Breaking Barriers

Nearly 60 years before women were allowed to vote, the Homestead Act of 1862 offered something extraordinary. For the first time, women could claim and manage 160 acres of free, public land in their own names. To become a homesteader, a woman had to be 21 years old and a U.S. citizen or have recently filed for citizenship. A married woman couldn’t take advantage of the homesteading opportunity unless she had been deserted by her husband or was considered the head of her household. Before women could officially own their land, they

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