Women's Role in Missouri History, 1821-1971

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

Who's Who
Women of Achievement
University's Top 100


Who's Who

More than 200 Missouri women were listed in the first edition of Who's Who [of] American Women, published in 1959 and more are added with each succeeding edition.  Those in the first list included artists such as Belle Cramer, Aimee Schweig, Mildred Bailey Carpeter, Lillian Thoele; teacher Jennie Wahlert; scientist Dr. Mildred Trotter; psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Gildea, business woman Irene McCabe, lawyer Irene Dulin, church leader Mrs. Elbert Starn, Mrs. Arthur Compton and Phyllis Diller.

Several select women have appeared in the big Who's Who in America which lists very few women.  Among them are Beatrice Adams, advertising executive, national Advertising Woman of the Year, whose brainchild, the Gridiron Dinner has been St. Louis's top fund raising event for cancer research.  Louis Knapp, nurse, and Liselotte Dieckmann, teacher, also are listed in Who's Who.

Member of religious orders make news today in a way different from those of the pioneer era yet often basically the same in their human commitment:  Sister Mary Isidore, hospital administrator; Sister Francetta who headed the Women's Job Corps; Sister Jacqueline Grennan who headed Webster College [now Webster University] and later, after her marriage, headed Hunter College in New York state.

Missouri women have held national and international club honors.  Mrs. Lucile Mauntel, Washington, Mo., was president of the National Federation of State Garden Clubs.   Mrs. Holton Price, Ladue, headed the Girl Scouts, Mrs. Mildred Planthold Michie, Piney Park, the National Federation of Press Women.  Dr. Harriette Yeckel, Kansas City, is president-elect of Zonta International.

Women of Achievement

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat started its tradition of honoring Women of Achievement in 1956.  Among the first ones in a long parade of distinguished women were:  Miss Margaret Hickey, public affairs editor of the Ladies' Home Journal and head of her own business school; Miss Helen Manley, pioneer in social health education, Mrs. Irving Edison, civic leader; Mrs. Edward M. Harrison, Mrs. Edwin M. Clark, Mrs. Richard A. Bullock, Mrs. Herman Koppelman, and - in a field by herself - Mrs. Leonor K. Sullivan, only woman member of Congress from the State of Missouri.

There are no women in our State Senate but there have been many women members of the House of Representatives.  At present, those holding office are Mrs. DeVerne Calloway, Mrs. Edna Eads, Mrs. Gladys Marriott, Mrs. Jewel Kennedy, Mrs. Mary Gant, Mrs. Dorothy Meagher, Mrs. Orchid I. Jordan, Mrs. Minnie Weber, and Mrs. Pat O'Connor.

The University's Top 100

In Columbia, Stanley Hall is named for home economist Louise Stanley, who once taught at the University.  In 1967, the University observed the 100th anniversary of the admission of women (a "bold and hazardous step" at the time) and paid tribute to its outstanding women, past and present.  Its first faculty members were Mrs. C. A. Ripley, Mrs. Mary Brice Read, Miss Alice Orear; its first graduates, Mary Louise "Lulu" Gillett who received her N. G. (Normal Graduate) degree in 1870, and Eliza Gentry who received hers in 1871.

At the same time the University named its 100 outstanding women graduates, an impressive group which included Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Michigan, Army Colonel Lane Carlson, and Avis Green Tucker, who has since been named President of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, the first woman ever to hold that position.

Others on the long list were:  Mary Paxton Keeley, first woman graduate of the School of Journalism; Reba Staggs, Marie Larkin, Esther Replogle, Mrs. Harry E. Wuertenbacher, Br. Lois Wyatt, Mrs. Mary Alice Parrish, Dr. Geneva Drinkwater.

Where to start and when to stop when it comes to naming women of Missouri who have made names for themselves?

A few of them are:  Mrs. Joseph Bastian, first woman member of the St. Louis Junior College board; Mrs. Eric Newman, who devised a number of ingenious fund raising projects, among them the Flea Market, Book Fair, Scholarshop and Camelot auction; Mrs. David Wohl, philanthropist for whom the Jewish Community Center Association named its Carlyn Wohl building in St. Louis County; Mrs. C. Oscar Lamy and Mrs. George McCalpin, Catholic volunteer leaders; advertising women like Joan Van de Erve, Joan Gardner, Jeanne Dunaway, Pat Mansfield, Stella Chaney Brown; Mrs. Meyer Waldman, who, out of heartache, built up the Fern Waldman Memorial Fund to fight leukemia; Mrs. Albert Toma who started the Christmas Carolers Association; Mrs. Adeline Ruenzi, blind worker; philanthropist Blanche Frank Ittelson; National Garden Club leaders Mrs. Hazel Knapp and Mrs. William Hedley; civic leaders Mrs. Robert Neill Jr., Mrs. C. Johnson Spink and the late Mrs. Alexander Langsdorf. Mrs. Fern Wilder, who brought famous artists to Joplin for many years, Mary Adrianne Steckling, New York designer known as Adri, who grew up in St. Joseph.


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