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WSLL @ Your Service June 2019


Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Wisconsin - Carol Hassler

"For 53 years," Theodora Winton Youmans wrote in the June 12, 1919 edition of the Wood County Reporter, "the woman suffrage question has been presented in some way to each session of the Congress of the United States." In June 1919, it was finally close to resolution when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally passed into law and set to the states to ratify. Youmans was one of the first women journalists and the president of the Wisconsin Women's Suffrage Association (WWSA) when Wisconsin ratified the amendment. Her words can be widely read in archived newsletters and newspapers, and paint a vivid picture of some of the arguments and issues of the time.

newspaper excerpt

Women were the engines of change, fighting for the right to vote for decades. While the conventional Wisconsin women's suffrage story tends to focus on the final frenzy of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment and the subsequent rush to be first to file it in Washington D.C., the story of women's suffrage in Wisconsin is both rich and lengthy, stretching back to the origins of the state. Before women enjoyed full voting rights, they fought for limited rights to serve in office and vote in school elections.

Youmans led the WWSA to victory in 1919, but there were many women who worked from the local to the national level to enact full women's suffrage.

Belle Case La Follette was also active in women's movements, as well as one of the first women attorneys licensed in Wisconsin and the first woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Law School. La Follette spoke widely and wrote regular columns in support of women's suffrage. Read more about Belle Case La Follette in the book, Pioneers in the law: the first 150 women. In a May 29, 1913 article in the New North newspaper (Rhinelander), La Follette was recognized for her extensive travel throughout Wisconsin to speak in support of suffrage.

In the same article, Belle Case La Follette recognized the work of WWSA chairwoman Ada James, who "has been such a modest, patient, tactful and yet able and determined worker in the Wisconsin suffrage movement." Ada James joined Youmans in the newer wave of women's suffrage at the turn of the century. Ada James, along with her senator father, pushed for a statewide referendum on women's suffrage in 1912. She chaired the Wisconsin Women Suffrage Association and organized, then served as president of the Political Equality League for two years. She spoke regularly to advocate for women's suffrage.


One of women's suffrage's early leaders was Olympia Brown who led the WWSA from 1884 to 1912, pushing for radical change like full suffrage, rather than minor advancements. Brown was an ordained minister and spoke widely in support of suffrage. She achieved additional prominence when she voted for municipal offices in an 1887 local election, on the grounds that all the offices on the ballot affected school matters, in which women were allowed to vote. The briefs for her case, Brown v. Phillips, 71 Wis. 239 (1887), are available in the David T. Prosser Jr. Library. She was in her mid-80's when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified. In a June 9, 1919 article, Brown advocated for hasty ratification of the amendment which she had worked toward, through one avenue or another, for sixty years. "There is no doubt," she was quoted as saying, "that the necessary number of states will be secured to sanction the amendment. All present suffrage states can be depended upon, and many others incline toward the move." (Journal Times, Racine, June 9, 1919) Wisconsin became the first state to officially ratify the amendment in early June 1919, but the amendment wouldn't pass its last hurdle until Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify it on August 18, 1920.

June 10, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Throughout the month of June, the David T. Prosser Jr. Library will host a display featuring historical briefs and laws, related books, and photos and newspaper articles of the time. Come into the library to read through these first hand. Watch our website and Facebook for blog posts featuring briefs from prominent cases, and more information about the women behind women's suffrage in Wisconsin.

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Women’s Suffrage Legislation in Wisconsin - Michael Keane

The process of passing full women's suffrage was decades in duration, and marked by setbacks. The first legislative attempt to pass women's suffrage in Wisconsin was in 1867 when the Legislature approved the first consideration of a constitutional amendment granting the right to vote to "citizens of the United States" and omitting the existing limitation of voting rights to "every male person." However, the Legislature failed to adopt the proposed amendment for a second time, and the measure failed.

"Woman has written and appeared in every department of knowledge…She has given good evidence of her powers and capacity to govern and rule…Let this question be submitted to the people, and if they will let this grand circle of reform be completed, we will have it so that all will have their political rights without distinction of birth, race, color, or sex."  (Report of the Committee of Federal Relations on Joint Resolution No. 43, A., 1867 Senate Journal, p. 1008)

In 1886, the Legislature enacted a law and voters approved a referendum giving women the right to vote in "any election pertaining to school matters." Algra Collins Hollister noted in a news article afterwards, "It become evident very soon that a law so variously understood must be submitted to the Supreme Court for its decision. It became still more evident that a test case must be made after the April election, when over 2,000 women through the state voted or tried to vote at municipal elections and town meetings." (Waukesha Daily Freeman, March 22, 1888) In April of 1887, Racine suffragist Olympia Brown asserted the right to vote in municipal elections for mayor and common council because school boards were appointed by local officials in Racine. Brown reasoned that she would have to vote in these races to have an impact on school matters. While the circuit court agreed with her, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's decision in Brown v. Phillips, 71 Wis. 239 (1887).


The right to vote in "school matters" was tested in 1888 when the Supreme Court ruled that a separate ballot box for women was not authorized by law. This decision, in Gilkey v. McKinley, 75 Wis. 543 (1890), created a problem: the clerk could not create a separate ballot box for women, but was also prohibited from inspecting women's ballots to make sure they only voted on "school matters." Much later in 1901, the Legislature enacted a law requiring every precinct in the state to provide a separate ballot box for votes on school matters.

Also in 1901, another constitutional amendment for full women's suffrage was proposed. Again, it didn't pass. Measures were introduced every session until 1911, when the Legislature enacted full equal franchise for women with Chapter 227, Laws of 1911. The majority of Wisconsin men voted against the law in the following referendum. During the 1913 session, the Legislature once again passed a law granting equal franchise to women. This time, however, Governor Francis McGovern vetoed the bill that he had signed in 1911. In a June 24, 1914 article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Ada James blamed "liquor interests and their representatives" for the referendum failure.

The focus of suffrage organizations shifted to the national arena instead. The federal amendment for women's suffrage passed Congress in 1919. Wisconsin's Legislature, which was still in session, approved the nineteenth amendment just days later on June 10, and became the first state to deliver its paper to Washington D.C. Equal suffrage for women was implemented in time for the November 1920 general election. Wisconsin voters increased by over fifty percent from the last presidential election in November 1916. One last task remained: the state constitutional language limiting the franchise right to "every male person" was finally repealed in November 1934.

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New Books - Kari Zelinka

New Book! Field guide to legal research, by Paul D. Callister
Call Number: KF 240 .C35 2019

If you are new to research or need a refresher, this field guide is full of useful information. There are many screenshots, images, and figures from various resources and plenty of examples to help you remember when to use which source. Even the last chapter, A Few Additional Suggestions, should be paid heed. It contains quick tips on how to recognize and track down cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and rules of professional conduct, as well as preparation for litigation and docket searching. 

Topics  include:

  • Working a Research Problem
  • Problem Typing including problems of subject, agency, statistical, news, litigation analytics, etc.
  • Primary and Secondary Sources, Codified Statutes and Regulations, Law Reviews, and Journals
  • Construct of the Legal Research Process

New Edition! The family law guide to appellate practice, by Matthew P. Barach
Call Number: KF 505.5 .B37 2019

Matthew Barach has written a step-by-step guide to filing an appeal from family court. First, he examines the question about whether to appeal a family court decision. The family lawyer must consider the potential result and costs both on individuals involved in the case, and the precedent a matter could set up for future litigants. Once the decision is made to appeal, ethical considerations are discussed as well as how to handle each step of the process. For example, Barach examines the effective use of post trial remedies including stays of judgments pending appeals and creating, protecting, and reviewing the record of the trial court.

Chapters  include:

  • Interlocutory Relief: What. How and When to Challenge Orders Prior to Final Judgment
  • Understanding Standards of Appellate Review
  • The Notice of Appeal: Form, Contents, and Time
  • How to Assemble the Record, Correct Errors, Protect Confidential Information, and Docket the Appeal
  • The Importance of the Record Appendix
  • The Universal Elements of a Brief and Writing with Persuasive Style
  • The Purpose of the Reply Brief: How? When? Why? And Ten Commandments
  • Preparing for Oral Argument
  • Aftermath: The Appellate Decision

new book shelf
New Titles RSS Feed See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources.

