Texas Women: Frontzer to Future. By Anne Fears Crawford and Crystal Sasse
Ragsdale. (Austin: State House Press, 1998. Pp. xiii+365. Acknowledgments,
preface, index. ISBN 1-880510-52-9. $24.95, cloth.)
Texas Women: Frontier to Future is a collection of twenty-four biographical
sketches spanning the period from colonization to the present. Some of the sub-
jects left lasting imprints on the state's history, while some, like writer Katherine
Anne Porter and actress Mary Martin, fall into the "famous women born in
Texas" category, and antebellum actress Adah Isaacs Menken can be claimed
only as a celebrated transient. There are a number of writers included-
Republic-era publicists Jane Storms Cazneau and Elise Waerenskjold, and mem-
oirist Harriet Ames Potter, whose tale of woe was both political and personal; the
professional and prolific Amelia Huddleston Barr (sixty-three novels), who was
in residence a few years before and after the Civil War, is no longer read, while
Sallie Reynolds Matthews penned a classic in her 1936 autobiography, Inter-
woven: A Pioneer Chronzcle, her only book.
The fine arts are represented by theater director Margo Jones, sculptor Allie
Victoria Tennant, applique artist Martha Mood, and collector Dominque de
Menil. There is a clutch of contemporary politicians: former big-city mayors Lila
Cockrell and Kathy Whitmire, state senators Judith Zaffarini and Cyndi Taylor
Krier (the latter now a judge), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and U.S.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. All began their political careers in the 1970s
and 1980s, taking advantage of opportunities created by the revival of feminism.
Their predecessors Eleanor Brackenridge and Jessie Daniel Ames opened the
way by campaigning for woman suffrage in the 191os and made their political
contributions through female voluntary associations. Frankie Carter Randolph,
who bankrolled the founding of the Texas Observer and served as Democratic
national committeewoman in the 1950s, represents the post-suffrage generation
of political activists. Other biographees are simply sui generis: chef and cook-
book author Helen Corbitt; historian and librarian Nettie Lee Bensen, who built
the Latin American collection at the University of Texas;journalist and syndicated
columnist Molly Ivins (who honed her style on the Texas Observer).
Written in Sunday newspaper supplement style, the essays are celebratory and
unanalytical; they lack the insight and incisiveness that comes from mastery of a
field. A list of references is appended to each, but there are no footnotes, leav-
ing the sources of the abundant quotations to conjecture. For contemporary
women who have not yet found biographers, the sketches are useful in bringing
together information from sundry scattered newspaper and magazine articles;
otherwise, readers will be better served by consulting the studies cited in the ref-
University of Houston-Vzctoria
Judith N. McArthur
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed May 27, 2015.