Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Christine Biddle Blair Graham, 1852-1915
By Keely Danielsen and Chandler Eastwood, undergraduate students, Northwest Missouri State University. Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University.
Christine Biddle Blair Graham led a life dedicated to charity and fighting for women's rights. She was born on April 5, 1852, to Francis and Appoline Blair in St. Louis, Missouri, and died on March 8, 1915, also in St. Louis. Christine generously supported the growing St. Louis suffrage movement as well as other organizations. She was likely influenced by her parents who were leaders in the community and were charitable to the less fortunate. Christine held several important positions within the Equal Suffrage League of Missouri and had the opportunity to host and work with national leaders of the movement. She was a strong advocate of women's suffrage and worked toward the enfranchisement of women until the end of her life.
Christine was an integral member of the Equal Suffrage League of Missouri. She was appointed treasurer of the finance committee in 1914. In that position, she held meetings at the Syndicate Trust building, the League's headquarters in St. Louis, to discuss raising funds for the League. She organized funds both to support the League as well as to extend the charity of its members to worthy causes. Some projects that she completed include creating a paid membership to the League and organizing a fund to send comfort kits to soldiers stationed in the French trenches during World War I.
Through her own wealth and status, Christine supported charitable organizations within the St. Louis community. She, among others, donated the site for the building of a hospital for children. Her financial contribution to the project covered half of the cost of operation for the year following the hospital's opening. She also donated a gift of a Caen stone reredos, or an altar screen, to Christ Church Cathedral. The beauty of the stone reredos was said to equal the historic scenes of English cathedrals, and the cost of the project was such a considerable expenditure that it was largely kept secret.
The services that Christine provided as treasurer for the Equal Suffrage League of Missouri were complemented by her status on the League's board of governors. The League invited Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, a prominent advocate for temperance and women's suffrage, to speak in 1914 in St. Louis during her campaign tour of the West. Christine hosted Dr. Shaw during her three-day stay in the city. Although her death the following year in 1915 at the age of sixty-two prevented Christine Graham from being able to witness the fruits of the suffrage movement, her actions advanced the cause, and she was a key component to the advocacy of women's suffrage in St. Louis and across the state of Missouri.
- 1: Image of Christine Graham's gravestone in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92009805/christine-biddle-graham
- 2: Article about Christine Graham's WWI comfort kits to soldiers. "Will Send Kits to Soldiers," St. Louis Post Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) Feb. 17, 1915.
- >3: "Dr. Anna Shaw to Talk on Suffrage at Odeon Tonight," St. Louis Post Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) Oct. 16, 1914.
- 4: "Reredos Presented to Christ Church Cathedral by Mrs. B.B. Graham, Excels in Artistic Beauty and Brilliance of Conception Even the Historic Altar Screens of Europe," St. Louis Post Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) Jul. 23, 1911.
Information about Christine Biddle Blair Graham's suffrage involvement, her contributions to charities, and her family history can be found in the newspaper St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Further details of her contributions to the suffrage cause can be found in "History of Woman Suffrage in Missouri," edited by Mary Semple Scott, Missouri Historical Review XIV:3-4 (April-July, 1920): 305. Information regarding her birth and death date can be found at bellefontainecemetery.org. Additional material on Christine Graham appears in the National American Woman Suffrage Association's The History of Woman Suffrage (New York: J.J. Little & Ives Company, 1922): 347.