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Mamie Shields Pyle papers

Identifier: MS-129

Content Description

Correspondence: Boxes 1-5 The correspondence series consists of letters received and copies of letters sent by Pyle during her tenure as president of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League. The majority of letters are written to campaign and district chairs, volunteers, legislators, South Dakota newspapers and members of both state and national suffrage associations. The correspondence contains information on campaign schedules, league meetings, amendments and resolutions relating to the vote for South Dakota women. The correspondence also contains materials pertaining to the Woman's Committee of Council of National Defense, South Dakota Division. The letters are arranged chronologically.

Manuscripts: Box 6 There are only a few written items in this collection and are all on the suffrage movement and Amendment E. Subject Files: Box 6 The subject file series contains financial and budget records, occasional writings, amendments, and voting records relating to state and national suffrage campaigns. The material is organized alphabetically by topic or by organization name. Typescripts: Box 6 The typescript series contains articles and information on suffrage amendments, history of South Dakota Suffrage, lists of members and donors, and information covering much of the campaign. The series is organized alphabetically topic or organization. Printed Materials: Box 6-7 The printed materials series contain pamphlets, posters, press releases, and programs all related to suffrage, Amendment E, and League of Women Voters. Newspaper clippings (all in Box 7) consist of articles from South Dakota and national newspapers pertaining to campaign events and information, members of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League and suffrage in South Dakota. The Printed Materials are sorted alphabetically by topic or organization. The newspapers are organized by topic and date. Scrapbook: Box 7 There is one scrapbook in the collection that was put together by Mamie Pyle in 1921. The scrapbook contains the Beadle County Petition that appeared in the Huronite on 2 November 1918. Oversize: Map drawer Oversize contains several oversize posters including posters related to Amendment E and Suffrage (1918), Equal Suffrage Amendment (1910) and League of Women Voters (1923).


  • 1897 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restriction. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

A pioneer leader of the women's suffrage movement in South Dakota, Mamie Shields Pyle became president of the State Equal Suffrage League in 1910, which became the South Dakota Universal Franchise League the following year. Pyle's determination, along with that of her colleagues, allowed the women of South Dakota to claim victory in 1918, when state lawmakers and voters passed the equal suffrage amendment. Pyle also led the campaign for state ratification of the national suffrage amendment, which occurred on 4 December 1919. Mary Isabella Shields was born on 28 February 1866 in Orange, New Jersey. After her seventh birthday, the Shields family moved from New Jersey to Pleasant Grove, Minnesota. In the fall of 1882 the family relocated to Miller, Dakota Territory. Pyle stayed with her uncle in Brookings County and taught school in Richland Township. Eventually she settled with her family in Miller, teaching at a rural school south of the town. On 26 May 1886, Pyle married John L. Pyle, a prominent, young lawyer and state Attorney General. John died in 1902, leaving thirty-six year old Pyle a widow with four children. Despite limited finances, Pyle managed to send each of her children to Huron College. Her daughter, Gladys Pyle, served South Dakota as the first female state legislator, Secretary of State of South Dakota and state congressional representative. Gladys Pyle also served as a member of the U.S. Senate in 1938. The Dakota Territorial Legislature first passed an amendment in support of suffrage for South Dakota women in 1885, subsequently vetoed by Governor Gilbert A. Pierce. In 1889, the state Constitution allowed women to vote in school elections. South Dakota voters defeated the suffrage amendment another six times before it eventually passed. As president of the South Dakota Universal Suffrage League, Pyle coordinated volunteers, country chairs, campaign tours, and media campaigns. She served as a delegate to the National Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1915 and 1917, and the convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1919. Pyle's contributions placed her on the Honor Roll of the National Woman Suffrage Association on 20 February 1920. In addition to her campaign for suffrage, Pyle served for forty-six years on the board of trustees for Huron College. In 1911, she secured a $100,000 contribution for the college's successful endowment campaign. Pyle also became the first woman in South Dakota to be nominated as a presidential elector. She served as a member of the Electoral College in Washington, D.C. in 1920. In 1947, South Dakotans named Pyle, at eighty-one, Mother of the Year. After an extended illness, Pyle died on 22 December 1949 at her home in Huron.


4.5 Linear Feet (7 document boxes and 1 folder in the oversize map drawer)

Language of Materials



The Mamie Shields Pyle Papers consist of correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous printed material extending from 1910-1929. The bulk of the papers document the campaign activities of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League.


This collection has seven series : Correspondence, Manuscripts, Subject files, Typescripts, Printed Materials, Scrapbook, and Oversize.
Mamie Shields Pyle papers
Mary Ellen Ducey and Anne Hinseth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository