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Historic Research

Women in Texas Politics Timeline

We compiled some of the incredible "firsts" to have occurred for women in Texas politics. Check out our virtual timeline displaying our historical research.

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1918
Nellie Gray Robertson (above left) is elected as the first woman county attorney in Texas. Elizabeth Howard West (above right) is named state librarian, becoming the first woman to lead a Texas state agency.

1919
The Texas legislature ratifies the 19th amendment, making Texas the ninth state and first Southern state to approve women’s suffrage.

1924
Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (left) was elected Governor of Texas in 1924, making Texas the second state to elect a woman governor. She later appointed Emma Meharg—the first woman to serve as Secretary of State for Texas.

1927
Minnie Fisher Cunningham (right) is the first Texas women to run for the United States Senate but fails.

1957
Norma Zúñiga Benavides wins a seat on the Laredo school board, possibly the first Latina in Texas elected to public office.

1958
Hattie Mae White (left) is elected to a Houston area school board and becomes the first African American woman elected in Texas.

1965
Lera Millard Thomas is the first Texas woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She fills the seat of her deceased husband.

1967
Dallas attorney Louise Raggio (left) spearheads the reform of property laws to benefit Texas women, leading to the passage of the Married Women's Property Rights Act. For the first time, women can buy and sell their own real property and securities.

1969
Anita Martínez (right) becomes the first Hispanic woman elected to a city council in Texas when she earns a spot on the Dallas City Council.

1979
Hailing from Houston, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (above left) becomes the first African-American woman to serve as a federal judge in Texas and the third in the U.S. Then Kathlyn Gilliam (above right) becomes the first woman and first African-American elected to the Dallas ISD School Board.

1982
Ann Richards (left) is elected as State Treasurer, the first woman to do so in Texas and the first woman to win statewide office in over fifty years. She will go on to be elected as Governor of Texas, one of only two women to ever do so.

1987
Annette Strauss (right) is elected as Dallas’s first woman mayor.

1995
Dallas district judge Carolyn Wright (left) is sworn in as the first African-American woman justice to serve on the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals.

1998
Elizabeth "Betty" García Flores is elected mayor of Laredo in a special election, becoming the first Hispanic woman to head a major city in Texas.

1845

1920

1940

1960

1980

1918

When Annie Webb Blanton became the Superintendent of State Public Instruction, she became the first woman in Texas to win a statewide elective office.

1922
Dallas attorney Edith Williams becomes the first woman elected to the Texas Legislature in the House of Representatives.

1926
Margie Neal (right) becomes the first woman elected to the Texas Senate—serving as the only woman until 1946.

1946
State representative Neveille Colson becomes a state senator and the first woman to serve in each chamber of the Texas Legislature.

1952
Oveta Culp Hobby (left), a native Texan, becomes the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as well as the first director of the Women’s Army Corps under President Eisenhower.  

1961
State District Judge Sarah T. Hughes (right) is appointed to the federal bench—becoming the first woman in Texas to serve in this role. Fun fact: Honorable Hughes swore in President L. B. Johnson following the assassination of JFK.

1966
Barbara Jordan (above) becomes the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Legislature, after being elected to the Texas Senate, and the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a southern state.

1968
Wilhelmina Delco (left) becomes the first African-American to be elected in Austin, Texas when she wins a seat on the local school board.

1975
Lila Cockrell (right) of San Antonio becomes the first woman elected mayor of a large city in Texas.

1981
Kathy Whitmire (above left) is elected as the first woman to serve as Mayor of Houston. Sandra Day O’Connor (above right), originally from El Paso, becomes the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

1982
Ruby Kless Sondock (right) becomes the first woman justice to serve on the Texas Supreme Court after serving as a district judge in Houston.

1986
Judith Zaffirini (left), representing Laredo, becomes the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate.

1990
After serving in the Texas House of Representatives, Kay Bailey Hutchinson (right) is elected as State Treasurer—becoming the first Republican woman elected to statewide office in Texas. She would go on to win a special election for a U.S. Senate seat, becoming the first woman to do so in Texas.

1997
Hilda Tagle, a former state district judge, is nominated by President Clinton to serve in the federal Southern District of Texas—becoming the first Hispanic woman to do so.

2000 & beyond

(coming soon)

 
 
 
 
 
 

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