Biography of Erma Stix, 1884-1969
By Dimitric Edwards and Annelise Wright, undergraduate students, Northwest Missouri State University. Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University
Erma Stix (formerly Kingsbacher) was born July 20, 1884, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Morris and Sophie Kingsbacher. From an early age, Erma expressed an interest in music, specifically the opera. This passion led her to Bryn Mawr College, where she graduated in 1906. In the same year, she married Ernest William Stix and relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. The couple had five children: Elizabeth, William, Ernest, John Morris, and Thomas. In addition to her children, she dedicated her life to women's suffrage with the Equal Suffrage League.
In 1912, Erma joined and later obtained a position with the Equal Suffrage League's Finance Committee. The organization struggled to establish itself in its infancy due to financial trouble. In her position, Erma collected the fees new members paid when they joined and worked to ensure the organization's continued existence.
Her work within the organization led to her being elected president in 1917. As president, Erma established the organization's role in selling Liberty Loans and War Saving Stamps and in supporting the Red Cross. In addition, Erma advocated for the organization to adopt a pro-suffrage stance at the federal level. She spoke about this with Jacob Meeker, a Missouri congressional representative who opposed women's suffrage. While unsuccessful in convincing Meeker to change his stance, she found success when she was selected as a member of a delegation of eight St. Louis women who were sent to Jefferson City to speak about women's suffrage. As the primary speaker, Erma presented five reasons as to why the Missouri Democratic Central Committee should endorse the Nineteenth Amendment. By a large majority, the Committee passed the resolution necessary to pave the way for ratification of the amendment in Missouri.
Due to an illness, Erma resigned as president in 1918, but she remained an active member in the organization, which changed its name to the League of Women Voters after securing suffrage with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. She lived the rest of her life in St. Louis until she died in 1969 at the age of eighty-four. Upon her death, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette referred to Erma Stix as “one of Missouri's early campaigners for women's rights.”
Photograph of Erma Stix, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri), 13 May 1968, p.41.
Photograph of Erma Stix, Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Mississippi) 21 September 1916, p.1.
Erma Stix appeared regularly in newspapers across the country, including: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Altoona Tribute, St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis Star. Her suffrage work has been highlighted by Katharine Corbett, In Her Place: A Guide to St. Louis Women's History (St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1999): p.196; John William Leonard, Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915 (New York: American Commonwealth, 1976): p.784) [LINK]; and, Margot McMillen, The Golden Lane: How Missouri Women Gained the Vote and Changed History (The History Press, 2011): p.109.