Stephen Downey hit the circuit and wrote some speeches about how important the Suffrage Act was and why it should not be repealed,” Mountain explained. “So we set the salon up as if Edward Ivinson had invited people to come listen to Downey defend the Suffrage Act.”
The Ivinson’s, Jane Ivinson especially, were recorded to be supporters of the Suffrage Act in the Laramie Sentinel, the local newspaper of the time, according to “Rediscovering the Ivinsons” by Kim Viner.
In addition to the Suffrage exhibit, Mountain said the Plains Museum has a wall dedicated to the women of Wyoming, where visitors can view pictures of America’s first female governor, Nellie Taylor Ross, University of Wyoming educator Grace Raymond Hebard and documents recognizing the achievements of Wyoming’s most prominent pioneers in women’s leadership.
Visit the Plains Museum, at 603 Ivinson Ave., between 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays for a walk through women’s history in the making.