One Large Community: The Rich History of Wyoming’s Women

When Congress ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920, legally guaranteeing women the right to vote, women in Wyoming had already been voting in the general election for 50 years*. Strong women punctuate Wyoming’s history and that of our great nation.

“The mere act of women advocating for themselves and exercising their right to vote was an act of immense courage,” remarks Walt Doney, Community Outreach & Events Coordinator for the Self Help Center in Casper. “Historically, women had been marginalized and denied this right. By stepping forward to advocate for themselves and assert their voices through voting, our state’s women were able to challenge deeply ingrained societal norms. Their courage lay in their willingness to confront systemic inequality, risking social ostracism, ridicule, and, in some cases, even violence. Despite these obstacles, many women paved the way for future generations, ensuring that their voices would be heard in shaping the course of their own lives and the nation as a whole.”

Today, the stage is set for the next generation, with ample historical inspiration to energize and encourage. Women now have access to a growing number of programs, services, and resources that heal, uplift, and support them on their journey toward thriving connections and brilliant prospects.

Critical programs for women at the University of Wyoming include the Wyoming Latina Youth Center (WLYC), which “empowers young Latinas to achieve a successful transition to the University of Wyoming by providing leadership opportunities to participate in innovative programs that address Wyoming’s Latina youths’ social, academic, and educational needs,” explains Daniel Lopez-Carrillo, Media Specialist for WLYC. ”WLYCenter believes in a future of Latinas where they are able to pursue their dreams, reach their goals, and acquire the skills and self-confidence to live a life of purpose, connection, contribution, and joy.”

Our state is one large community… There is an abundance of opportunities for women to empower their futures in our state,” observes Doney. “For those seeking to further their education beyond high school, Hathaway Scholarships offer an opportunity to attend local universities and the University of Wyoming at minimal cost. The University of Wyoming offers students Gender and Women’s Studies Internships, providing students an opportunity to earn college credit, work in the community, and explore career opportunities. Climb Wyoming, a state-wide non-profit organization offers single mothers job training and placement opportunities.”

The strength and ability to overcome challenges seep into our Wyoming women from the very soil, with undiscovered and uncovered potential all around. “Wyoming has a rich history of strong and resilient women,” celebrates Katie Hogarty, CEO for Climb Wyoming. “The single moms who come to Climb Wyoming are no different — they are taking brave steps to ensure their families can thrive and grow. In a rural state like Wyoming, poverty can be isolating, and it can be hard to reach out for support. But when single moms gain job skills and move into stable, well-paying employment, they are rewriting their life stories. It’s important to celebrate their accomplishments because when moms find long-term employment success, it has a ripple effect on neighborhoods, communities, and Wyoming’s economy. In this way, Climb is helping reshape Wyoming’s future.”

“When we lift moms up, we lift up their children,” continues Hogarty. “Climb not only helps women in Wyoming who are leading their families out of poverty and contributing to fill critical jobs in our workforce, but we also help build the next generation of leaders. As moms gain financial stability and have greater access to food, housing, school, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and more, this truly gives families a chance to not only survive but thrive and grow in a way that positively impacts the entire state of Wyoming.”

“We never back down. We know our goals, and we work for them. This is the proud tradition of Wyoming women, a tradition that the Hughes Charitable Foundation is honored to work to support and defend,” says Molly Hughes, Executive Director of the Hughes Charitable Foundation.

Blazing trails since before Wyoming was an official U.S. state - that’s Wyoming’s women for you. By working together, we can support the continuation of this vibrant tradition.


A Look at Women’s History in Wyoming
Timeline provided by Self Help Center

1870 – First woman Justice of the Peace - Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris
1870 – First woman to vote in a general election in the U.S. – Louisa Ann Swain of Laramie
1925 – First woman Governor takes office (and future Director of the US Mint (1933) – Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross
1988-1992 – First African American to serve in the Wyoming Legislature as Wyoming State Senator – Harriet Elizabeth Byrd who sponsored the MLK Jr Day bill adopted in 1990
1994-1996 – First Asian-Native American woman to serve in a state legislature – Nimi McConigley

“Climb gave me the tools to go forth into the community. I’ve been able to replicate the energy I felt at Climb in other places in my life.”

Samm, Climb graduate

Read Climb graduate Samm’s experience in their 2023 Progress Report


Walt Doney
Community Outreach & Events Coordinator
Self Help Center

Katie Hogarty
Statewide Communications Manager
Climb Wyoming

Daniel Lopez-Carrillo
Media Specialist
Wyoming Latina Youth Center
University of Wyoming


“19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)” – Read More
“Louisa Ann Swain” – Read More

View In-depth Timeline from the Wyoming Women’s Foundation:


“An In-Depth Interview with the Wyoming Women’s Foundation” – Read More
“Increasing Female Voice in Policy Making and Legislation” – Read More
“Opportunities for Mentorship and Support” – Read More
“Sea Change – Indigenous Women Leading the Way” – Read More

More Love in Action