AHC Receives Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Grant to Digitize Women’s Political Collections

The American Heritage Center is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund for the 2015 calendar year.  The grant will fund the digitization, preservation, and online access of four collections from the theme “Wyoming Women in Politics and Leadership.”  As a part of the only university in the “Equality State,” the AHC is continuing a long tradition of collecting and making available material on women’s issues and political accomplishments—and indeed, we already have digitized the papers of Wyoming’s and the nation’s first elected woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, in conjunction with the Wyoming State Archives

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For this project, we are digitizing the League of Women Voters of Wyoming records, as well as the collections of Edith K. O. Clark, Sheila Arnold, and Harriett E. Byrd.

Edith K. O. Clark was a schoolteacher who became Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position in which she served from 1915 to 1919.  She also served as Sheridan County school superintendent, volunteered with the YWCA in France following the First World War, and later retired and homesteaded in Johnson County until her death in 1936. Her daily entries and photographs detail her time as Superintendent in Cheyenne, and include pasted in newspaper clippings, drawings, photographs, and notes. The diaries continue with her volunteering after World War I, and her time as a homesteader.

Harriett Elizabeth Byrd was a public school teacher elected to the Wyoming State House in 1980, and became the first African American legislator in Wyoming since statehood as well as the first African American woman to ever serve in the Wyoming State Legislature. After serving eight years, she ran for and won election to the Wyoming State Senate in 1988, where she served four years. During her legislative career, Byrd was the prime sponsor of legislation to create Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day.

Sheila Arnold was a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1978 to 1992.  While a State Legislator she was a member of the Joint Interim Mines, Minerals, Industrial Development Committee, Committee on Revenue, and the Committee on Rules and Procedures, the Governor’s Council on Disabilities, and the Governor’s Committee on Health Insurance.

The League of Women Voters of Wyoming records span the postwar years to the dawn of the millennium, and detail the organization’s ongoing advocacy and outreach to women in clarifying election issues, sponsoring voter registration drives and debates, and raising awareness of voter fairness issues such as apportionment, initiatives, referenda, and balloting.  Records from the local chapters include Laramie, Cheyenne, Casper, Teton County, and Yellowstone.

In recent years the AHC has dramatically expanded the reach of its unique holdings through the digitization and online hosting of collection materials. With generous support from the Cultural Trust Fund and private funding, the AHC now hosts over 111,000 digitized collection items totaling over 3,200 gigabytes of data, with material from over 110 of our most prominent collections, making the AHC one of the largest providers of digital cultural material in the state.

Two recent grants from the Cultural Trust fund have supported the digitization of the films of Adolph and Olaus Murie, noted naturalists, and the interviews of Wyoming pioneers and early state residents. This collection material, along with a wide variety of other documents, photographs, and films, are available on our digital collections website.

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