Trick or Treat for Democracy

For Halloween the Social Sciences Librarian chose to dress as a "Golden Lane" suffragist, honoring the women who made inroads toward universal U.S. suffrage when they gathered in St. Louis from around the country in 1916 to stage a protest at the Democratic National Convention. Dressed all in white with yellow sashes, the ladies silently (but reproachfully) lined Locust Street, the path the male conventioneers took from their hotel, in what came to be known as the "Golden Lane". The Democrats included a women's suffrage plank in the 1916 platform and eventually the 19th Amendment was passed (Missouri was the 11th state to ratify) and white women, at least, were able to vote.

At St. Louis Public Library you can check out The Golden Lane, the book about that event and the women who made suffrage a reality (#Dewey 324.6230977). The book includes a chapter on Virginia Minor (1824-1894), whose identity the Librarian adopted for the day (even though she was no longer around for the "Golden Lane"). Mrs. Minor sued (with her husband/in his name, as she could not bring suit as a woman) for the right to vote in the presidential election and their suit went to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled unanimously against the Minors in 1875. She was the first president of the St. Louis Suffrage Association when she died she left half of her estate to Susan B. Anthony "in gratitude for the many thousands she has expended for women" and the remainder to two unmarried nieces with the instruction that if either married, her share would revert to the unmarried niece.

Of course true universal suffrage would not be achieved until much later in the 20th century when African-Americans were finally able to vote after the hard-won fight for civil rights. For information regarding the Black women's suffrage movement, see African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn at #Dewey 324.623089.

For your further edification and/or entertainment, please see this list which includes the referenced books and other resources available at St. Louis Public Library, a 2015 article from the Columbia Journalism Review exploring the difference between the terms "suffragist" and "suffragette," and from Disney's Mary Poppins (DVD available at St. Louis Public Library, along with book, e-book & audiobook), the classic "Sister Suffragette" - and please, remember to VOTE!


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