WOW Museum: The Struggle for Women's Suffrage


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1876-   Colorado State Constitution allows local school suffrage for women; Colorado Woman Suffrage Association founded.

1877-   State referendum for women's suffrage ends in defeat.

1879-   Caroline Churchill begins publishing the suffrage newspaper, The Colorado Antelope, later called The Queen Bee.

1890-   Journalist Ellis Meredith organizes Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association.

1892-   People's Party candidate Davis Waite elected governor on pro-suffrage platform.

1893-   Male voters approve full suffrage for women.

Caroline Nichols Churchill

Caroline Nichols Churchill (1833-1926), the "Queen Bee," Colorado suffragist and journalist.
Colorado Historical Society

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Caroline Nichols Churchill, the "Queen Bee," was born on December 23, 1833, in Pickering, Upper Province, Canada. Churchill had been a schoolteacher, wife, mother, and widow by the 1870s. She moved to Denver in 1879, noting that the city offered "a good atmosphere for weak lungs...a good place to come in order to escape the mother-in-law, or any phantom from which the wicked flee." The immodest Churchill gloated that she was considered eccentric. It is said she could never be induced to wear kid gloves "because it took too much valuable time to put them on and off."

Churchill founded Denver's earliest women's rights newspaper in 1879, the Colorado Antelope, which was "devoted to the interests of humanity, woman's political equality, and individuality." Churchill's editorials denounced complacency. "...Women should remember that all the evils of society are caused by the bad management of men, and women are greatly to blame for folding their hands and permitting this state of things," declared the Antelope in 1880. She changed the paper's name to the Queen Bee in 1882, and bragged that she singlehandedly performed the duties of editor, publisher, reporter, printer, and hawker.

By the early 1890s, suffrage fever was stirring in Colorado. Women's organizations and a few outspoken journalists like Churchill called for a suffrage amendment to the Colorado Constitution. They formed the Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association in 1890, which Churchill supported but never actually joined. She distrusted women's organizations, preferring to advocate for women's right to vote in her own outspoken way. When Colorado's male voters passed the suffrage referendum handily in November of 1893, the front page of the Queen Bee announced the victory to the world: "Western Women Wild With Joy Over the Victory in Colorado." Another headline read: "Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy, Come to Colorado Now, This Shall Be the Land for Women!"

Churchill published an entertaining volume of memoirs called Active Footsteps in 1909. She published her newspaper until her death on January 14, 1926. Churchill had lived and worked for suffrage her entire life, satisfied that her efforts had won Colorado women the vote twenty-seven years before the 19th Amendment made suffrage the law of the land.