Jane Yelvington McCallum House
Jane Yelvington McCallum was one of the most prominent leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in Texas. Jane McCallum lived in this house with her husband and their five children. As a member of the Texas Joint Legislative Council, nicknamed the Petticoat Lobby, she worked for political and social reform through the Texas legislature. She was appointed to the office of Secretary of State in 1927 by Governor Dan Moody and was reappointed in 1931 by Governor Ross Sterling. While in office she discovered and had preserved an original signed copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Backstory and Context
Jane Yelvington McCallum was born in La Vernia, Texas on December 30, 1877, to Alvaro Leonard and Mary Fullerton Yelvington. She attended school in Wilson County and Dr. Zealey’s Female College in Mississippi from 1892 to 1893. She studied at the University of Texas for four years between 1912 and 1924 but never received a degree. She married Arthur McCallum Sr. in 1896 and they eventually moved to Austin, where he served as the school superintendent from 1903 to 1942. The couple had five children together, one daughter and four sons.1
Jane McCallum first entered politics by campaigning for women’s suffrage and prohibition. In 1915 she became president of the Austin suffrage association and began years of lobbying for the right to vote, giving pro-suffrage speeches, and writing for two local newspapers, The Austin American and Austin Statesman. During World War I, as the chairman of the Liberty Loan Drive, she led Austin women in raising nearly $700,000 for the war effort yet they still did not have the right to vote.2
After the ratification of the 20th amendment, she concentrated on political reform. She headed publicity efforts for the League of Women Voters of Texas and served as executive secretary of the Women’s Joint Legislative Council. The Petticoat Lobby as it was often called was a coalition of six statewide women’s organizations that lobbied for education bills, prison reforms, prohibition control, maternal and child health, and eradication of illiteracy and child labor.3
In 1926 she led the Petticoat Lobbyists in campaigning for Daniel J. Moody’s bid for the position of governor. After his win, Moody appointed her Secretary of State in January 1927, and she retained the position under Governor Ross Sterling from 1931 to 1933. This made her the only person in Texas history to hold the position under two governors and for more than two terms. In 1927, shortly after taking the office, she discovered in the State Capitol an original copy of the Texas State Declaration of Independence. Her restoration and displaying of the Declaration became one of her proudest moments in the office she held.4
During the 1950s, Texas Parade published some of her works, including excerpts from her unpublished manuscript “All Texans Were Not Males.” After leaving the political arena she participated in numerous organizations including the Texas Fine Arts Association, the American Association of University Women, the Colonial Dames of America, the League of Women Voters, the Austin Shakespeare Club, and the Austin Women’s Club. On August 14, 1957, Jane McCallum died and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. She is remembered for her lifelong dedication to giving women a voice in the political process and making sure that their voice was heard.5
2Humphrey, Janet G. Jane Yelvington McCallum. Women in Texas History. Accessed December 04, 2016. http://www.womenintexashistory.org/audio/jane-y-mccallum/.
3Duncan, Roberta. McCallum, Jane Legette Yelvington. Handbook of Texas Online. June 15, 2010. Accessed December 04, 2016. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc07
4Duncan, Roberta. McCallum, Jane Legette Yelvington. Handbook of Texas Online. June 15, 2010. Accessed December 04, 2016. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc07
5Texas Originals: Jane Y. McCallum. Humanities Texas. Accessed December 04, 2016. http://www.humanitiestexas.org/programs/tx-originals/list/jane-y-mccallum.