Less than 100 years ago, Texas women were not allowed to vote in any local, state, or federal election. From the first proposal in 1868 until the turn of the century, various short-lived efforts attempted to push the movement to the forefront, but it was not until the spring of 1913 that an effective state level organization was formed.
While many of the most powerful women concentrated in major urban areas, smaller towns like Tyler (Smith County) also created Equal Suffrage groups, hosted speakers and movies, circulated petitions, raised funds, and sent delegates and lobbyists. Once women received their right to vote in Democratic primaries, they sponsored educational forums and pushed women to register and pay their poll taxes. It was a hard seven-year fight, but in 1920, women’s suffrage became a reality on the national level with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and women in small Texas towns had done their part.
Celebrate Women’s History Month with Vicki Betts for a gallery talk on the Texas suffrage movement that highlights Tyler (Smith County), beginning at 1 p.m. in the visitors center. Following her presentation, refreshments will be available and a time for questions and informal discussion.
Betts has been a librarian at Texas Eastern University/The University of Texas at Tyler for 36 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from East Texas State University and a Masters in Library Science from North Texas State University. Betts has published a book on Smith County during the Civil War, two book chapters dealing with Texas women during the Civil War, and scholarly articles in local and regional history journals. She has recently been developing an interest in Progressive Era life in Texas.
There will be two door prizes at the conclusion of the gallery talk for copies of the publication, “Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas,” an essay by A. Elizabeth Taylor with photographs and documents.
The exhibition will be available to the public through March 23, 2014. For additional information, or to arrange group visits, call 254.472.0959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The exhibitions are organized by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Limestone County Historical Museum.