A Texas Historical Marker honoring the role of Dallas women in achieving full suffrage rights for Texas women was dedicated October 14, 2010, outside the Dallas County Old Red County Courthouse. The marker is located in front of the 1892 Dallas County Courthouse, also known as the Old Red Museum.
The first attempt at organizing for women’s suffrage in Texas occurred in 1893 when the Texas Equal Rights Association (T.E.R.A.) was formed at a convention held in Dallas. The Dallas Equal Suffrage Association (DESA) was formed twenty years later, in October 1913, to support the cause of women’s suffrage in Texas. Many of the women active in the movement were a part of previously formed suffrage organizations. Margaret Bell Houston, daughter of Sam Houston Jr., was the organization’s first president.
By 1917, the organization was over 600 members strong, many of whom were helping to support the war effort in Dallas. In March of 1917, DESA conducted a three-day “Suffrage School” that was meant to educate the public on the benefits of women’s suffrage. During the 1918 Texas gubernatorial campaign, members procured the signatures of 10,000 Dallas County women on a petition that backed a primary suffrage bill. It passed and allowed women to vote in primary elections, two years prior to national female suffrage. Over 16,000 women registered to vote in the July 1918 primary elections.
DESA eventually merged with the League of Women Voters of Dallas in 1919. On June 28, 1919, Texas became the first southern state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that gave women the right to vote nationwide. A Texas historical marker honoring the women who fought for suffrage was dedicated in 2010 outside the Dallas County Courthouse.