Women’s activism and “dog a la mode”

Published November 6, 2014 by Kirsten Delegard

Electoral politics can be frustrating. But every campaign season also provides a reminder of how voting is a sacred trust, secured through long struggle and great sacrifice. In Minneapolis, the women who were part of the 72-year struggle for female suffrage clearly gave up some of the critical comforts of life for the cause, as this hand-written menu shows.

Should a suffragette find herself downtown in 1911 and in need of nourishment after a morning of committee meetings, she could dine at the Suffragette Lunch Room, which was likely located in suffrage headquarters in the Essex Building. At a time when respectable women had few places they could lunch without a male escort, the Suffragette Lunch Room made it possible for middle-class women to remain downtown for a full day of activism. Without keeling over from hunger. And without being condemned as jezebels (or at least not for their lunch choices).

This menu makes it clear that these committed women did not take time away from their activism for the preparation of food. The fare at this pop-up restaurant was spartan. Diners could feast on potato salad and “dog- a la mode” (which I take to mean sausage instead of canine). They could dress their “dog” with beans, chili sauce, ketch-up and pickles. Buns and “sinkers” were listed separately. To wash it down, the women could choose either ice water (listed twice) or a demi-tasse of tea.

suffragette lunch room menu

Lunchroom habitues were admonished with two other reminders:

“No intoxicated persons admitted.”

And, finally: “Watch your hat and coat.”

This menu is from the collection of the Hennepin History Museum. My thanks to Susan Larson-Fleming for drawing it to my attention.



This entry was posted in Stories.