Constance Lieber on Martha Hughes Cannon (1857-1932) the First Female State Senator (Utah) in the USA

Date: April 17, 2023 (Season 5, Episode 12: 1 hour and 7 minutes long). Click here for the BuzzSprout version of this Speak Your Piece episode. Are you interested in other episodes of Speak Your Piece? Click here. The episode was co-produced by Brad Westwood, Chelsey Zamir, and Dr. Katherine Kitterman, with sound engineering and post-production editing from Jason T. Powers, from the Utah State Library Recording Studio.

The above photograph is of Martha Hughes Cannon, circa 1892. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

In this Speak Your Piece episode, we hear from Dr. Constance Lieber, author and historian, on her book Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon: Suffragist, Senator, Plural Wife (Signature Books 2022), with SYP host Brad Westwood, and co-host Dr. Katherine Kitterman, Utah State Historical Society’s women’s history coordinator. In this episode, Dr. Lieber discusses the subject of her book, Martha “Mattie” Hughes Cannon, who in 1896, became the first elected female state senator in the United States, an extraordinary accomplishment as she was elected 24 years before most women in the United States could vote. 

A groundbreaking late 19th-century woman, Cannon vacillated between her goals, her public ambitions, being a devout Mormon, a polygamist wife (she was the fourth of six wives), an attentive mother, and a practicing physician.  Cannon was a standout suffragist locally and nationally, a compelling writer and orator, and a pioneering public health leader for the state.

In this episode, hear Drs. Lieber and Kitterman discuss a myriad of insightful details compiled by Lieber after many years of research. A statue of Dr. Hughes Cannon is slated to be installed, sometime in 2024, within the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall, to represent Utah, among likenesses of prominent Americans, from across the United States.

Caption: Among other former members of Utah’s legislators, Dr. Martha “Mattie” Hughes Cannon is placed center-right in this illustration. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

Bio: Constance Lieber, Ph.D., is the author of the book Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon: Suffragist, Senator, Plural Wife published by Signature Book in 2022. She holds degrees in history, Germanic and Slavic Literature, and a Ph.D. in Languages and Literature from the University of Utah. Constance is a full-time translator for International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory and Institute (IDFL) based in Salt Lake City.

Bio: Katherine Kitterman, Ph.D., holds a degree in History from American University in Washington, D.C. She is the Utah State Historical Society’s women’s history coordinator. Before joining the historical society, she was director of BetterDays2020, an organization dedicated to elevating women’s voices past and present. Kitterman was also an instructor in LDS Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, and worked in Washington, D.C., for the Smithsonian Institution, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Photograph courtesy of

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