For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.


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Tech Tip - Heidi Yelk

Windows 7 is coming to an end.  Although this operating system was introduced 10 years ago, it's estimated that almost 40% of PC users are still using it. The official end date for support is six months down the road, January 14, 2020, but it's important that users take stock now to consider a game plan. 


If your PC is running automatic Windows updates, there's a very good chance that you're in good shape up until January 2020. If not, or if you are not sure, you will want to verify that your PC received update KB4474419 which was deployed in mid-March 2019. To check, go to the Start button, access the Control Panel, click on System and Security and then choose Windows Update. From here, you can view the Update History or choose Check for Updates. You can download the Microsoft Update Catalog as well. This download is needed to ensure you receive future patches. In addition, Microsoft is also delivering warning messages about the end of Windows 7. You can read more about the Windows 7 alerts on ComputerWorld.

After January 2020, your Windows 7 PC will still work but Microsoft will no longer release updates or support the operating system. As a result, it will be more vulnerable to viruses and other Internet threats. Users will need to consider upgrading to Windows 10 or perhaps buying a new PC altogether. See these articles from laptopmag.com, Consumer Reports, and techradar.com for more discussion.


Image source

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Library News - Carol Hassler

Law Day at our libraries


Thank you for celebrating Law Day with us! At the David T. Prosser Jr. Library, we offered a CLE class on researching Wisconsin legislative history with 22 attendees. The Dane County Law Library hosted free legal consultations provided by Dane County Bar Association volunteers, with 38 individuals attending.

Thanks to everyone who made Law Day a success!

Agency librarians meeting

In May, the David T. Prosser Jr. Library hosted the most recent meeting of the State Agency Librarians Group, which provides opportunities for state librarians to share knowledge with each other. Web Services Librarian Carol Hassler presented to the group on tips and strategies for creating handouts.

Schedule a library tour today!

Would you like to learn more about library services? Attend an upcoming orientation session at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library. These one-hour sessions provide a guided tour of the library, information about library services, and a demonstration of online legal research tools available through the library website and on the library's public computers. Law students, summer associates, law clerks, and interns are especially encouraged to attend, but anyone is welcome.

Tours will take place Wednesday, June 5 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. and Tuesday, June 11 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. To register, please email Tammy Keller (Tammy.Keller@wicourts.gov) with your name, firm or business name, and date preference for a tour.  Please let Tammy know when you register if you would like to sign up for a free library card as well. You can pick your new card up at the library when you arrive for the tour. Eligible card holders are also encouraged to apply for a library card through our website.

new library assistant

Staff news

We are pleased to announce that Katie Mamrosh has joined our staff as the new morning LTE library assistant. Katie graduated from UW with an English degree on May 12. She's excited to gain library experience, and will be applying to library school in the spring. Stop by the Circulation Desk and say hello!

June classes

It's easy to use a website every day and still miss new features and information. Use our next June class, New Features in Westlaw, to take some time and catch up on what you may have missed. This class demonstrates new tools, features, and information on Westlaw, which can help you to use it more efficiently.

New Features on Westlaw
Tuesday, June 18, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: David T. Prosser Jr. Library training room
The objective of this course is to update and refresh attorneys on Westlaw and show new tools, features and content available. The new tools and content enhancements will also assist the attorneys in providing more cost effective researching to their clients.
FREE. 1 CLE credit. Registration is limited to 8. Register Online | Print Registration Form

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June Snapshot


May Brings Blooms
Photo by Elspeth Gordon

There's no surer sign of spring in downtown Madison than tulips blooming around the Capitol!

We are accepting snapshots! Do you have a photo highlighting libraries, attractions or points of historical interest? Send your photo the editor at carol.hassler@wicourts.gov to be included in a future issue.

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