Missouri Women’s Role in History as Changemakers

Since its founding, the Missouri Division of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has concentrated on a variety of topics related to the status of women and girls. Advocacy, education, and philanthropy continue to be their three main areas of focus. Each year, the AAUW of Missouri hosts a Regional Convention to discuss topics of history, legislation, leadership, culture, and contemporary issues related to women. The 1989 Convention was held in Kansas City, MO with the theme “Missouri Women’s Role in History as Changemakers”. Programs, lectures, speeches, and performances focused on the often unrecognized and unvalued role of women in frontier America.


At the convention, Missouri Humanities Council sponsored the performance entitled “Hardship and Hope: Heroines in Life and Art”. This live presentation was made in costume for attendees of the banquet dinner. Using reference materials of diaries, letters, and newspaper articles, the two performers portrayed frontier women of the 19th and 20th centuries. They highlighted the work and leisure of women as mothers, daughters, wives, teachers, journalists, and more. Following the performance, there was a lively discussion between the actresses and the audience. The 150 conference participants were inspired by the narrative of frontier women’s patience and stamina as they made a difference in the world.