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Annie White Baxter, a ‘political trailblazer’ to be inducted into Hall of Famous Missourians

  

About 30 years before women were able to vote in Missouri, Annie White Baxter was already making history: In 1890, she was the first woman elected to public office in Missouri and the first female county clerk in the U.S. 

On Wednesday, Baxter will become the ninth woman inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians. House Speaker Elijah Haahr, alongside the Women’s Foundation, will unveil a bronze statue to honor the Missouri pioneer. 

Annie White Baxter (COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI STATE ARCHIVES)

“My daughters will grow up in a country enjoying the right to vote and hold office because of trailblazers like Annie White Baxter,” Haahr told The Missouri Times prior to the event. “While she is known across Southwest Missouri, it’s time for the state and the nation to remember her name, and I’m excited to be inducting her into the Hall of Famous Missourians.” 

Baxter was a clerk in Jasper County where she oversaw elections. She also served as the state registrar of lands and as the financial secretary of the 1922 Missouri Constitutional Convention. 

“Annie White Baxter is remembered as a political trailblazer not only for Missouri but for U.S. history,” Wendy Doyle, the Women’s Foundation president and CEO said. “This month marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, a monumental time in history and of great significance for Annie White Baxter since she oversaw elections when she didn’t have the right to vote. I’m thrilled she is getting the recognition she rightfully deserves.” 

The induction on Aug. 26 is also commemorative as it’s Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment.

Born in Pittsburgh, Baxter moved with her family to Carthage, Missouri, in 1876. She worked as a deputy clerk for a few years before she was nominated for county clerk at the Jasper County Democratic Convention. Legal questions arose about whether she could hold the seat — since women could not yet vote — but she was elected and prevailed in court. 

Baxter died at the age of 80 and was laid to rest at River View Cemetary in Jefferson City. 

(COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI STATE ARCHIVES)

Aside from Baxter, the other women included in the Hall of Famous Missourians are Josephine Baker, actress and human rights activist; Susan Elizabeth Blow; founder of the first public kindergarten in the U.S.; Betty Grable, actress; Rose Philippine Duchesne, founder of the first free school west of the Mississippi; Sacajawea, who accompanied Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their expedition; and Laura Ingalls Wilder, a venerable author. 

The bronze bust of Baxter was sculpted by Spencer Schubert. Donations from Jasper County residents and the Women’s Foundation — which has worked to recognize Missouri women’s contributions to the state — funded the project.