Women's Experience Research Guide

Collections in the holdings at the State Historical Society of Missouri reflect the evolution of gender roles and women’s status over the course of the state’s history. The experiences of Missouri women are documented in scrapbooks, professional and personal papers, organizational records, correspondence, news clippings, and more. These collections illustrate the important roles Missouri women have played in the state’s development. Examples of the Society’s holdings include the papers of DeVerne Calloway, an activist in St. Louis who became the first black woman elected to Missouri’s House of Representatives, and the papers of Ellen “Nell” Quinlan Donnelly Reed, a successful entrepreneur in Kansas City.

Articles in the Missouri Historical Review

Catalog

Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in Merlin, the shared library catalog of the four University of Missouri campuses.The State Historical Society holds numerous books on the history of women in Missouri, the Midwest, and the United States generally. The broadest term to search for women is simply “Women.” For a more specific search on women in Missouri, add the subject term “Missouri” to your search.

Historic Missourian Biographies

The State Historical Society’s Historic Missourians website has an entire category devoted to women in Missouri, providing over 35 biographies on Missouri women. Each biography includes images, primary resources, and other references for further study.

Manuscripts

The State Historical Society of Missouri manuscript collections reflect the varied roles women have undertaken and the causes they have supported and chronicle women's lives from childhood to old age.

View All Women Manuscript Collections

Highlighted Collections

National Women in Media

Established in 1987, the National Women and Media Collection held by the State Historical Society of Missouri documents the roles women have played in media fields, both as media employees and as objects of coverage, how those roles have altered over time, and how attitudes of and toward women have changed.

A selection of these materials have been digitized and are available online.

View All Women and Media Manuscript Collections

Missouri Association of Colored Women's Clubs Records

The Missouri Association of Colored Women's Clubs Records collection includes the records of the state organization and member clubs of an association established to improve the status of black women in the home and community. The records include correspondence, financial records, conference files and programs, and information on the history of the organization and its member clubs.

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online.

Newspapers

During the nineteenth century, many women who were related to Missouri editors and publishers assisted their husbands, fathers, and brothers in newspaper work, from typesetting to editing and writing for the papers. While much of this early work went unnoticed, by the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth, a number of women were beginning to gain recognition in the newspaper business.

For a list of all digitized newspapers, visit the Missouri Digital Newspaper Project.

For a list of newspapers on microfilm at the State Historical Society of Missouri, visit the newspaper catalog.

 

County City Title Also Available On Date Range Name/Role/Dates
Audrain Vandalia Vandalia Leader Microfilm 1880-1882; 1895-1898; 1901-present (incomplete) Lily Herald Frost, Editor, 1907-1922
Boone Rocheport Rocheport Progress Microfilm 1908-1917 Annie Chapman, Editor and Publisher, 1906-1917
Franklin St. Clair St. Clair Chronicle Microfilm 1927-1977 Dorothy O. Moore, Publisher, 1952-1985
Gasconade Hermann Hermann Advertiser Microfilm 1875-1877 Christina Graf, Editor and Publisher, 1874-1877
Gasconade Hermann Hermann Advertiser-Courier Microfilm 1877-1993 Christina Graf, Editor and Publisher, 1877-1880
Gasconade Hermann Hermanner Volksblatt Microfilm 1860-1872 Christina Graf, Editor and Publisher, 1870-1873
Gasconade Hermann Hermanner Volksblatt Microfilm 1875-1879 Christina Graf, Editor and Publisher, 1874-1880
Gentry King City King City Democrat Microfilm 1898-1899; 1903; 1905-1918 (incomplete) Maggie A. Bowman, Editor, 1892-1918
Greene Walnut Grove Walnut Grove Tribune Microfilm 1904-1918 Junia E. Heath, Editor and Publisher, 1903-1916
Grundy Spickard Grundy County Gazette Microfilm 1901-1907; 1910-1922 Jennie Dickson and Artie Dickson (sisters), Editors, 1910-1922
Grundy Spickard Spickard Herald and Grundy County Gazette Microfilm 1907-1910 Jennie Dickson and Artie Dickson (sisters), Editors, 1907-1910
Harrison Bethany Bethany Clipper Microfilm 1905-1922 Ada L. Wightman (with brother Sam Wightman), Editor and Publisher, 1905-?
Henry Clinton Clinton Eye Microfilm 1885-present Amanda E. Moore Woolf (aka “Shawnee Shifters”), Columnist, 1891-1939
Jasper Webb City Webb City Daily Register Microfilm 1903-1907 Alice Creswell Rozelle, Reporter, Editor, and Publisher, 1903-1918
Jasper Webb City Webb City Register Microfilm 1907-1917 Alice Creswell Rozelle, Reporter, Editor, and Publisher, 1903-1918
Johnson Holden Holden Enterprise Microfilm 1876-1937 Dora J. Sankey, Editor, 1876-?
Macon New Cambria New Cambria Leader Microfilm 1914-1961 Editors and Publishers: G. and Nellie Hunton, 1920-1926; Frank and Bettie Robertson, 1926-1943; Jennie Jones Robertson (second wife of Frank), 1947-1950
Marion Hannibal Hannibal Daily Courier Microfilm 1873-1889 Julia M. Bennett, Editor, 1879-?
Newton Newtonia Newton County News Microfilm 1890-1907 Eva and Fidelia Mize (sisters), Editors, 1890-1907
Pettis Sedalia Rosa Pearle’s Paper Microfilm 1894-1909 Elizabeth Dugan, Publisher, 1894-1911
Pettis Sedalia Sedalia Weekly Bazoo Microfilm 1871-1895 Elizabeth Dugan, Editor and Reporter, 1872
Phelps Rolla Rolla Herald Microfilm 1877-1953 Edwarda McCrae Woods, Publisher, 1899-1942
Platte Dearborn Dearborn Democrat Microfilm 1898-1977 Nancy Jane “Jennie” Watson, Editor, 1905-?
Pulaski Waynesville Pulaski County Democrat Microfilm 1902-1917 Mary Louise Wheeler, Editor and Publisher, 1906-1912
Shelby Shelbina Shelbina Democrat Microfilm 1870-1918 Martha Jewett, Editor, 1902-1910
Taney Forsyth Taney County Republican Microfilm 1895-1992 Mary Elizabeth Prather Mahnkey, Columnist, 1930-1948
Wright Hartville Wright County Republican Microfilm 1911-1957 Junia E. Heath, Editor and Publisher, 1916-?

