Elyssa Ford is an associate professor of history at Northwest Missouri State University, and her research centers on memory and identity, women's history, and public history education. Ford's forthcoming book is Rodeo as Refuge, Rodeo as Rebellion, and she has related articles in Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion and the Pacific Historical Review. She has written on women’s suffrage for the Missouri Historical Review and National Park Service. Her work on public history pedagogy has examined academic-community partner relationships, the value of local history to promote student engagement, and the potential and problems that rural museums face.
Soothing the "Savage Hearts of Man": Women's Suffrage and Rural Missouri
Though often ignored by the national and eastern organizations, women’s suffrage groups in the Midwest learned by the late 19th century that rural areas also must be targeted to win the hearts and minds of the electorate. Historian Elyssa Ford will focus on how rural women in Missouri played an important role in the suffrage movement. From Kirksville in the far northeast to Maryville in the far northwest, rural communities engaged in suffrage discussions, invited national speakers who bewitched–and sometimes enraged–local audiences, and supported their own suffrage workers. Within this world of Missouri suffragists, Ford will highlight the compelling story of Maryville’s Alma Nash and her all-women band who traveled to Washington, D.C., for the national women’s suffrage parade in 1913. Through their actions at the parade and at home in the Midwest, it is possible to see how a small group of young, rural women engaged with the suffrage movement and how they were shaped not just by the national suffrage discussion but by the local and often heated suffrage debates within their community.