In Recognition of Texans Who Worked for Equality
In less than 200 years Texas has evolved from a fledging republic to one of the most powerful states in the Union, and easily the most recognizable of them all. Texans have witnessed and fought in the struggle for independence and peace on the frontier and continue to make strides toward racial and gender equality.
The State Archives hold documents and photographs that are integral to documenting our state's social and political history, illustrating the heroic efforts of early Texas settlers, the consequences of Indian and Mexican conflicts, demands for civil rights for African-Americans and Tejanos, and the campaign for women's suffrage.
Our collective future depends upon our ability to preserve and re-examine these records of the past, so that we may see how much closer we have come to equality and what challenges remain.
Texas Women Secure the Vote
Association, 1895. Erminia Thompson Folsom papers,
Women have struggled for equal treatment under the law throughout the history of the United States. The fight for personal agency, equality and power has required women to transform the world around them but also to redefine their own roles. Texas women have approached this challenge with their own sense of mission, through activism and using the platform of women’s organizations. Women were not wholly unified in their efforts, and divisions were often reflective of broader conflicts over race, class, and belief systems.
The passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, established a fundamental component in the ongoing evolution of women as citizens. With the power to vote, women could cast their collective eye on directly shaping policies and issues that mattered to them and to the nation.
Our 2019 lobby and online exhibit Women’s Power, Women’s Vote celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, which was approved by Texas on June 28, 1919, making it the ninth of the needed 36 states for national approval. This exhibit explores the motivations behind and evolution of this struggle. The personal collections of Texas women and government records document this history through original pamphlets, correspondence, photographs, organizational records, legislation, artifacts, and audio recordings.
The 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution after Tennessee became the 36th state to approve the measure. Women’s suffrage thus took effect August 26, 1920.
Experience the struggle for women’s suffrage through Texas archives. Letters and speeches by suffragists and anti-suffragists, newspaper articles, campaign materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and artifacts tell the stories of the movement in context. Explore related exhibits and digital collections online and learn more about where to find the papers of the individuals and groups that defined the era at the links below.
Sen. Barbara Jordan as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate,
March 29 or 30, 1972. Current Events Photographic Documentation
Program collection, Image 1972/155-12.
Rep. Frances “Sissy” Farenthold, Texas House of Representatives chamber,
March 1972. Current Events Photographic Documentation Program
collection, Image 1972/174-20.
Collections and Exhibitions Related to Women’s Suffrage: A Texas Sampler
- Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes
https://degolyer.omeka.net/exhibits/show/women2020/introduction (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)
- To Vote
https://austin.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=8a1262763ed9459c9b78b26a65228b21 (Oakwood Cemetery Chapel, Austin)
- Houston Women Cast Their Ballots: Celebrating 100 Years of the Right to Vote
https://www.heritagesociety.org/exhibits (The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park)
- 100 Years of Progress
https://exhibits.lib.uh.edu/s/100-years/page/welcome (University of Houston Libraries)
- Sister Suffragists: A Celebration of the Suffrage Centennial
https://www.thestoryoftexas.com/visit/exhibits/sister-suffragists (Bullock Museum)
- "The Right to a Voice in the Affairs of Their Own Government": The Women's Suffrage Movement in El Paso (UTEP Library)
- Women’s Suffrage in Texas: The Fight for Voting Rights in the Lone Star State
http://www.dallashistory.org/suffrage-in-texas/ (Dallas Historical Society)
- Women’s Power, Women’s Vote
- Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas
https://www.humanitiestexas.org/exhibitions/list/by-title/citizens-last-woman-suffrage-movement-texas (Humanities Texas)
Search Texas Archival Repositories Online (TARO) for related collections
- Christia Adair Collection MSS.0017 An Inventory of her Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
Repository: African American Library at the Gregory School
- Belle Christie Crichtett Papers MS386
Repository: University of Texas at El Paso, C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections
- Jane Y. McCallum Papers An Inventory of the Collection
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
- League of Women Voters of Texas collection, Inclusive: 1948-1981, undated, Bulk: 1954-1973
Repository: Baylor University, The Texas Collection
- Ida M. Darden Collection: An Inventory of Her Papers at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library
- Jessie Daniel Ames: An Inventory of the Jessie Daniel Ames Papers at the Texas State Archives, 1919-1928, 1936, 1939-1940, after 1944, 1965, undated
Repository: Texas State Archives
- Hermine Tobolowsky: An Inventory of Her Papers, 1932-1995 and undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library
Repository: Texas Tech University Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library
- Nikki Van Hightower Papers, 1967-1997
Repository: University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections
- A Guide to the Austin Women’s Suffrage Association Records, 1908-1915
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Center for American History
Women's Christian Temperance Union Scrapbook: A Guide
Repository: University of Texas Arlington Library, Special Collections
- A Guide to the Woman's Club of San Antonio Records, 1892-2016
Repository: University of Texas San Antonio
Tejanos Demand Inclusion in the Republic of Texas
While Tejanos—Texans of Mexican descent—were an important faction in the fight for independence in 1836, the Texas Revolution was largely led by Anglo American immigrants. In the new Republic of Texas, Tejanos found that they constituted a subordinate minority of the population.
