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Edith Thompson Brand graduated from the
University of Texas Medical Branch in 1899.
Women and men studied side by side at the University
of Texas and at Baylor University.
The women's suffrage movement had common cause with other grass-roots reform movements, such as temperance and Populism, as this tribute to William Jennings Bryan makes clear.
An 1895 resolution to amend the Texas Constitution
died in committee.
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A New Kind of Father, A New Kind of Daughter
The growth of urban areas in Texas, as across the nation, had produced a new class of men -- the builders and boosters of the new economy. Manufacturers, merchants, and professionals came to towns and cities to serve the needs of commerce. It would be the daughters of these men, North and South, who would lead the next wave of the women's suffrage movement.
The daughters of the new Texas middle class looked around them and saw many things they wished to change. They were armed with an advantage not available to earlier generations of Texas women -- access to education. Baylor University had opened for women in 1865, and the University of Texas was open to women from its founding in 1883. Teacher's colleges and private academies also provided education for women. When they returned home to growing cities and towns, the women used their education in paid work, in community service in churches, or for causes such as temperance and women's clubs.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union
The Women's Christian Temperance Union was a particularly important force for the development of Texas women leaders. The aim of the WCTU was to promote total abstinence from alcohol and to put liquor dealers out of business. But by necessity to further their cause, the women found themselves becoming activists in other areas. They found poverty and ignorance at the root of alcohol abuse and became involved in causes such as literacy, prison reform, and raising the age of consent to help save young girls from prostitution. These crusades helped prepare women for more involvement in the world of government and politics.
Inspired by success out West -- Wyoming women won the right to vote in 1890, Colorado in 1893 -- Texas WCTU members met in the spring of 1893 to form the Texas Equal Rights Association. A congress of women met in October that year as part of the state fair in Dallas, and chapters were formed in Denison, Granger, Dallas, Fort Worth, Belton, San Antonio, and Beaumont.
In the summer of 1894, suffragists tried but failed to introduce women's suffrage planks in the platforms of the major political parties -- Democrat, Republican, and Populist. In the legislative session of 1895, Representative A.C. Tompkins of Hempstead introduced a constitutional amendment that would grant women the vote, but the measure never made it out of committee.
Profile: Helen Stoddard (1850-1941)
Helen Gerrells was born in Wisconsin. She attended college in New York, where she graduated as the valedictorian of her class and married a classmate, Henry Stoddard. Henry died in 1878, and Helen and her young son came to Texas to join Helen's parents, who had moved there the year before. Stoddard joined the faculty of Fort Worth University. In the late 1880s she became interested in the temperance movement, and by 1891 she was elected president of the Texas chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. In the next 16 years, she built up the organization from a few hundred to almost 1900 members. She tirelessly traveled the state, lecturing and organizing. Her efforts resulted in the passage in the Texas legislature of alcohol education programs for the schools, raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 15, outlawing the sale of cigarettes to minors, instituting statutes against cocaine and gambling, establishing a pure-food law and laws against child labor, and founding Texas Woman's University. She supported woman's suffrage as a change that would aid in reforming society. In 1907, her health broke, and she moved to California where she died in 1941.
Helen Stoddard, Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, #1/104-245.
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