Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Jessie Lansing Moller, 1877-1951
By Brianna Daniels and Alexander Meyers, Undergraduate Students, Northwest Missouri State University. Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University
Jessie Lansing Moller was born on December 1, 1877, in St. Louis, Missouri to Louis and Addie Marshall Moller. She had a very good relationship with her family and lived with them well into adulthood as she never had a family of her own.
Because of her father's success as the president of the Rapp-Moller Carriage Company, Jessie was able to afford higher education and go to business school. She ultimately did not finish and instead lived and worked as a secretary for the Western Union Telegraph Company for 38 years. In the middle of her career, she spent one year in 1913 as the first female parole officer in St. Louis.
Jessie was, by her own admission, not a militant suffragist. While her evolution into a suffragist was a gradual process, she stated that her birth as a female made it inevitable. She also cited her education as a force that drove her to embrace suffrage. However, reading the book Woman and Labor by Olive Schreiner was the watershed moment in her development. Jessie was quite active throughout the 1910s in advocating for suffrage and women's rights. Over the years, Jessie involved herself in various groups. One such group was the Business Woman's Suffrage League, which Jessie Moller and Mary McGuire founded in 1912. The Suffrage League marched several times in order to rally for woman's suffrage. On one occasion, Jessie and the members of the Woman's Suffrage League walked four hours through cold and muddy weather to rally in Belleville, Missouri.
Alongside her participation in various clubs throughout St. Louis, Jessie was an integral part of the Town Club. She was one of the founders as well as an early president of the club, which served as an organization of and for businesswomen in the city. They worked to improve, encourage, and support the civic, business, and social affairs of St. Louis, especially as they concerned women. Her tenure as president was over by 1918, most likely due to her move to Chicago.
After 1932, Moller retired from Western Union Telegraph Company at age 55. During her retirement, she continued to pursue a variety of interests. For instance, she was assistant dean of women at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, for a number of years. After decades of serving society in one way or another, Jessie died of pneumonia at her sister Florence's house on December 18, 1951.
Photograph of the board meeting at the first headquarters of the Equal Suffrage League of St. Louis.
Moller, Jessie Lansing. “Why I Became a Suffragist.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 5, 1914.
The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis) Feb. 26, 1913, p.7
Jessie Lansing Moller details her own motivations and work in “Why I Became a Suffragist,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri), March 5, 1914. Her suffrage work is further explained in Missouri newspapers, including: The St. Louis Star and Times, The Oregon Daily Journal, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is highlighted alongside other suffragists in Ida Harper and Susan B. Anthony's The History of Woman Suffrage Vol. VI. (Indianapolis: The Hollenback Press, 1922). [LINK]