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Edna Fischel Gellhorn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Edna Fischel Gellhorn
Edna Fischel Gellhorn

Edna Fischel Gellhorn (December 18, 1878 – September 24, 1970) was an American suffragist and reformer who played a prominent role in founding the National League of Women Voters.[1]

Early life

Edna Fischel Gellhorn was born on December 18, 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father taught clinical medicine as a professor at Washington University and also helped co-found a hospital in St. Louis- Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital. Both parents were involved in the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis. Influenced by her parents, Edna was very involved in the St. Louis community and dedicated her time to civic work.[2] She attended the Mary Institute and Bryn Mawr College, and was the student president at each.[3][4] Upon graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1900, Gellhorn was elected lifetime president of her class.[3]

St. Louis/Missouri State Equal Suffrage Leagues & League of Women Voters

 The Golden Lane
The Golden Lane

Gellhorn was an officer in both the St. Louis and Missouri State Equal Suffrage Leagues from 1910, the year in which she joined, until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1919.[1]

At the 1916 national Democratic convention held in St. Louis, "The Golden Lane" represented thousands of women carrying yellow parasols and wearing yellow sashes lined both sides leading to the Coliseum. A tableau of the states was in front of the Art Museum: states with no votes for women, draped in black. In the front row were two little girls, Mary Taussig and Martha Gellhorn (Edna Fischel Gellhorn's daughter), representing future voters.[5]

In 1920, Gellhorn became the first vice president and one of the founders of the National League of Women Voters.[3] Gellhorn was asked to be the president of the National League by Carrie Chapman Catt, but declined.[1][4] Gellhorn also was on the National League’s board, was president of the St. Louis League for three terms, and was the first president of the Missouri League of Women Voters.[3][2] She was, however, elected to the League's state and national Rolls of Honor.[1]

Other reform efforts

Gellhorn was also active in other areas of reforms. She helped found and worked for the United Nations Association, the National Municipal League, and the American Association of University Women, and she was regional director of the food rationing programs during World War I.[3] Not only was Gellhorn involved in seeking equal rights for women, but she also made efforts to work towards achieving racial equality. In 1919, Gellhorn made the deciding vote in a vote held by the St. Louis League that would allow African-American women to serve on the board. Just two years later, Gellhorn, along with the rest of the league, left the Advisory Board, a collective of St.. Louis women's organizations, instead of editing the membership policy which would not allow African-American women.[2]

Legacy and death

In 1968, Washington University created the Edna Fischel Gellhorn Professorship of Public Affairs, a chair endowed by admirers.[3] At age 79, Gellhorn was selected as Woman of Achievement by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.[3] She died in St. Louis at the age of 91.

Some of her papers are held as the Edna Gellhorn Papers, held at the University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Washington University Libraries, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1061, St. Louis, MO 63130.[3]

Edna Fischel Gellhorn's daughter, Martha Gellhorn, was a journalist who is widely considered to be one of the most accomplished war reporters of the 20th century.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Corbett, Katharine T. (1999). In Her Place: A Guide to St. Louis Women's History. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 9781883982300. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  2. ^ a b c "The State Historical Society of Missouri". Edna Gellhorn. Retrieved 2016-09-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Finding Aid for the Edna Gellhorn Papers". Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  4. ^ a b Ferring Shepley, Carol (2008). Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 9781883982652. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  5. ^ "The Golden Lane, suffragettes at the 1916 convention". Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
This page was last edited on 19 April 2018, at 17:32.
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