1970/101-503, Fannie Ratchford photograph collection.
Only three of the 56 men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, were Hispanic. Two were Tejanos—José Antonio Navarro and his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz. The third was Lorenzo de Zavala, a Mexican liberal who had recently moved to Texas. Zavala went on to serve as the vice president of the republic.
Throughout the time that Texas existed as a republic, only four Tejanos from the Bexar district ever succeeded in gaining election to the Texas Congress. These were Navarro, Ruiz, Juan N. Seguín, and Rafael de la Garza. Language differences and limited educational and economic opportunities further contributed to the marginalization of Tejanos.
Laws of the Republic of Texas were predominately written and disseminated in English, thereby excluding those who spoke and understood only the Spanish language. Seguín's efforts in the Texas Congress led to the passing of a bill that assured the translation of laws into Castilian Spanish.
Muster rolls provided proof of militia service to the Republic of Texas by Tejano men. The one featured here was created by the captain of the company, Antonio Menchaca, as a result of the frustration experienced by many Tejanos in their attempts to claim pensions for their service.
Juan N. Seguín wrote a letter in support of José Almeda's pension claim for service to the Republic of Texas. Almeda served at the Siege of Bexar.
Political underrepresentation continued when Texas formally joined the Union in 1845. Navarro, the only Tejano delegate to the constitutional convention, aggressively fought against early drafts of the constitution that sought the disenfranchisement of the Tejano community.
Guides to archival collections with materials related to early Tejano demands for inclusion:
Memorials and petitions, Texas Secretary of State, 1836-1937. Card file. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. These records are also available through Ancestry.com as Texas, Memorials and Petitions, 1834-1929. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/ancestry
This database contains petitions and similar correspondence made to the State of Texas. They include requests for action on civic matters and for aid. You might find documents addressing town incorporations, judicial district changes, appropriations, stock laws, liquor levies, requests for bridges, poor relief, divorce, permission for free blacks to settle in the state, and myriad other items.
Republic pension records, Texas Comptroller's Office claim records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:
Republic Claims - https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/repclaims/repintro.html
The Republic Claims series of Comptroller's records includes claims for payment, reimbursement, or restitution submitted by citizens to the Republic of Texas government from 1835 through 1846. It also includes records relating to Republic pensions and claims against the Republic submitted as public debt claims after 1846. The files include supporting documents such as vouchers, financial accounts, military records, receipts, notes, or letters.
Texas Adjutant General’s Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:
Army papers - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30002.xml
These records include correspondence, reports, orders, legislation, President's proclamations, certifications, contracts, bonds, powers of attorney, letters of credit, receipts, requisitions, vouchers, invoices, IOUs, promissory notes, bills, abstracts, statements, accounts current, returns of public property, returns of ordnance, estimates of funds required, statements of appropriations, inventories of stores and munitions, receipt rolls for employees, bills of lading, lists of notes and monies due, bank drafts, travel vouchers, and lists of stoppages. This subgroup comprises the army correspondence of the Republic of Texas, and records of each of the departments under the Secretary of War: Quartermaster, Subsistence, Ordnance, Purchases, Medical, and Pay, and the Commission for Fortifying Galveston Island. Records date 1835-1846.
Navy papers - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30003.xml
These records include correspondence (letters, reports, jacket covers, transcripts, and a journal), requisitions, receipts, invoices, bills, vouchers, surveys of damaged supplies, returns (of provisions, slops and small stores, ships equipment and furniture), statements of disbursements, accounts current, claims, suspended claims, receipt rolls for the payment of advances, invoices of merchandise purchased and shipped, IOUs, statements of purchases at auction, estimates of funds required, registers of Treasury Certificates issued to officers and men for services in the Navy, auditors certificates (letters of credit), abstracts of provisions and cash received, abstracts of suspended vouchers, statements of travelling expenses, and abstracts of claims. They comprise navy correspondence, pursers' records, and other financial records created by, for, or because of the Navy of the Republic of Texas. Dates covered are 1835-1847, 1852, 1855 (bulk 1836-1846).
Ranger records - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30027.xml
These comprise the records of the various military organizations known—formally or informally—as "Texas Rangers": Republic Rangers (1839-1846), pre-Civil War Rangers/Mounted Volunteers/Minute Men (1846-1862, and undated), Minute Men (1865-1866 and 1872-1874, undated), Frontier Forces (1870-1874), Frontier Men (1874), Frontier Battalion (1874-1901), Special State Troops/Special Force (1874-1881), and Ranger Force (1901-1935, thereafter administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety). Records include correspondence, monthly returns, scouting reports, records of arrests, and quartermaster records, dating 1839-1975, undated, bulk 1854-1918.