On Demand Programs

"Votes for Missouri Women!"

In 2020, as the US commemorated the centennial of the 19th Amendment that gave women the vote, the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection collaborated on the two-part video series "Votes for Missouri Women!" and created the exhibition Missouri Women: Suffrage to Statecraft.

Learn More or Watch

"Earnest Endeavour": Missouri Women and the Work of Civil War Commemoration

As part of the SHSMO Fall Lecture Series, we welcomed speaker Amy Laurel Fluker, the Robert W. Reeder I Professor of nineteenth-century American history at Youngstown State University. Watch as Fluker discusses Civil War commemoration in Missouri as pursued most often by women and from both sides of the conflict in a free video from SHSMO On Demand.

Experiences of African American Women in Missouri

Designed to offer the community opportunities to reach a new understanding of present-day Missouri, the African American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series is curated by Keona K. Ervin, history professor at the University of Missouri–Columbia, and SHSMO executive director Gary Kremer, both Center for Missouri Studies fellows known for research on African American history. Featuring top scholars, this series of nearly two dozen videos explores the lives of African Americans in Missouri's past. The videos linked below feature the experiences of African American women in Missouri.

Our Missouri Podcast Episodes

Our Missouri is a podcast about the people, places, culture, and history of the 114 counties and independent city of St. Louis that comprise the great state of Missouri. Engaging with subject matter experts in each episode, host Sean Rost explores topics related to the state's complex history and culture, from publications about Missouri’s history to current projects undertaken by organizations to preserve and promote local institutions. 

Summer Series 2020: "Show-Me Suffragists"

In 1920, Missourians awaited news regarding the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The state had approved the amendment, which prohibited the federal government and states from denying a citizen the right to vote based upon sex, a year prior, in 1919. However, it would take another year before Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to ratify the new constitutional amendment in August 1920. Our Missouri invites listeners to join us as we explore the fight for the vote through the eyes of a group of "Show-Me Suffragists" who are not as well-known in Missouri History.

  • Part 1: Alma Nash & the Maryville Milieu with Elyssa Ford

    Elyssa Ford discusses Alma Nash and how Maryville's Missouri Ladies Military Band became key participants in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession.

  • Part 2: The Clark Family with Ethan Colbert

    Ethan Colbert discusses the Clark Family of Bowling Green, particularly Genevieve Davis Bennett Clark and Genevieve Clark Thomson, and how discussions of suffrage in their home eventually made it to the halls of Congress.

