The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Women in Early Texas. Edited by Evelyn M. Carrington. (Austin: Texas State His-
torical Association, 1994. Pp. xxiv+321. Introduction, index. ISBN 0-87611-
142-8. $19.95, paper.)
Women in Early Texas, a collection of fifty short biographies, is the product of a
bicentennial project undertaken by the Austin Chapter of the American Associa-
tion of University Women. First published in 1975, the book was reprinted in
1994 with the addition of an introduction by Debbie Mauldin Cottrell which
contains a summary of the progress of women's history in Texas as well as an in-
valuable bibliography of books dealing with Texas women.
Most of the biographies in Women in Early Texas were written by descendants,
the rest by historians. The writing style varies, but all are well-written and some
are fine examples of short biography. One of the best is that of Maria Gertrudis
Perez Cordero Cassiano (1790-1832), who lived in San Antonio. According to
biographer Edith Olbrich Parker, when Maria was eighteen years old, a marriage
was arranged for her with the governor of Texas, Don Antonio Cordero y Busta-
mente, who was older than her father. For two years, she lived the life of a
queen, wearing precious jewels, entertaining visitors from around the world, re-
viewing the troops, and remembering to give alms to the poor. After Cordero
died in 181 o, Maria remained a widow for sixteen years. In her mid-thirties she
married a man her own age and two years later bore a son. Four years after that
she died at the age of forty-one.
The book has something of a broad scope in that at least sixteen ethnic
groups are represented; however, almost all of the women were members of the
middle and upper classes, and a large majority lived in the more densely popu-
lated parts of the state. The book's only weakness is the lack of a bibliography
for each biography. The writers did a great deal of research, often utilizing fami-
ly documents. Some of the papers may have been lost by now, but one hopes
that the American Association of University Women attempts to resurrect as
much of the research as possible and publish a third edition with a bibliography
for each woman profiled. Despite this one fault, Women in Early Texas is wonder-
fully entertaining and provides a wealth of information on life in early Texas.
Katy Jo ELLA EXLEY
Miriam, the Southern Belle Who Became the Fzrst Woman Governor of Texas. By May
Nelson Paulissen and Carl McQueary. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1995. Pp. 347.
Preface, acknowledgments, chronology, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-89o015-
971-8. $27.95.)
Miriam Amanda Ferguson, the first woman elected as governor of Texas, has
long presented problems for historians. Students of politics have had difficulty
viewing her apart from her husband and his controversial brand of populism.
Historians of women, meanwhile, have searched in vain to locate the faintest
feminist pulse in the woman who served as governor of the state from 1925 to
1927 and again from 1933 to 1935. Never completely obscured or forgotten,
"Ma" Ferguson nonetheless has received mostly superficial treatment. Thus, the

580o

April

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed December 28, 2014.