Republic of Texas military rolls - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30072.xml
These records consist of muster rolls, payrolls, receipt rolls, and lists of officers and/or men, for the various military and para-military organizations of the Republic of Texas. They date 1835-1846, and undated. Except for some of the Republic rolls which were drawn up after the fact, these military rolls were compiled at the time, usually by the company commanders. The information contained on the rolls varies considerably.
Texas Secretary of State’s Office records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:
Department of State election returns - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30102.xml
The only duty of the Secretary of State specified by the Constitution of 1836 was to receive "returns of all elections for officers who are to be commissioned by the President" (General Provisions, Section 2). These records include election returns, voter lists, poll lists, resignations, notifications of death, appointments to fill vacancies, and associated correspondence. They comprise the county-by-county returns of general, special, and contested elections for Republic of Texas offices, district offices, and county and occasionally municipal offices, plus elections for constitutional and other issues (e.g., annexation of Texas into the United States). Dates covered are 1835-1845.
General correspondence of the Department of State, Republic of Texas - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30181.xml
Domestic correspondence, home letters, and correspondence relating to domestic affairs were all created and/or collected by the Texas Department of State, later office of the Secretary of State, during the normal course of business (mostly excluding diplomatic and consular business), and document the non-diplomatic functions of the Department of State of the Republic of Texas, and the Secretary of State's office of the State of Texas. The records date 1822-1859, undated, bulk 1835-1846.
Executive record books - https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/30057.xml
Each constitution of the State of Texas has required the Texas Secretary of State to keep a fair register of all official acts and proceedings of the Texas Governor and to provide these to the legislature when required. Types of records contained in executive record books include correspondence (mostly outgoing) of the Presidents of the Republic of Texas and Governors of the state, primarily with other Texas and U.S. officials; inaugural and valedictory addresses; executive messages; Indian treaties; proclamations; appointments and resignations; passports; pardons and remissions; extraditions; rewards; reports of state agencies; etc. Some Department of State (later Secretary of State) records are also present, consisting primarily of election returns. These records comprise the executive record books maintained by the Texas Secretary of State, dating 1835-1917.
Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro documents. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Photocopies of documents pertaining to Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro of Bexar County, Texas, including legal depositions, the will of Alexander LeRay de Chaumont (accepted by Navarro), and an itemized bill for provisions. The original records were created in 1837, 1840 and 1844. Navarro was a leading Hispanic participant in the Texas revolution.
Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Collection consists of photocopies and typescripts of legal papers and correspondence of Jose Antonio Navarro. The original records are dated 1837-1853.
Juan N. Seguin papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Collection consists of correspondence, military rolls, bills of lading, a biographical sketch and a clipping relating to Juan Seguin, Republic of Texas political and military affairs, and the Second Regiment Texas Volunteers, dating 1836-1840, 1872, 1917.
Texans Fight for Civil Rights
On June 5, 1950, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Heman Sweatt and opened the door for him to register at the University of Texas School of Law the following fall. Sweatt’s case was an important step in overcoming state segregation of public universities and helped paved the way for the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka verdict, which ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
The state of Texas operated segregated universities, and African Americans were only allowed entry if a “separate-but-equal” alternative for black students was not available. In response to the Sweatt lawsuit against UT, the state established in 1947 the Texas University for Negroes in Houston as such an alternative. Sweatt and his attorneys took his case to the United States Supreme Court as an argument against segregation.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission preserves the archive of the state government of Texas and collections of Texas public officials. See below for a list of resources related to Heman Sweatt and his court cases.
Guides to archival collections with materials related to Heman Sweatt:
Texas Attorney General Price Daniel records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10264.xml
Texas Governor Price Daniel records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10282.xml
U.S. Senator Price Daniel papers. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10267.xml
Records, Texas Governor Beauford H. Jester. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10240.xml
Campaign files, Records, Texas Governor Allan Shivers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10245.xml
Records, Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/10266.xml
Publications in the Commission’s library collections:
Barr, Alwin, and Robert A Calvert. Black Leaders: Texans for Their Times. Austin, TX: Texas State Historical, 1994. [TSLAC Call#: 920 B561]
Lavergne, Gary M. Before Brown: Herman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. [TSLAC Call#: Z UA380.8 L388BE]
Painter, Theophilus S., Heman Marion Sweatt, and Price Daniel. In the Supreme Court of the United States. October Term, 1949. No. 44. Heman Marion Sweatt, Petitioner, v. Theophilus Shickel Painter, Et Al., Respondents: Brief for Respondents. United States: publisher not identified, 1949. [TSLAC Call#: 378.764 P166I]
Shabazz, Amilcar. Advancing Democracy African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014. [TSLAC Call #: 378.1 SH11a]
For more information on access to materials at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, please contact SamHoustonCenter@tsl.texas.gov or 936-336-8821. For archival collections and publications at the State Archives in Austin, please contact our Reference staff at email@example.com or 512-463-5455.