Aftermath
Hortense Ward

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Hortense Ward

Hortense Sparks was born in Matagorda County in 1872. As a young woman, she taught school before marrying Albert Malsch, with whom she had three daughters. The couple lived in Houston, where Hortense worked as a court reporter and first became interested in studying law. She was divorced in 1906 and in 1908 married Houston attorney William Henry Ward. She passed the Texas bar exam in 1910 and became the first woman admitted to the Texas state bar. She and her husband practiced law together. In 1915, she became the first southern woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court.

As a suffragist and legal activist, Ward played a prominent role in the 1913 passage of the Married Woman's Property law, which gave women control of their separate property and wages, and in the passage of the 54-hour work week for women. In 1918, she helped prepare the legislation for the primary suffrage bill and the Texas prohibition law. On June 27, 1918, Hortense Ward became the first woman in Harris County to register to vote.

In addition to her work on the All-Woman Supreme Court case, Ward was active throughout the 1920s in both state and national politics, particularly in fighting against the Ku Klux Klan. She continued to practice law until the death of her husband in 1939. She died in 1944.

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W.D. Hornaday Collection, Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #75/70-5363.

Page last modified: August 24, 2011