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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

May 1, 2023

A woman arrived in St. Louis in 1818. She was, in fact, a nun and a teacher. She came here to do good and to start up some schools, but she soon came across something that she felt needed to be addressed for the good of her female students. Just press play to hear the whole story. ———

Click on search links to see if there are episodes with related content: Katie Moon, Women's History, Education, Children, People of Note, Religion, ———

Podcast Transcript: I’m Katie Moon, Exhibits Manager at the Missouri Historical Society, and Here’s History on eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X. ———

Most St. Louisans are familiar with the story of Sister Rose Philippine Duchesne, one of the first Catholic nuns to arrive in St. Louis in 1818 with the purpose of educating children in the area. She opened schools in St. Charles, Florissant, and the city of St. Louis before traveling to Kansas to work with Native Americans, her lifelong dream. Over 150 years later, she was canonized as a saint by Pope John Paul II. ———

As someone who dedicated her life to the church, it's easy to assume that Sister Duchesne spent her days in prayer and contemplation, unfazed and untouched by the frustrations of daily life. But that assumption would be wrong. In a letter from the Missouri Historical Society’s archives, Sister Duchesne writes to the Mayor of St. Louis, William Carr Lane, and expresses her horror at what her female students must deal with on a daily basis—walking by men and boys swimming in the creek near the school—a creek that also happened to be on Lane’s property. Public swimming was a whole different experience before swimsuits hit the scene, and she wasn’t having it. ———

She writes, “I have recourse to your authority for the redress of an abuse which I look upon as very much against the welfare of our establishment. You know, Sir, that our young ladies, day scholars, have to pass the creek that runs all around our house. The warm weather invites a number of men and boys to swimming in the creek, and every day our young ladies meet with that disagreeable sight, both coming [to] and leaving the house; and as I understand that some regulation of court forbids swimming in public places, I suppose that it is merely by some negligence of the sheriffs in discharge of their duty that it takes place. As you are Sir, the father of an amiable family I need not say how much that rudeness is against the delicacy of sentiments we strive to endow our young ladies with, and I am convinced that you will be so good as to use your power to remove that obstacle.” ———

Needless to say, Lane took care of the problem. ———

Here’s History is a joint production of K-D-H-X and the Missouri Historical Society. I’m Katie Moon, and this is eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X, St. Louis.  ———