The Missouri Independent Suffragette Society (MISS) is bringing the women’s suffrage movement out of the history books and into the streets.
Dressed in period clothing, the group’s first public event will be the Wentzville Fourth of July parade. Women will be wearing suffragette sashes and carrying signs promoting women’s right to vote, not to mention ankle-length skirts and elaborate hats.
“I love history and dressing up,” said Sabrina Pullen of Lake Saint Louis. Pullen is a member of MISS and the Living History Company, a networking resource for living history re-enactors. She looks forward to “spreading a bit of education in a fun way.”
While some MISS members have created costumes by altering modern items found in thrift shops, Pullen sewed her costume from a vintage pattern. Having worked behind the scenes of the St. Louis Renaissance Faire for several years, she is familiar with historical theater.
In May, LHC members created MISS to honor the suffrage movement and to celebrate the upcoming centennial of the 19th Amendment. Passed by Congress in 1919, the amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Some MISS members joined the LHC specifically to participate in suffragette activities.
“I joined MISS because I wanted to honor the women who fought for the rights I have today. And I wanted my daughter to know about the struggles women have had to be considered equal,” said Tricia Grissom of Wentzville.
Women aren’t the only ones bringing the subject to life.
“Men can play a number of roles. We know that some men supported the movement,” said a founding member of LHC, Lou Griggs of St. Peters.
“And on the opposite side there were the guys completely opposed to it and were vocal about it. That’s my character,” Griggs said. “The loud, anti-cause guy who is dead against it but whose wife is marching anyway so he’s going to march along and harass the group the whole way. Not that that’s my real nature but it will show part of what the ladies had to deal with. And it makes good theater.”
Lou is ready to shout remarks such as “You gotta be daft to want to give women the vote. Next thing you know, they’ll have an opinion and heaven only knows where that would lead.”
MISS is accepting new members and is planning upcoming activities such as a suffragettes’ tea and an appearance at the Walk Back In Time festival in Mexico, Missouri in September.