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National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
Release Date: 03/04/10
Contacts: Lesley A. Collins 307-261-7603    

New Temporary Women's Exhibit at National Historic Trails Interpretive Center

On March 9, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (NHTIC) will celebrate Women’s History month with the opening of a temporary exhibit, “In Pursuit of Equality,” on loan from the American Heritage Center.

This exhibit tells the story of three women who, through their actions as elected office holders, challenged and changed the conventional understanding of equality in Wyoming during the 20th century: Nelly Tayloe Ross, Thyra Thomson, and Elizabeth Byrd.

Wyoming is a state with a long history of equality. In 1869, Governor John Campbell signed into law a bill giving women the right to vote and hold elective office. The following year Esther Hobart Morris was appointed the first female Justice of the Peace in South Pass City. In 1894, Estelle Reel was the first woman in America elected to a statewide office, as Wyoming’s Superintendant of Public Instruction. By the turn of the century Wyoming was recognized as the Equality State due in large part to these and other important historical firsts.

The legacy continued in 1925 with the election of Nellie Tayloe Ross (featured in the exhibit) as Wyoming’s 13th governor and the first woman governor in the United States. She held office until being narrowly defeated in the election of 1926.

Nearly 40 years after the successful election of Mrs. Ross, Thrya Thomson ran for Wyoming’s Secretary of State. Mrs. Thompson was successfully reelected five times to office. While in office, Mrs. Thompson successfully pursued the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Wyoming Senate in 1973.

The third influential woman featured in the exhibit, Elizabeth Byrd, was the first African-American to serve in the Wyoming Legislature. Mrs. Byrd worked diligently for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be recognized, as well as aiding in the passing of laws to enforce child safety restraints, provide handicapped parking, and create social services for adults.

The exhibit will be on display from March 9, 2010 through early April 2010.

For further information please contact the NHTIC at (307) 261-7780.

The BLM manages more land - 253 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center   1501 North Poplar Street      Casper, WY 82601  

Last updated: 03-04-2010