Sarah Lucille Turner
One of the first women elected to
the Missouri House of Representatives —
ONE OF THE FIRST TWO WOMEN in the Missouri House of Representatives, Democrat Sarah Lucille Turner won election to the 52nd General Assembly from the sixth district of Jackson County, Kansas City, in 1922.
Turner was born on March 28, 1898, in Centralia, Ill. Later, the family moved to Kansas City, Mo. She worked during the day for Havens Structural Steel Company and attended evening classes at the Kansas City School of Law. She completed law studies in 1922.
Turner did not plan to seek a political office until some of the men in her law class voiced objections to women holding office. The youngest member of the General Assembly, Turner expressed an interest in legislation for women and children. Five of her bills were passed. Others bills she introduced pertained to the employment of children, increased appropriations for the state reformatory farm for women, and the licensing for boarding homes for children. Her most notable legislation designated the hawthorn as the official state flower.
Turner chaired the Children’s Code Committee, and she served as a member of the Civil and Criminal Procedure, Constitution Amendments and Criminal Jurisprudence, and the University and School of Mines committees. She favored better education facilities and increasing teachers’ salaries. Turner became the first woman to preside as the acting speaker of the House on March 16, 1923.