WOMENS SUFFRAGE IN DALLAS COUNTY
The first organized effort on behalf of women’s suffrage in Texas occurred in May 1893, when the Texas Equal Rights Association (T.E.R.A), later known as the League of Women Voters of Texas, was formed at a convention held at Dallas’ Windsor Hotel. Of the forty-eight charter members of the organization, fourteen were Dallasites. In October of that year, T.E.R.A. leaders helped to organize the Texas Woman’s Congress, which met at the State Fair in Dallas. During this period, a weekly suffrage column, entitled “Women in Public” was published in the Dallas Morning News. Suffrage advocates continued their work into the 20th century. On March 13, 1913, forty-three Dallas women gathered to establish the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association (D.E.S.A.), which became the League of Women Voters of Dallas in October 1919. Many of the women had participated in previous suffrage organizations; younger members were eager to contribute to the cause. The group elected Margaret Bell Houston Kaufman, granddaughter of Sam Houston, as its first president. During World War I, D.E.S.A. officers served as leaders in local wartime organizations while continuing to advocate the cause of women’s suffrage. During the 1918 Texas gubernatorial campaign, members of D.E.S.A. procured signatures of over 10,000 Dallas County women on a petition backing a primary suffrage bill. The bill passed, enabling Texas women to vote in primary elections. Dallas County suffragists registered over 16,000 women to vote in the July 1918 primary election. The nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowed women to vote on August 26, 1920. This act was the culmination of years of struggle and effort put forth by the suffragists of Dallas County and the nation.