"In a world struggling toward peace and
a universal humanitarian regard for
mankind, there is no place for an aloof or
vision of the Handbook of Texas will
include new entries on dozens of Texas
women and topics relating to women's
"Isn't it great that all of these things are
just happening," said one young editor
at a meeting of historians discussing
the Handbook revisions.
Yes, it is wonderful.
quality of education for their children,
the safety of their neighborhoods, the
opportunities for happiness or fulfillment
and the enrichment of life for
others, as well as themselves.
If they saw a problem, they tried to
solve it. And if the solution to the
problem proved to be a contribution to
the well-being of others in their community,
and thus to their state, then so
much the better.
From around the turn of the century
until the early 1930's, Texas women
helped solve many of our state's public
problems-in education, prison reform,
child welfare, public health and
other areas. Although the deepening
depression in the 1930's and the total
absorption with the war effort in the
1940's reduced the numbers of women
who held public office in Texas and
limited their organized political involvement,
their public role did not
Their work in vital local community
projects continued to enrich the lives
of millions of Texans over the years.
The tradition of active community involvement
remained vibrant. But it
took another thirty years for Texas
women to bounce back politically. By
1972, the League of Women Voters,
the Business and Professional Women,
the Texas Women's Political Caucus
and other women's organizations had
secured the passage of an equal rights
amendment to the state constitution by
a four-to-one margin among voters in a
statewide election. And the Texas Legislature
even ratified the controversial
federal ERA amendment as early as
Texas has always been ahead of many
other states in passing laws to secure
the rights of women, and in recognizing
and rewarding capable women who
sought public office, or who worked to
influence the political process. That,
no doubt, has almost as much to do
with the quality of Texas men as it does
with Texas women.
And what has allowed Texas men to be
visionary enough to accept and welcome
strong Texas women into Texas
"It's the memory of those strong grandmothers
and great aunts who did what
they had to do to survive," says Liz
But no, it is not just happening.
It's been a long time coming. Helped
along, no doubt, by the popularity of
the Texas Women exhibit and the
genuine excitement generated by its
findings. Once this information about
women's role in Texas has finally been
publicized, it has become more and
more difficult for reputable historians
to ignore either the facts, or their probable
impact on our state.
Texas women's history is not necessarily
better than men's history. Women's
history is simply different. But to arrive
at an understanding of our entire
heritage as a people, it is necessary to
include the experiences of all of the
people. In Texas, we are at last beginning
to do just that.
Texas women have always worked side
by side with men-to survive and
thrive! And they had a great deal in
Our history, now beginning to be fully
documented, shows that Texas women,
as well as Texas men, had extraordinary
qualities of leadership. They saw
a problem, figured out what could be
done and did what was necessary to
make life better.
What has been missing is women's
knowledge of the importance of the
role they have actually played in making
Texas what it is today. They have
assumed they had no history. Fortunately,
that is not true. Texas women's
history is now "in". Within the past
year, we have seen conferences, articles,
books, lectures and activities all
across the state which focus on the history
of women. Even the upcoming re
Mary Beth Rogers, Assistant Treasurer
for the State of Texas, was formerly
the Executive Director for the
Texas Foundation for Women's Resources.
Ms. Rogers served as Project
Director for the exhibition, Texas
Women, A Celebration of History.
This historical exhibition resultedfrom
three years of extensive research involving
hundreds of volunteers, museums
and private foundations. Ms.
Rogers is the author of the catalog for
this exhibition entitled, "Texas
Woman, A Celebration of History."
Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 2, Number 2, Spring 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46809/. Accessed September 17, 2014.