The Battle Lost and Won
Captain J.J. Farley of the Dallas Police Department,
Holland's Magazine, October 1917

The Women's Christian Temperance Union and other women's organizations had long been concerned about the way that women and youth were handled by the criminal justice system. One reform that they pushed for was the appointment of women to the police force. Beginning in the 1890s, police matrons were appointed to handle runaways and prostitutes and to maintain separate jails for female and youthful offenders. Between 1905 and 1910, cities on the West Coast, including Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles commissioned female officers with badges and the power of arrest. Other cities soon followed suit. Female officers were generally empowered to enforce laws at places such as dance halls and movie theaters, to search for runaways, and to find alternative housing and employment for young women and juvenile offenders who had fallen into lives of prostitution or delinquency.

Holland's magazine profiled Captain J.J. Farley of the Dallas Police Department in a 1917 article entitled "A Civic Victory for the Club Women." At the time, Farley was the only woman holding the rank of captain in the United States. The article notes that Farley "is a great favorite not only with the poor, but in the most exclusive social and literary circles. She bears herself with queenly dignity and is always faultlessly gowned." Farley told Holland's that men should suffer the same penalties for vice crimes as the women they patronized and that women should be allowed to serve on juries -- a right that Texas women would not achieve until 1954. She had advice for the ambitious young woman looking for adventure in the big city -- "...Become more interested in her duties at home with those whom God had planned to be her natural protectors."

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Captain J.J. Farley of the Dallas Police Department

Captain J.J. Farley of the Dallas Police Department, Holland's Magazine, October 1917, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

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Page last modified: August 24, 2011