SARAH E. ANDERSON
- Grant Recipient
National Votes for Women Trail
- 2332 Kiesel Ave, Ogden, UT 84401, USA
- 41.224214, -111.971555
National Collaborative for Women's History Sites
In the United States, women struggled for decades to gain voting rights until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution 1920. Prior to this, around 1847, the Mormons, led by Brigham Young, arrived in the Utah Territory. As they settled the land and built communities, they also established local government and passed laws. The Utah Territory made history when, in 1870, it became one of the few places in the United States to give women the right to vote. For nearly 20 years the women of the territory enjoyed this right until 1887, when Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act. Between 1887-1895, citizens across the territory mobilized for the cause of woman suffrage.
Born in the Utah Territory around 1853, suffragist and state representative Sarah E. Anderson, originally known as Sarah E. Nelson, was a lifelong resident of Utah. Circa 1870 she married Dr. Porter Anderson and together they had five children. Unfortunately tragedy struck in 1888 when her husband passed away unexpectedly. Newly widowed with a family to provide for, Sarah supported them by maintaining her husband’s vast property holdings. While caring for her family she was also dedicated toward the cause of woman suffrage. In 1895, Sara E. Anderson was denied the right to vote, however only a short time later at the Utah State Constitutional Convention, women spoke on behalf of woman suffrage. When Utah became a state on January 4, 1896, voting rights for women were restored. According an October 25, 1896 edition of the Salt Lake Herald, Anderson was praised for what an asset she would be to the people of Weber County if elected to office:
Mrs. Sarah E. Anderson is a genuine lady of marked ability and force of character. She will prove a valuable aid to the people of Weber county as a legislator.
With such praise of her character and ability, it should not come as a surprise that in 1896 Sarah became the first women to be elected to the Utah State Legislature. She continued to reside in Ogden and served as a representative for several years. Sadly, she passed away at her home in Ogden, Utah, on December 22, 1900 at the age of 47. While her life was tragically cut short, she made history and helped pave the way for the future generations of women.