Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001 Page: 35
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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against the persistent argument that women did
not really want the vote.
Barry Miller was better than his word. Not
only did he vote for the primary suffrage bill, but
he later agreed to chair the legislature's woman
suffrage caucus. The bill passed 84-34, and won in
the Texas Senate I8-4. On March 26, I918, Governor
Hobby signed it into law.9 Texas women
thus gained partial suffrage before the Nineteenth
The next step was to get women registered
to vote, and because of a legal technicality, the
suffragists had to work within a tight schedule.
The primary suffrage bill had won by too small a
margin to qualify as an emergency measure, so
the new law would not take effect until June 26,
ninety days after passage. The registration deadline
for new voters was July ii, leaving only seventeen
days to register thousands of women.
Expecting at least the Io,ooo who had signed the
petition to Barry Miller, the Dallas County Tax
Collector's office assigned eight deputies to register
the new voters.20
For what amounted to a separate campaign
to get women registered, the suffragists organized
by school districts. Each school district had
a committee of five women who went through
the residential neighborhoods to contact homemakers
and mothers with young children. The
telephone committee called each woman who
had signed the petition to Barry Miller; the automobile
committee sent cars to drive women to
the courthouse to register. A special committee
distributed handbills-"SOS Appeals to Register"-wherever
women worked, in the mills,
factories and plants, department stores, business
offices, banks, and schools. Women who were
not DESA members came to help. A young
social worker personally took six to eight millworkers
to register at the courthouse each
Stories in the MorningNews marveled at the
numbers of women in their eighties and nineties,
some needing help to walk into the courthouse to
join the voter registration lines. The oldest was
97, and her grandsons were then in the American
army in France. One elderly woman told a
reporter that she had lived for this day since the
Civil War. Daughters brought their mothers;
young mothers brought their children, who clustered
about their skirts as they filled out the registration
cards. A farmwife listened carefully to
the instructions, then remarked that she did not
expect voting to be "as complicated as men make
The totals were available by July 14. At
I6,816, the numbers were higher than county officials
had projected, and higher even than the suffragist
goal of I5,000. Numbering almost 9,ooo
fewer than the male voters already on the rolls,
the registered women were 51 percent of the eli
Once Texas women gained the right to vote in the Democratic
Party primary in I9i8, suffragists mounted a vigorous
campaign to get women to register andpay their poll tax.
DALLas MORNING NEWS cartoonist John Knott depicted the
domestic implications in this drawing.
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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; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/37/: accessed November 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.