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Courtesy State Historical Society
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Feb 2012 Cover
This story was in the February 2012 issue of Missouri Life magazine, which was featured in the 2014 Ben Affleck movie Gone Girl.
By Lauren Licklider
What a monumental task! There are so many, many women who influenced not only our state, but also our country, and some influenced the world. These were women who challenged the status quo, who built business empires, and who understood the value of giving back to their communities.
We knew it would be difficult to winnow our 95 nominations to the top 10. Our own staff cut down to about 30, and then we invited a special group of women who today lead the way in their own respective fields: artists, business owners, educators, a lawyer, a senator, and even a state forester. Together, these industry leaders pared down to the top 10 who influenced our state. We present them here in no particular order.
Even our panelists were taken aback and surprised by the achievements of women in our state’s history: “I just can’t believe I didn’t know about her,” was a common refrain. Rhonda Vincent, a noted bluegrass performer from Kirksville, said, “I’ve learned so much from this whole process about the women of Missouri, stuff I never learned in school.” Another surprise: Many of these women are not exactly household names and are never taught in Missouri history classes.
Maybe we can help change that.
We didn’t use any formal selection criteria. The only criterion we maintained was that the women must no longer be living. (We figure living women still need to stand the test of time.) But we kept asking ourselves these three questions: Did she leave a lasting impact on the state of Missouri? How significant were her contributions? Did she achieve or accomplish something unique?
Let us honor the dedication, innovation, and perseverance of these historic women who changed our state for the better, and let us never forget the fights they fought, the stones they turned, and the trails they blazed.
Click any of the following to read their biography and find out how they changed changed Missouri:
- Annie White Baxter
- Susan Blow
- Gerty Cori
- Jane Froman
- Edna Gellhorn
- Annie Turnbo Malone
- Nell Donnelly Reed
- Louise Stanley
- Helen Stephens
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing our Top 10 Women of Missouri, featured in the February 2012 of Missouri Life and selected by our panelists. To read our panelists’ bios, click here. For a full list of our 95 nominees for Top 10 Women of Missouri, click here. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life magazine.