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When Esther Morris Headed West

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A biography of the first female judge in the United States tells the remarkable tale of how, back in 1869, she fought for a women's right to vote and she believed that a woman could hold a public office.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2001

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,250 reviews
January 17, 2023
Excellent! Entertaining text paired with expressive illustrations that add a lot of personality and humor. I appreciate how this story shows that, while many opposed her efforts, a few men were also supporters of women's rights and worked with Esther in forwarding the cause -- it's important to show when women and men did work together in history and, of course, this also does absolutely nothing to diminish the amazing and pioneering work Esther did as a woman. It also shows how some people can change their minds as they see ideas in action. So important!
Back matter includes an Author's Note, Helpful Sources, and Places to Visit.

In Esther's Wyoming, women won the right to vote (and hold office) in 1869.
I love the ending of this book, which brings the story forward:
"In the summer of 1920, a professor from the University of Wyoming made her way out to what was left of South Pass City. She got herself a wheelbarrow and took a stone from the broken-down home of William Bright, who once had the courage to propose a crazy new idea.
"She took another stone from the home of Esther Morris, who had the courage to show how the idea looked in the living of it. She took a third stone from the home of Ben Sheeks, who hated the idea, saw how it looked in the living, and had the courage to change his way of thinking.
"The professor piled the stones into a monument and invited the remaining inhabitants of South Pass City to a dedication ceremony. As the sun sank behind the mountains, nineteen human beings, two dogs, and a cow remembered for a moment that once in time a thing bigger and better than gold happened here."

Pair with I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote as both are enjoyable reads and present a slightly different focus giving a fuller picture of this remarkable woman.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
3,004 reviews1,481 followers
June 6, 2018
A middle-aged widow and mother, Esther Morris, went West in 1869 to South Pass City in Wyoming Territory and changed history. She fought for women's suffrage and became the first woman to hold public office. This book is a straight, simple biography. It's a sort of sequel to I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote but covers some of the same timeframe. I prefer the quirky story of I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote but this book is very good too. Esther Morris was a strong, intelligent, capable woman who probably didn't have much formal education but knew what she wanted and how to get it. This book takes us past her death to 1920 when women in all states finally won the right to vote. The final page is my favorite because of the message and the illustration.

The illustrations are done in a soft color palette and look realistic but not too realistic. The people aside from Esther look a bit cartoony. There's a lot of dry dust/dirt and a Wild West feel to the pictures. The final illustration of Esther is funny, cute and my favorite.

The book includes an author's note, list of sources and places to visit.

I would recommend this book for kids ages 6-8 while the other book is better suited for younger kids about 4-6.
Profile Image for Anna.
87 reviews4 followers
August 4, 2016
When Esther Morris headed West / Connie Woolridge / 2001
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: picture book
Plot summary: Celebrates the life and work of Esther Morris who succeeded in pressuring Wyoming legislators into becoming the first state to grant suffrage to women, and who went on to become the first woman to hold a judicial position in the United States.
Considerations: discussion of politics

Review citation:School Library Journal, vol 47, issue 9
"Wooldridge tells Morris's story with wit and dignity. Her prose is smooth and succinct, with just enough colloquialism thrown in to evoke the setting. She is ably assisted by Rogers's charming watercolor illustrations, in which the imposing woman is usually depicted either bending down or looking down to meet the eyes of flustered detractors and friends alike."

Section source: School Library Journal
Recommended age: 6-9
Profile Image for Luann.
1,278 reviews117 followers
August 29, 2011
This is just about perfect for a nonfiction picture book biography. It has the perfect amount of text per page, giving plenty of detail while not overwhelming with information. The illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers match the text perfectly and make me feel like I know and understand who each character is. I especially love the expressions on the characters' faces! Also, there is a short but very informative author's note at the end.

I learned a lot from reading this - just enough that I wanted to learn more so I read a bit about the history of women's suffrage online. I knew that Utah was one of the earliest places to allow women the vote, but I hadn't realized that Wyoming was the very first place in the world to give its women the vote!
Profile Image for Unprinted.
395 reviews48 followers
May 24, 2019
Unlike Linda Arms White’s “I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote”, Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge’s “When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the Right to Vote” account of Esther’s story focuses on her later years, as a more mature woman and develops a bit beyond the other into her life after court. It is a superb complement for a young reader to understand and fortify the knowledge about this great historic figure. The book has beautiful illustrations which entices the sense of adventure, the amazing costumes worn in the past and a surprising wild west scenery, fuelling imagination and provoking keen interest and attention.
Profile Image for Panda Incognito.
3,199 reviews56 followers
March 12, 2023
This nonfiction picture book shares an inspiring little-known story, and I particularly appreciate how it emphasizes ways that men and women worked together for the cause of women's suffrage, rather than only portraying Morris's work. This is a powerful portrayal of how people can make a difference (and change their minds!), and the author's note is a must-read along with the rest of the story.
Profile Image for Tam Newell.
648 reviews2 followers
June 9, 2020
50 States books for Wyoming. Story of Esther Morris, the woman who fought for women’s right to vote in Wyoming, the first state to allow women to vote and hold office. Well written. The Author’s Note is a must read as well.
Profile Image for Shelli.
5,004 reviews41 followers
July 25, 2021
An exciting bit of history that should be covered in all American History classes detailing how a majority of Wyoming’s citizens learned in their states infancy that politics would be better served if women were a part of it. The women of Wyoming were not only given the right to vote in 1869, a full 51 years before it was ratified in the U.S. Constitution, they were allowed to hold office too. Esther Morris took up the mantel to show just how well a woman could serve her state and its citizens. A nice addition to any elementary/middle school library or classroom.
Profile Image for Sarah .
1,140 reviews19 followers
March 15, 2011
Cute story about Wyoming and how women were first granted the right to vote there. It is a picture book nonfiction that is more a story than full of facts. I would possibly read it out loud, but might not recomend it for kids doing reports.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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