Women's Suffrage in Dallas County Historical Marker.
Dallas Suffragette Marker dedicated in 2010
Margaret Bell Houston, the first president of DESA, and her only child circa 1910
Political cartoon supporting women's suffrage in Texas published in 1917
Backstory and Context
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.
2 Enstam, Elizabeth. Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920. Dallas, Texas. Texas A&M University Press, 2002.
3 Historical Plaque Honors Dallas "Suffragettes". League of Women Voters of Dallas. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://www.lwvdallas.org/dallas_suffragists.html#s02.
4 Historical Plaque Honors Dallas "Suffragettes". League of Women Voters of Dallas. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://www.lwvdallas.org/dallas_suffragists.html#s02.