Women's Role in Missouri History, 1821-1971

from the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1971-72
James Kirkpatrick, Secretary of State


"In studying the history of Missouri, we must pause to pay tribute to two men, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who were commissioned by the President to explore this new land.  All along the routes they took, we've marked the trails with their names to honor their bravery.  But just in case you might have forgotten, it was Sacajawea...a woman...who showed them the way."

This conclusion to a speech made by Mrs. Warren E. Hearnes, First Lady of Missouri, never fails to bring laughter, but also, perhaps the rueful acknowledgment that the names of few women are mentioned in the historical records of our state.

A writer commissioned to summarize the achievements of women in Missouri's 150 years of statehood and earlier pre-state status, might leap to the superficial judgment that there would be too few to mention.  On the contrary, research turns up the fact that there are far too many to include within the limitations of this volume, and suggests, perhaps, that women may feel that history should be rewritten to emphasize their accomplishments.  Their achievements have been great but one must search the footnotes, the pamphlets, the records to find them.  In the major history books, they are unrecognized or relegated to a brief summary chapter about "women".

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