Phoebe Jane Ess

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Author: 
Kelsey Carls
University of Kansas

Fondly remembered as the “dean of Missouri club women,” Phoebe Jane Ess was an active and energizing force in Kansas City public life during the many years she lived there (1872-1934). Passionate and outspoken, she brought to bear the courage of her convictions on a variety of contentious issues of the day. Ess was a staunch advocate of women’s suffrage, a strong supporter of Prohibition, and she demanded educational reforms for the children in her community. She also worked alongside other like-minded activists to root out corruption in local politics at a time when machine rule dominated Kansas City. Over the course of her long life, Phoebe Jane Ess worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Kansas Citians. Notably, she was a model reformer at a time when women’s sphere of influence generally did not reach beyond the walls of the home. 

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.