Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001 Page: 31
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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gists conducted their campaign mostly indoors,
this in a time when the customary restrictions on
women's access to public spaces were breaking
down. The rapid rise of female employment, the
success of department stores and other businesses
intended specifically for female customers,
women's own growing impatience with social
limitations-such changes in American society
were part of the suffrage movement's foundation.
Nonetheless, the suffragists in Dallas chose to
camouflage their demand for the vote beneath
conventional appearances. They held rallies and
"mass meetings" in the city hall auditorium, but
reserved outdoor activities for customary social
gatherings and public celebrations. When the
Dallas suffragists took their message out-ofdoors,
in other words, they did so as participants
in local popular culture at community events.
On April 9, I917, for example, a contingent of
about fifty suffragists marched-as suffragistsin
the city's Patriotic Parade to express support for
the United States entry into World War I.
Instead of "Votes for Women," however, their
banner read, "Men Of America, We Will Do Our
Share."s Participation in citywide events was central
to the suffragist strategy of being a part of
community life. To a southern population,
marching in a suffrage parade seemed like something
Yankees and Englishwomen would do. A
display of patriotism, by contrast, was acceptable
for "ladies," even when it involved "public display."
The campaign for woman suffrage began
here on March 15, I913, when forty-three women
met in a private home as the Dallas Equal Suffrage
Association (DESA). White and well educated,
they belonged among the most privileged
of the city's residents. The majority were young
matrons with school-age children, and several
were daughters or nieces of the officers and
members of the Texas Equal Rights Association
of I893-96. A few were single and college-age;
others were middle-aged veterans of the women's
club movement and themselves former members
of the earlier suffrage effort. These older suffragists
also had years of experience in working for
social reform, and many of the younger women,
Margaret Bell Houston (Mrs. Mark Kaufman when she
lived in Dallas), first president of the Dallas Equal Suffrage
Association (1913-14) and her only child, Katherine,
photographed around I9rO.
too, came from families with traditions of female
involvement in community life: their mothers
were still active in civic organizations in Dallas.6
The DESA's first president was Margaret
Bell Houston Kaufman, recognized throughout
her long life (I876-I966) as Sam Houston's
granddaughter. Married to a Dallas businessman
and broker, Mrs. Kaufman would, in later years,
win prizes for her poetry. She also wrote mysteries
and adventure-romances, a number of
which were successful in several foreign countries,
as well as the United States. The Dallas suffrage
association grew to 200 members by June,
but Mrs. Kaufman's administration was some
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001, periodical, 2001; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/33/: accessed March 29, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.