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Dakota Datebook

Suffrage at the State Fair


On this date in 1914, suffragists were prepping to represent their cause at the North Dakota State Fair, to be held in Fargo from July 20-25.


The booth in the merchant’s pavilion was assembled by Dan Darrow, Charles Amidon, and Cy Poppler, and the Grand Forks Daily Herald called it “well-worth seeing from the artistic standpoint alone.”


Multiple women would manage the booth, distributing literature, and selling pennants, candy, and buttons. They also would sell a special North Dakota issue of the Woman’s Journal, the suffrage publication published in Boston. 


Newspapers noted, “Visiting suffragists will find this a congenial place to meet headquarters’ workers and become acquainted; and other than suffragists will enjoy the ice cold lemonade to be had there for the asking.”


The anti-suffragists also had a booth at the fair, under the charge of Marjorie Dorman, press agent for the National Anti-Suffrage Association of New York City. Dorman distributed anti-suffrage literature to to the fair visitors, and displayed a banner that read: “The Preservation of the Family and a Race of Womanly Women is More Vital to the Children of the Future and the State than ‘Votes for Women.’”


In addition to the competing displays, local suffragist Irma Erwin Poppler, the lone policewoman of Fargo, formally issued a challenge to Marjorie Dorman to debate the topic of suffrage. Dorman took her up on it and faced Miss Jane Thompson of the National Suffrage Association. 


Thompson was in North Dakota on a campaign to visit every county of North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Missouri before November 1st. While at the fair in Fargo, she also gave two addresses about the topic of suffrage to very enthusiastic crowds. 


Newspapers noted, “Both speakers were liberally applauded and held the attention of their audiences throughout.” Interestingly, “Miss Thompson created a sensation by stating that the people now opposing suffrage [were the same kind who] opposed Professor Ladd [of North Dakota] in his efforts for [establishing] pure food [regulations] and to keep out snuff in this state.”


Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



Grand Forks Daily Herald and the Evening Times, July 20, 1914, p5

Grand Forks Daily Herald and the Evening Times, July 11, 1914, p3

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, July 11, 1914, p7

The Weekly Times-Record, August 6, 1914, p3

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, Jul 8, 1914, p7

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, July 20, 1914, p1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, July 14, 1914, p5

Grand Forks Daily Herald and the Evening Times, July 10, 1914, p3

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, July 25, 1914

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