Founded in 1911 by suffrage clubs from Kansas City, Warrensburg, and Webster Groves, the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association (MESA) became a vehicle to demand women’s right to vote across the state. This handmade banner was likely carried in a St. Louis women’s suffrage parade on September 30, 1913. The demonstration began with a motorcade of thirty cars adorned with gold flags and patriotic music from a live band. After the procession ended, women marched through the city streets toward their headquarters on Franklin Avenue, where a few women gave speeches on soapboxes to a crowd. This demonstration reflected a shift in the movement. That year, MESA gathered over 14,000 signatures in support of a women’s suffrage bill for Missouri. Although defeated, the loss fueled the effort for the rest of the decade.
Missouri played an integral role in the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. In 1867, St. Louis local Virginia Minor founded the Woman’s Suffrage Association of Missouri, the first organization solely dedicated to the fight for women’s suffrage in the United States. Minor would rise to national prominence when she presented a new argument for women’s voting rights based on the 14th amendment at a St. Louis convention. Minor’s speech resonated with women across the country, encouraging many to join women’s suffrage efforts. Then, in 1916, the Golden Lane Parade in St. Louis gained national attention as suffragists, dressed in all white and holding gold umbrellas, engaged in a “walkless, talkless” protest in front of the National Democratic Convention. Missouri women’s efforts paid off in July 1919, when it became the eleventh state to ratify the 19th Amendment. With the right to vote, Missouri women, primarily those belonging to the middle and upper classes, used the power of the ballot to address societal problems across the state.
Subject: Missouri Equal Suffrage Association; Women's suffrage
Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society
Accession Number: 1925-002-0002
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Region: St. Louis Metro