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Martha Hughes Cannon: First Woman State Senator & Public Health Pioneer

Portrait of Martha Hughes Cannon by artist Amelie Chabannes.

Grade Level Grades 6-12
Resource Type Activity


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Learn about Martha “Mattie” Hughes Cannon, an accomplished physician, suffragist, and the first woman state senator in the United States, elected in 1896 in the state of Utah. This digital short from Unladylike2020 features the story of an immigrant child from Wales, UK, who moved with her family at age 2 to Utah, became a physician, opened her own medical practice, married into a plural marriage, fled the country in exile, returned and then ran for state office—and won—when most women in the United States did not have the right to vote.

In this resource, students explore the life and times of Hughes Cannon using video, discussion questions, and analysis of primary sources and informational texts to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how women’s roles evolved throughout its history.

UNLADYLIKE2020 is a production of Unladylike Productions in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters. UNLADYLIKE2020's collection of educational resources was created by The WNET Group’s Kids Media & Education Department with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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