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Kansas State University
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University alumna to discuss state's role in women's suffrage movement

Monday, Feb. 16, 2015



MANHATTAN — The first campaign for women's suffrage in Kansas will be the topic of two presentations by Kansas State University alumna Janice Parks Dreiling for the university's observance of Women's History Month in March.

Dreiling is a retired Oklahoma administrative district judge who now has a private law practice in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology from the Kansas State University before going on to earn her law degree from the University of Tulsa.

Her two Kansas State University presentations will be based on the book she is currently writing about the early campaign for women's suffrage, known as woman suffrage at the time, in Kansas. When the state joined the Union in 1861, it had one of the most progressive constitutions in the nation regarding legal rights for women, who could own property and vote in school district elections — but all other voting rights were limited to males.

Dreiling's first talk, "Woman Suffrage: the First Campaign, Kansas 1867; Learn the Story, Remember It, Tell It," will be the annual Women's Studies Advisory Board lecture, Thursday, March 5, at the Manhattan Country Club. A social hour and dinner, beginning at 5:30 p.m., will precede her talk. The events are open to the public. Tickets are $45, or $35 for students, and can be purchased by calling Kim Garver at 785-532-5738 by Friday, Feb. 27.

Her second talk, "Why You Don't Know about Woman Suffrage and What You Need to Know," will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 6, in the Hemisphere Room at Hale Library. The public is welcome to attend.

"In her presentation at the Manhattan Country Club, Dreiling will look at the surprising and ground-breaking story of the first campaign for woman suffrage in the United States, which was waged in Kansas," said Angela Hubler, associate professor of women's studies at Kansas State University. "Using photos and political cartoons from the time, Dreiling will discuss obstacles and the outcomes of that first campaign and how the campaign is relevant today."

The talk also will look at the proponents who traveled from the East to convince the voters — who could only be male — to make Kansas the first state where women could vote: Lucy Stone and husband, Henry Blackwell; Olympia Brown; Susan B. Anthony; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She'll also discuss some of the Kansas advocates for women's suffrage, including Samuel Wood, Charles Robinson and Clarina Howard Nichols.

At her talk on March 6, Dreiling will present the obstacles faced by early proponents of women's suffrage when women first began asking that the voting privilege be extended to them in 1848.

"Dreiling will discuss the reality of what was known as 'woman's sphere,' including the limited right of women to freedom of speech, the exclusion of women from higher education and most professions, the limited job opportunities of women, and the absence of married women's legal rights," Hubler said.

After receiving her law degree in 1980, Dreiling became the elected associate district judge for Washington County, Oklahoma, in 1982, serving until 2002 when she was elected a district judge. She presided over criminal, civil, probate, juvenile, domestic and mental health cases. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference; served as administrative district judge of the Northeast Judicial District from 2004-2006; and was chair of the Assembly of Presiding Judges in 2005 and 2006. She retired from the bench in December 2006. Now in private practice at a firm in Bartlesville, Dreiling specializes in estate planning and probate. She also teaches adult continuing education classes in Bartlesville and Tulsa about the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Dreiling recently endowed the Clarina Howard Nichols scholarship, which will be given annually to an outstanding women's studies major at Kansas State University in the freshman or sophomore year.


Angela Hubler


Women's Studies Department

At a glance

Women's History Month activities in March at Kansas State University will include two presentations on the women's suffrage movement in Kansas by Janice Parks Dreiling.