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Votes for Women

PICB 13189

[Jane McCallum], circa 1900, PICB 13189



Jane Yelvignton McCallum

Born in LaVernia, Texas, McCallum went to school in Wilson County where her father was sheriff. She attended Dr. Zealey’s Female College in Mississippi from 1892 to 1893. In 1896 she married Arthur Newell McCallum, and they moved to Kenedy, then Seguin, and then Austin where her husband was the superintendent of public schools from 1903 to 1942. In Austin she enrolled in courses at the University of Texas and joined many women’s clubs. She and her husband had one daughter and four sons.

McCallum entered the political world by campaigning for woman suffrage in Texas and quickly became a prominent leader of the movement. The Austin Woman Suffrage Association formed in 1908, and in 1915 McCallum was elected president. She worked closely with Minnie Fisher Cunningham to promote the statewide campaigns of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association. During 1917 and 1918 she wrote columns for the Austin American regarding suffrage. Her speeches, lobbying, and publicity campaigns helped impeach anti-suffragist Governor James Ferguson in 1917, win suffrage for Texas women in primary elections in 1918, and ensure Texas’ ratification of the federal 19th Amendment in 1919.

After women got the vote nationally, McCallum remained active in state politics. She founded the Joint Legislative Council, an alliance of six women’s groups that lobbied for issues of concern to women, such as child labor, prohibition, education, and maternal health. The group earned the nickname “The Petticoat Lobby.” In 1926 McCallum chaired a group to help elect Daniel J. Moody as governor. After his successful win over Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, Moody named McCallum as Secretary of State. She held the position until 1933.

Later in life McCallum served as a presidential elector in 1940, campaigned for Lyndon Johnson’s senate races, and was appointed to Austin’s city planning commission in 1944. In 1945 she led a protest with the Women’s Committee on Educational Freedom to demand the reinstatement of UT President Homer Rainey. She died in 1957 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.



Jane McCallum kept regular diaries in which she recorded details from her personal life as well as her accomplishments with the suffrage movement. This entry from January 9, 1918, shows the long hours and hard work that were involved with attaining the right to vote, as well as the excitement and happiness that McCallum and others felt at that time:

Dead tired, but happy! Worked prohibition and suffrage all day long until 5 p.m. … Attended 2 prohibition rallies, changed petition and – Later – Did I say tired? Never felt better in my life. Just heard from Mr. Walthall of [the] American that it has just come over the wires that Pres. Wilson has come out for Federal amendment. Tired? Feel like I could walk to Washington just to give him a pat. Can it really be true?



Jane McCallum Diary

Personal Diary – Jane McCallum ,1916-1918, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004.


Organized in 1908, the Austin Woman Suffrage Association was one of the first local suffrage organizations in the state. Meeting minutes from 1915 to 1916 are recorded in this notebook, including notes from the December 14, 1915 meeting which drafted the group’s constitution and cited their connection to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.



Austin Women's Association Notebook

Notebook – Austin Woman Suffrage Association, 1915-1916, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004.


The Texas Equal Suffrage Association, founded in 1916, established headquarters in Austin in order to lobby the state Legislature. The association worked to pass an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow women full enfranchisement. Attempts in the 1915 and 1917 legislative sessions did not get the two-thirds majority needed to pass. In 1919 Governor Hobby signed a resolution allowing full suffrage, but it needed to be approved by voters. Because the amendment was paired with a citizenship clause, it alienated many immigrants who then voted against it on May 24th causing it to fail.



Texas Equal Suffrage Association Broadside

Broadside – Texas Equal Suffrage Association, circa 1916-1919, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004.


The Austin Woman Suffrage Association, like other local chapters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, helped to distribute educational materials produced by the national organization. Materials appealed to both men and women and explained why domestic issues, which were usually under the purview of women, were political issues as well. The NAWSA also produced educational materials directed at local suffragists about how to best work for the movement.



National Woman Suffrage Association Broadside

Broadside – National American Woman Suffrage Association, circa 1910s, Jane Y. McCallum Papers. AR.E.004.

Click on thumbnails in the image gallery below to view more artifacts related to the suffrage movement in Austin.