Better Days 2020, a nonprofit organization dedicated to popularizing Utah women’s history through art, education, and legislation, has reason to celebrate this year—as do all of us. This year, Better Days 2020 will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Utah women casting their first ballots, the first American women to vote under an equal suffrage law. It is also the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave equal voting rights to women; and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which protected voting rights of racial minorities.
There will be numerous arts event to celebrate these landmarks happening throughout the state during 2020. These events, both educational and uplifting, integrate the arts with history and will be engaging to educators and students alike.
The Utah Division of Arts and Museum’s Traveling Exhibit Program will feature Utah artist Brooke Smart’s 50 original illustrations of Utah women’s rights advocates. Check out the full schedule. The exhibit’s last destination will be the Springville Museum of Art and will be on display there from May to August.
The “Utah Women Working for the Vote and Beyond” exhibit features reproductions of Smart’s 50 illustrations paired with historic artifacts. This will be on display on the fourth floor of the Utah State Capitol Building from January¬ to December 2020.
Women’s Rights Memorials
A statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon—Utah’s first female state senator—is to be installed in National Statuary Hall in August 2020. Check out this website to learn more about the statue and Hughes Cannon herself.
There will be a new Women’s History Memorial installed at Council Hall in Salt Lake City. The sculpture was designed by Utah artists Kelsey Harrison and Jason Manley and will memorialize the first woman to vote and honor the millions of women who have voted in Utah and across the nation since that important day.
Resources for Educators
There are other ways to get involved during 2020. Schools can become Utah HERitage Schools and receive free swag and a toolkit of materials to learn and celebrate.
Better Days 2020 would love to hear from schools where teachers and students develop their own arts projects to commemorate and celebrate this special year. Students can attend the 150th Anniversary “First to Vote” Celebration at the Utah State Capitol on February 12, which coincides with another Utah State Capital event, Arts Day on the Hill.
Educators can find free downloadable resources at www.utahwomenshistory.org to help educate students and participate in the celebration. These resources include
- – Utah women’s advocates’ biographies written by scholars and family descendants, paired with Smart’s illustrations
- – Interactive timeline
- – Learning activities
- – Children’s books with Utah History connections and discussion questions
- – Short videos including a video about illustrator Brooke Smart showcasing her studio and process
- – Informational articles
- – Lesson plans that include arts connections
- – Local histories
- – Primary sources sets, which include suffrage memorabilia and political cartoons
For updated information and more ideas, follow the organization on social media @betterdays2020.
Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for The Daily Herald newspaper, and an Arts Leadership Academy graduate. She has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.