By Elizabeth Eikmann
Last week I ventured to the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the oldest Universities in the city. I stopped in to visit their Special Collection to discover all kinds of rare images and objects related to suffrage in St. Louis!
One wonderful source I uncovered was the collection of diaries of William Greenleaf Eliot, a founder of the University, St. Louis city civic booster, Reverend, Professor, and very outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage… And he was all these things in the 1860s and 70s! He is one of the small group of men of agency and influence during this time in St. Louis history with surviving record of supporting the developing suffrage movement.
In his diaries there are record of him being invited to attend suffrage meetings, some of which he did and others where he wrote a speech to be read at the meeting in his absence, which he then had published in local newspapers.
I also explored the papers of Edna Gelhorn, an active suffragist and later President of the St. Louis chapter of the League of Women Voters. I uncovered telegram records between her and Carrie Chapman Catt, well-known suffragist activist and founder of the League of Women Voters and President of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and her “Honor Roll” certificate of recognition for her dedication to the suffrage movement and political activism.
There were also some wonderful images from Gelhorn’d 85th birthday celebration, which took place at the St. Louis League’s headquarters in the Central West End (a St. Louis neighborhood). Check out those awesome posters hanging in the background!
On my way out of the library one day, I happened upon this awesome “mini”-exhibition: true in every sense, as the display was dedicated to miniature books! Reading Shakespear is hard enough, never mind trying to do it in 3 point font!
My journey also took me to the Mercantile Library, the oldest library in the city of St. Louis. There I found a book The Minor Family of Virginia, a genealogy dive of the Minor family published by a descendant in 1922. There I found mention of both Virginia Louisa Minor and Francis Minor. This source was invaluable in tracing their own family history…I discovered that Francis Minor’s parents were first cousins and that he is the second cousin of the father of Virginia (who will later become his wife). They’re also both related to the Meriwether and Lewis families (of the Lewis and Clark fame!).
This was a tough one to look through…everyone shares the same last name, names their kids after ancestors, and even…gives their kid the same first and last name! How confusing! (See number 4 on this list…Minor Minor…oh, my!)
In the coming weeks, I’ll dive back into the genealogy of the Minor family to (hopefully!) discover Virginia and Francis’s descendants, continue work at the Mercantile library, and pay a visit to the State Historical Society.