For the last Monday of Women’s History Month, The History Center draws attention to a collection of documents that demonstrates the enthusiasm with which Angelina County women participated in the electoral process once they were granted the right to vote. Though woman suffrage was an issue in Texas politics as early as 1868, it was not until 1918 that Texas women received any voting rights, and then only partially. In March of 1918, the Texas Legislature passed, and Governor William P. Hobby signed, a bill to allow women to vote in primary elections. Full enfranchisement would take an amendment to the constitution, requiring a majority vote of the legislature and a resolution approved by a majority of Texans, something much more difficult to acheive. Texas women fully utilized their limited rights, and in 17 days 386,000 women registered to vote in the Democratic Party primary on July 26, 1918. They campaigned for candidates from local school superintendent to governor, and their candidates usually prevailed. It was not until the movement to amend the United States Constitution that Texas women would receive full voting rights. The Texas Legislature ratified the 19th Amendment on June 28, 1919, becoming the 9th state to do so. The U.S. Constitution was officially amended in August 1920 when enough states ratified the amendment, granting full suffrage to American women in all states.
The Brashears Family collection contains many photographs, receipts, and pieces of family correspondence, but of interest for local political and electoral history, it contains poll tallies and voter lists for Angelina County Precinct 3 (Burke) in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Local school teacher and farmer J.C. Brashears served as the Precinct 3 election officer or judge for many years and he kept several poll lists from the Democratic Party primary elections. Of special interest are the early 1920’s lists showing a large number of women voters. While they do not include the very first elections that local women would have been eligible to vote in, they do show the enthusiasm with which women from Burke participated in the process almost immediately. In some cases they are the first names on the list, in some cases they voted next to their husband (and used his name as their official title), and in some cases they evidentially came in with a group of women in vote. They also served as electoral officials in these elections.