St. Louis Women's Suffrage History
Kate Richards O’Hare, one of the speakers at the Women’s Independence Day rally outside the St. Louis (Old) Courthouse downtown on May 2, 1914. The event was part of the campaign leading to the November election, when Missouri’s male voters soundly rejected extending the vote to women. O’Hare, a socialist, lived in St. Louis at the time. She later was imprisoned in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City for opposing the United States’ entry into World War I. Missouri History Museum image
Officers of the Equal Suffrage League of St. Louis in their first office, at 915 Olive Street, in 1912. Missouri History Museum image
A scene from a suffrage rally outside the St. Louis (Old) Courthouse downtown on May 2, 1914. Later that year, Missouri’s male voters refused to extend the franchise to women. The statewide vote was nearly 2-to-1 against, and was 3-to-1 against in St. Louis. One reason given was that brewery workers were afraid women would vote for Prohibition. Missouri History Museum image.
The main formation of the Golden Lane demonstration was assembled on the steps of the old Art Museum, at 19th and Locust streets, on June 14, 1916. Leaders of the suffrage event wore white, gray or black to depict states in which women had full voting rights, partial rights or none at all. As delegates to the Democratic National Convention passed by, they tipped their hats. Missouri History Museum image.
Women taking part in the Golden Lane, a silent demonstration along Locust Street on June 14, 1916, opening day of the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis. Delegates stayed in hotels downtown and had to walk to the St. Louis Coliseum, at Jefferson and Washington Avenues, where the convention was held. More than 2,000 women dressed in white and holding yellow parasols stood along Locust as the delegates passed. Suffrage leaders had insisted that the women say not a word, a silent protest. Missouri History Museum image.
Suffragists in St. Louis gathered to begin a campaign tour in 1916. Missouri History Museum image.
Members of the Missouri League of Women Voters assemble for a meeting in the Statler Hotel, 822 Washington Avenue, on Sept. 9, 1920, three weeks after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote. One year before, the American Suffrage Association had met in the same hotel and, sensing victory at last, proposed creating the League of Women Voters. The hotel now is part of the Renaissance Grand Hotel on Washington. Post-Dispatch file photo.
Edna Gellhorn of St. Louis (center, back row) with officers of the national League of Women Voters in 1920. She was its original national vice-president and the first president of the state.
Florence Wyman Richardson, first president of the Equal Suffrage League of St. Louis, founded in her home at 5737 Cates Avenue on April 8, 1910. The organization led the suffrage movement in St. Louis leading up to ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote for women.
Edna Gellhorn, a leader the Equal Suffrage League chapters for St. Louis and Missouri, in a photo circa 1920. Gellhorn’s home at 4366 McPherson Avenue was the starting point for a motorcade to commence Women’s Independence Day events on May 2, 1914, and she was a leader of the Golden Lane demonstration during the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis in June 1916. Shortly before the 19th Amendment became part of the constitution, suffrage leaders formed the League of Women Voters to educate women on their new right. Gellhorn was the original vice-president of the national league, and first president of the Missouri chapter. Post-Dispatch file photo.
Edna Gellhorn, Lifetime Suffragette
Edna Gellhorn was born to privilege in St. Louis in 1878. She attended Mary Institute here and Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, and returned home to work on social causes, including standards for safe milk and water.
She joined the Equal Rights League of St. Louis when it formed in 1910. Her home at 4366 McPherson Avenue was the starting point for a suffrage-campaign motorcade and rally on May 2, 1914. She was a leader of the Golden Lane demonstration during the 1916 Democratic National Convention in St. Louis and president of the state suffrage organization.
Shortly before women won the vote in 1920, suffragists created the League of Women Voters. Gellhorn was first president of the Missouri chapter and vice-president of the national organization.
She remained active and, at age 75, said, “I’m glad I was born in a time of stress. I’m glad to have lived through it. And I have infinite faith in the future. She died in 1970 at age 91 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.