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Texas

Texas Women’s History Month: A Suffragist Turned Secretary of State

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Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Best known for her dedication to winning the right to vote, Jane Y. McCallum was a lifelong activist, a prolific writer and influential opinion-maker. Born in 1878 in La Vernia, Texas, McCallum became the president of the Austin Suffrage Association in 1915.

A mother of five, McCallum spent years lobbying legislators for the vote, giving pro-suffrage speeches and writing for local newspapers. McCallum helped direct a successful statewide publicity campaign to win the right to vote in the Texas primaries in 1918. She was among the first Texas women to register. With others, she then successfully lobbied Texas senators to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

McCallum’s political savvy caused Govs. Dan Moody and Ross Sterling to appoint her secretary of state from 1927 to 1933. In 1954, the year Texas women finally won the right to serve on juries, she was named the first female commissioner of a Travis County grand jury.

 

A collection of McCallum’s diaries and writings, edited by Janet G. Humphrey, was reprinted in 2015 in the Ellen Temple Classics book series at Texas A&M University Press.

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.