Biographical Sketch of Florence Wyman Richardson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Florence Wyman Richardson, 1855-1920

By James Christensen and Mackenzie Burton, undergraduate students, Northwest Missouri State University. Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University

Florence Wyman Richardson was an integral member of the suffrage movement in the state of Missouri. She was born on March 24, 1855, in St. Louis and died on August 19, 1920, also in Saint Louis. Florence was involved in an early suffrage group led by Virginia L. Minor.  Florence joined this group in 1882 and worked with them to petition the state legislature to raise the age of legal consent.  Florence went on to play a key role in the suffrage movement in the St. Louis area.

She helped to form the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League with ten other women from the St. Louis community in 1910.  This was the first major suffrage group to be created in the state of Missouri. Among the ten women involved in this group's formation was one of Florence's daughters, Florence Wyman Richardson Usher, who also is remembered as an important suffragist in Missouri. At the first meeting, Florence was elected the president of the new organization by the sixty women present at the meeting. The following year, the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League and two other groups created a statewide organization called the Missouri Equal Suffrage League. Florence became president of the statewide suffrage league, along with her leadership of the St. Louis group. She worked at both the state and local levels, presenting a number of lectures for people in the area and worked to educate them on the suffrage movement.  

In 1913 Florence transitioned out of both of her leadership positions, and her daughter took over as a key leader. While Florence was no longer in a leadership role, she was still involved in the push for women's suffrage. In 1915 in the New Republic journal she published an article that offers insights into her motivations and her fight for suffrage. Florence wrote about how men should prepare for the revolt of wives and encouraged women to get involved in the suffrage movement. Just a little over five years later, and the same year that suffrage was passed on the national level, Florence passed away at the age of sixty-five. Florence made numerous contributions to the suffrage movement and is still remembered today as an important figure in the Missouri suffrage movement.

Photo in Mrs. Charles P Johnson, "Early Symphony Society Worker and Founder of Piano Club Was Also One of Missouri Organizers of Equal Suffrage Movement," St. Louis Star (St. Louis, MO), Feb. 2, 1913.

Sources:

Florence Wyman Richardson's important role in the middle and later periods of Missouri women's suffrage is explained by Florence Atkinson in “Middle Ages of Equal Suffrage in Missouri,” Missouri Historical Review, V. XIV no3.4 (1919): 299-306 and by Aletha Somerville Grossman in “The Part of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League in the Campaign for Equal Suffrage,” Missouri Historical Review V-XIV, no.3-4 (1919): 306-20. In her later life, Florence Wyman Richardson explained her own motivation in “The Revolt of Wives,” New Republic, 3:31 (1915): 122-23. Additional information is available in her daughter Florence Wyman Richardson Usher's scrapbook at the State Historical Society of Missouri in their St. Louis Research Center.

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