The Library is well aware of the importance of women to the history of Davenport—without them, our library wouldn’t exist—so in honor of this year’s National Women’s History Month, we thought we’d mention some of the Davenport women who were included in the city’s Who’s Who for 1929.
Or, as the Davenport Democrat called them on March 10th of that year:
“[I]ntrepid little slips of femininity “invading”a man-made business and professional world a few years ago.”
But before we take offense at the patronization of the past, the editors of the paper were all in favor of women doing any work for which they were suited. They reminded readers of the simple fact that “a woman’s brain can absorb as much “higher education” as a man’s.”
It’s clear from the remainder of the article—not to mention our local histories—that the women of Davenport didn’t need reminding; they’d known that for years.
And most of the “intrepid little slips of femininity” hadn’t waited for everyone else to catch up:
- By the time the article was published, Lottie Bois Clapp had been a mortician for 17 years.
- Mrs. Inger Estes had been a Davenport policewoman for seven.
- Lura Parker had served as deputy clerk for the Federal Court for at least five.
- Ellanor Parker had been teaching classes in Parliamentary law throughout the country for several years.
- Hermione C. Schneckloth had been Scott County Superintendent of Schools for eight.
- Dr. Blanche A. Jones, the city’s only female dentist, had been practicing for thirteen years in her offices on the third floor of the Central building.
- Dr. Nellie Campbell wasn’t the first woman to practice medicine in Davenport, but at the time of the article, she’d been the only licensed female physician doing so for several years.
- Mrs. E. H. Dierolf, the city’s first female pharmacist, was one of the four women registered by the state at that time.
- Davenport also boasted several osteopathic physicians, including Dr. Augusta Tuckers, Dr. Mary Jane Porter, and Dr. Margaret Harrison—and Dr. Mabel H. Palmer was professor of anatomy and the secretary treasurer of the Palmer School of Chiropractic.
- Maud Streicher had already served her apprenticeship and was a full-fledged carpenter, working on roofs and framing residential expansions.
- Jacqueline Gasser had already become the first female licensed Real Estate Agent in the city.
- And Ella Stahmer Bauer had already retired from the CEO position of the F. J. Stahmer Shoe company, the largest manufacturer of wooden shoes in the country, by the time the Democrat’s reporters came calling. The young woman told them that she’d stepped down to the co-manager’s position so she would have more time to start a family.
We can’t deny that the women of this country have come a long way since their “slips of femininity” days.
But it makes us especially proud to know that the women of Davenport were already paving the road.
Davenport City Directories, 1915-1930.
“Dentist, druggist, parliamentarian, chief! Busy? Decidedly so! These Davenport jills select a diversification of all trades and professions.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, 10March 1929, pp. 23 and 25.
Who‘s who in Davenport 1929, including who‘s who in Moline and who‘s who in Rock Island : biographical sketches of men and women of achievement. (Louisville, Ky. : Robert M. Baldwin Corp.), c. 1929