8 Female Hipsters of Missouri History

11, January 2017

Though hipster is a modern term, independent, out-of-the-box thinkers have been defying norms for ages, and that’s especially true of women. Might they be the original hipsters? These ladies—dressing how they want, working where they want—make a pretty solid argument for yes.

1. Ladies Who Work

Sepia-tone photo of women workers outside Star Clothing ManufacturingA group of female employees on the front steps of Star Clothing Manufacturing Company Factory No. 3, ca. 1910–1920. Missouri History Museum.

Break time or quittin' time for these ladies? Many women felt liberated and empowered by working in factories to help the war effort and provide for their children.

2. Gondola Girl

Sepia-tone photo of a woman rowing a gondola at the 1904 World's Fair.Gondola Girl, 1904. Photo by Official Photographic Company. Missouri History Museum.

Gondola Girl, the only name by which we know her, provided revelers at the 1904 World’s Fair with an elegant means of transportation.

3. Biker Chick

Black and white studio photograph of Mrs. Minnie. She's balanced on her bike facing the left of the camera. In front of a backdrop.Minnie Walden-Starke, 1897. Photo by Frank Starke. Missouri History Museum.

Anything you can do, she can do better: Minnie Walden-Starke won first prize in her class as Best Appearing Wheel Woman. And she did it without a Livestrong bracelet.

4. Horsing Around   


A photo of a woman on horseback holding a gun in front of a home.Woman holding a rifle in front of an unidentified rural home, ca. 1940. Photo by Russell Froelich. Missouri History Museum.

Maybe think twice before telling this woman to head to the kitchen.

5. Monkey Business  

Black and white photo of a woman in a dance costume eating banana slices with two monkeys.A woman in a dance costume eating banana slices with two chimpanzees from the Saint Louis Zoo, ca. 1920–1930. Photo by W. C. Persons. Missouri History Museum.

Hey, elbows off the table! When it comes to dining etiquette here, who taught whom?

6. The “New Woman”

Image of a woman reading a newspaper while a man does housework.A woman reads a newspaper while a man does housework. Photo by Keystone View Company. Missouri History Museum.

Although meant to be satirical, this photo, titled The New Woman, speaks to the fight for women’s equality. Here's hoping she sat in that chair reading for the rest of the day!

7. The Original Pink Ladies

Black and white photo of young women drinking and smoking at a slumber party.A group of young women drinking and smoking at a slumber party, 1924. Photo by Block Brothers Studio. Missouri History Museum.

This crew knew how to throw a sleepover! The kids in the front are questionable though.

8. Skater Gal

Vertical sepia photo of a woman in a hat ice-skating in the park. A woman ice skates in a park, ca. 1910–1920. Photo by Carl Michel. Missouri History Museum.

Watch out, boys, she's comin’ in hot!

—Anna Edwards, Communications Intern

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