  • Part 3: Carrie Lee Carter Stokes with Janet Olson

    Janet Olson joins us to talk about the life of Carrie Lee Carter Stokes, and explains how the Dexter (MO) schoolteacher rose to become a prominent leader in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association.

  • Part 4: Voda Curtis, Suffrage, & Civil Rights with Keely Doll

    This episode focuses on the life of Voda "Bea" Hardy Curtis, and documents the path of her family from slavery to suffrage. The episode also features audio clips from Voda Curtis' 1977 oral history (S0829) housed at the State Historical Society of Missouri's St. Louis Research Center, as well as final thoughts from past oral history interns–Cydney Smith, Cassie Draudt, and Keely Doll–who conducted research on Voda Curtis' life.

More Our Missouri Episodes

  • Episode 2: "Prairie Fires" with Caroline Fraser

    Once upon a time, sixty years ago (now nearly 150 years ago), a little girl lived in the big woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs. With that opening scene, Laura Ingalls Wilder launched the Little House book series that eventually became a key piece of American culture. But, did you know, that despite her stories of little houses on the prairies of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and the Dakota Territory, Laura Ingalls Wilder actually spent a majority of her life in the tiny town of Mansfield, Missouri?

  • Missouri Moments: "Rose Wilder Lane" with Caroline Fraser

    Recorded on location at the "People's House," this episode features Mrs. Teresa Parson, First Lady of the State of Missouri, and Dr. Gary R. Kremer, Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, discussing Mrs. Parson's life and family as well as her goals for addressing important issues related to the state's culture and history.

  • Episode 14: "Missouri's First Lady" with Teresa Parson

    Recorded on location at the "People's House," this episode features Mrs. Teresa Parson, First Lady of the State of Missouri, and Dr. Gary R. Kremer, Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, discussing Mrs. Parson's life and family as well as her goals for addressing important issues related to the state's culture and history.

  • Summer Series 2019, Part 1: "Calculations"

    This episode focuses on an astronomer—Edwin Hubble—and a mathematician—Dorothy Vaughan—who grew up in Missouri, but later achieved international acclaim in their respective fields.

  • Episode 20: "Kate Franklin Newton and the Memorial to Missouri's Great Heart"

    This episode focuses on Carthage resident Kate Franklin Newton and her efforts as president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to commission a marble bust in honor of "Missouri's Great Heart," Clara C. Hoffman. Today, the Hoffman Bust resides in the art collection at the State Historical Society of Missouri's Center for Missouri Studies.

  • Episode 28: "Battle Lines & The Golden Lane" with Joan Stack

    SHSMO Curator of Art collections Joan Stack discusses editorial cartoons from St. Louis-based artists Daniel Fitzpatrick, Bill Mauldin, and Tom Engelhardt, as well as the upcoming "Battle Lines" and "Missouri Women: Suffrage to Statecraft" exhibits in the Center for Missouri Studies Art Gallery.

  • Episode 34: "Commonwealth of Compromise" with Amy Laurel Fluker

    A conversation with Amy Laurel Fluker about her new book, Commonwealth of Compromise: Civil War Commemoration in Missouri, published by the University of Missouri Press.

  • Episode 43: "Gateway to Equality" with Keona Ervin

    Keona Ervin discusses her award-winning book, Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis, which was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2017.

  • Episode 48: "Celia, A Slave" with Melton McLaurin

    A conversation with Melton McLaurin about the 30th anniversary of his book, Celia, A Slave.

  • Episode 49: "Prairie Fires" with Caroline Fraser

    Caroline Fraser talks about her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  • Episode 51: "Bridging Two Eras" with Virginia Laas

    Virginia Laas discusses her book, Bridging Two Eras: The Autobiography of Emily Newell Blair, 1877-1951, and highlights the unique challenges of editing the writings of the noted feminist, suffragist, and political leader.

  • Episode 59: "Gender & the Jubilee" with Sharon Romeo

    Sharon Romeo discusses how freedwomen and enslaved women fought for their freedom and rights in Missouri during the Civil War.

Vertical Files

The vertical files contain magazine and newspaper clippings, handwritten information donated by patrons, bibliographies, programs, brochures, flyers, and other materials that, by reason of their physical formats, cannot be placed on the shelves with books. SHSMO's Columbia Research Center has numerous vertical files beginning with the subject heading “Women.” Several subjects, such as the Civil War, have “women” as a subtopic. There are also vertical files on numerous individual Missouri women. Ask a librarian or archivist for more assistance with these paper files.