March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate all women both past and present, the Old Courthouse hosts special programs and events that spotlight St. Louis’ nationally significant, local women's history. In particular, this month’s programs honor Virginia Minor, a suffragist who made history by suing for the right to vote at the Old Courthouse in 1872.
Mrs. Minor and her husband Francis Minor moved to St. Louis prior to the Civil War, and together they originated the nationwide movement of challenging voting restrictions in the U.S. In 1867 Mrs. Minor helped found the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri, which was the first organization in the world to make its exclusive aim that of enfranchising women – preceding even the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1872, Mrs. Minor attempted to register to vote but was refused by St. Louis’ sixth district registrar because she was female, which prompted her and her husband to file suit. The Minors quickly lost their case in the lower court, but ultimately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, therefore making their case one of two nationally significant cases heard first in our Old Courthouse. Although the judicial system ultimately failed to protect Mrs. Minor and her rights, the example she set and the sacrifices she made led to momentous events which changed our country forever.
We hope you can join us this month at the Old Courthouse for the following events:
Women’s History Scavenger Hunt
Daily, March 1-31.
Visit the Old Courthouse’s exhibit galleries and complete the Women’s History scavenger hunt, a fun way to connect with famous women in St. Louis’ history. All ages are welcome.
Virginia Minor Portrait Painting
Saturdays, March 11, 18 and 25; 1 pm-3 pm. Not available March 4.
Join Park Ranger and professional artist Tony Gilpin to contribute to an oil painting of Virginia Minor, a pioneering suffragist whose lawsuit for the right to vote shaped the history of our nation. Supplies will be provided.
Reenactment of the Virginia Minor Trial
Saturdays and Sundays, March 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, and 26; 2 pm. Not available March 4.
Visitors are invited to participate in a scripted reading of the 1872 case Minor v. Happersett, taking on roles as the judge, members of the jury, plaintiff, defendant and attorneys of the Virginia Minor case. Participants will determine whether women have the right to vote. Program lasts about 45 minutes.
Celebrating Virginia Minor
Saturday, March 25; 11 am-3 pm.
A living history reenactor reveals how suffragist Virginia Minor made history by suing for the right to vote at the Old Courthouse in 1872. With her 193rd birthday on March 27, we will celebrate Mrs. Minor with a birthday party at noon, complete with birthday cake.