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This is a nice little slice of Americana. After seeing the documentary "Unbeaten", it prompted me to explore more online...
Learn more about Goodland by following the links below:
One small step toward equal rights for women
120 W. 12th
Email Address: email@example.com
About this Exploration:
The fight for women's voting rights in Kansas was a slow process. Goodland helped show the way when its citizens voted for a library tax in 1909.
Kansas women had gained the right to vote in 1861, but only in school board elections. Voting in municipal elections required another 26 years, finally coming in 1887. Then the process stalled again.
In July 1908, the girls of the Christian Church's Christian Endeavor Club decided that Goodland needed a library. Women's groups banded together, selling memberships to raise funds. A library opened Oct. 30, 1908.
Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie had begun giving away his fortune. Much of his philanthropy was directed toward building libraries. Goodland Mayor P.J. McBride asked Carnegie to donate a library for Goodland. Carnegie granted $10,000, a large sum for the day. Carnegie was unpopular because of his business practices, including violent strike-breaking.
Goodland citizens needed to support the library with a tax and a special election was called for Jan. 29, 1909. Women had been pushing for a library, but could they vote on it? The election fell into a gray area. Was it a municipal election or not? City Attorney E.F. Murphy said yes, it was a municipal election and women could vote.
That decision and the decision to accept Carnegie's grant were not popular in all quarters. At a special meeting called to discuss the election, a man named E.F. Mercer led the charge against the library. He said that Carnegie's money was "tainted" because he was "the foe of the working man." The election was tainted because the law "was being stretched to allow women to vote."
In case of future legal difficulties, men's and women's ballots were tallied separately. Both genders voted for the library tax by solid majorities: men, 139-78 in favor; women, 74-12 in favor. No challenges were filed.
Kansas became the eighth state to grant women the right to vote in state elections Nov. 5, 1912. The 19th Amendment allowing women to vote nationally finally came Aug. 20, 1920.
The new building opened Feb. 8, 1913. It is a two-story structure on a raised basement in the Italian Renaissance Revival style with a terra cotta roof. The building is nearly unchanged from its original appearance.
The building remained Goodland's library until 1975. It had become overcrowded and the voters passed a $275,000 bond issue in 1972 to build a new one.
The Goodland Arts Council formed in 1978. In October 1983, they requested the use of the Carnegie Library. The City Commission granted their request and volunteers renovated the building. Goodland Arts Council moved in June 18, 1984, renaming the building Carnegie Arts Center. The building was placed on the National Historic Register Sept. 13, 1985. Local and regional artists' works are for sale here.
None of this would have happened without women's civic activism.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m.; Monday 1-6 p.m. Mountain Time. Closed in January.
Goodland, KS 67735