A Celebration of the Suffrage Centennial
Sister Suffragists is a celebration of the movement that brought suffrage to the women of Texas and the nation.
Not for herself! Though sweet the air of freedom;
Not for herself! Though dear the newborn power;
But for the child who needs a nobler mother,
For the whole people needing one another,
Comes woman to her hour.
From “Coming” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ca. 1911
Thousands of women from different walks of life campaigned tirelessly for the right to vote. Suffragists held mass meetings, circulated petitions, and went door-to-door to persuade voters of their cause. They rejoiced when the U.S. Congress passed an amendment on June 4, 1919, granting voting rights to women. On June 28, 1919, Texas became the ninth state to ratify that amendment, which would become the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In August 1920, the amendment achieved final ratification, and women could vote at last.
Early Suffrage Movement, 1880–1900: Women had been working to end state laws restricting female suffrage since the 1850s. In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment declared for the first time nationally that only men could vote. The suffrage movement took on new fervor.
- Campaign for Suffrage, 1900–1920: In 1913, more than 100 representatives from seven Texas cities met to revive the state’s suffrage movement. Working with national leaders, the Texas Equal Rights Association developed a strategy to raise women’s suffrage to an active issue. Almost exclusively white and upper middle-class, their tactics were frequently racist, elitist, and nativist in ways that excluded many women and played on the fears of Americans. Specifically excluded were women of color who still campaigned for suffrage, but through their own organizations.
- Voters at Last, 1918 onward: Texas women gained the right to vote in state primary elections in 1918. This was a significant victory because Texas was a one-party state. When the Nineteenth Amendment granting full suffrage to women nationwide received final ratification in August 1920, Texas women were able to participate fully in elections. For the women who had been so personally invested in the suffrage movement, the ability to vote was an experience and a responsibility unlike anything they had known before.
Inside the Exhibition
Find your voice as you join a movement of women who forever shaped our history.
- Suffrage documents including scrapbooks, speeches, letters, posters, pamphlets, and cartoons interpret the suffrage movements of the 1890s and early 1900s, the passage of the amendment, and the first elections in which women were able to vote.
- A selection of textiles showing how women’s fashions adapted to reflect the changing roles of women in American society.
- Voting rights were just the first step in a longer campaign for equal rights. Quiz yourself to see when the vote was extended to women in different groups and when basic rights like opening a credit card were granted to American women.
- On June 28-29, 2019, the museum will host noted scholars for a Texas Suffrage Symposium that will explore this historic amendment and its lasting relevance. Scholars will share their insights and research on the people involved in the work that culminated with this historic event, from the perspective of ordinary citizens, legislators, and activists on the local, statewide, and national level.
Select Artifacts On View in the Exhibition
- A hand-written speech, What is Feminine, by early suffragist Mariana Folsom
- A selection of flyers promoting female suffrage
- A telegram annoucing that over 300,000 women registered to vote
- An oversize banner, Mothers' Votes Protect the Home, used by Texas suffragists
Sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Additional support by the Texas Bar Foundation and the Texas State History Museum Foundation.
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is owned and operated by the State of Texas through the State Preservation Board.
At the museum: 06/15/2019 - 08/31/2020