Texas Originals

Jane Y. McCallum

December 30, 1877–August 14, 1957

On June 28, 1919, Jane McCallum wrote in her diary, "Somehow I felt too thankful to be jubilant. We have a great responsibility and I pray God we may meet it squarely and successfully."

The responsibility McCallum referred to was the right to vote—a right American women finally won in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. As a leader of Texas women's fight for suffrage, McCallum always met her civic responsibilities "squarely and successfully."

Born in 1877 in LaVernia, Texas, McCallum moved to Austin in 1903 when her husband became school superintendent. In 1915, she was elected president of the Austin Woman Suffrage Association. As she campaigned for women's voting rights, McCallum faced heated criticism. Undaunted, she gave speeches, wrote newspaper columns, and lobbied legislators—all while running a busy, active household.

After women's right to vote had been secured, McCallum took on new responsibilities. She helped the Texas League of Women Voters fight for education, health care, and child labor laws. She was executive secretary of the Women's Joint Legislative Council, a powerful group sometimes known as the "Petticoat Lobby." She also served as Texas Secretary of State under two different governors.

McCallum died in 1957 and is remembered for her lifelong dedication to giving women a voice in the political process, and making sure that voice was heard.

For More about Jane Y. McCallum

Jane McCallum and the Suffrage Movement is an online exhibition created by the Austin History Center covering the history of the suffrage movement in Texas.

McCallum is featured in the Gallery of Great Texas Women, an online resource with photographs, quotations, biographical sketches, links to additional sources, and a downloadable content package. A physical exhibition based on the gallery is on display on the first floor of Kinsolving Residence Hall at The University of Texas at Austin.

Citizens at Last: The Women Suffrage Movement in Texas is a Humanities Texas exhibition based on the book of the same name. The freestanding exhibition uses archival photographs, newspaper clippings, cartoons, cards, and texts to display the struggle for woman suffrage in Texas. It is available for rental.

The Jane Y. McCallum Papers are held by the Austin History Center. The collection contains correspondence, printed material, financial documentation, creative works, photographs, and lists documenting the woman’s suffrage movement in Texas (1900–1920), McCallum’s personal life and career after suffrage (1815–1967), and Minnie Fisher Cunningham’s activities after suffrage (1918–1944).

In 1929 McCallum published Women Pioneers, a book that chronicles the lives of fourteen American women, including Anne Hutchinson, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, Dorothea Dix, and suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The full text of the book is available through Hathi Trust.

Selected Bibliography

Crawford, Anne Fears and Crystal Sasse Ragsdale. Women in Texas: Their Lives, Their Experiences, Their Accomplishments. Austin: State House Press, 1992, 231-243.

Duncan, Roberta S. "McCallum, Jane Legette Yelvington." Handbook of Texas Online.

Humphrey, Janet G. A Texas Suffragist: Diaries and Writings of Jane Y. McCallum. Austin: Ellen C. Temple, 1988.

McArthur, Judith N. Creating the New Woman: the Rise of Southern Women's Progressive Culture in Texas, 1893–1918. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

McArthur, Judith N. and Harold L. Smith, eds. Minnie Fisher Cunningham: A Suffragist's Life in Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

McArthur, Judith N. and Harold L. Smith, eds. Texas Through Women's Eyes: The Twentieth-Century Experience. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.

Rogers, Mary Beth, Sherry A. Smith, and Janelle D. Scott. We Can Fly: Stories of Katherine Stinson and Other Gutsy Texas Women. Austin: Texas Foundation for Women’s Resources, 1983.

Winegarten, Ruthe. Texas Women: A Pictorial History, from Indians to Astronauts. Austin: Eakin Press, 1986.

Winegarten, Ruthe and Judith N. McArthur, consulting editors. Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas. Introductory essay by A. Elizabeth Taylor, with foreword by Anne Firor Scott. Austin: Ellen C. Temple, 1987.

Listen to the audio

Portrait of Jane Y. McCallum. Image # PICB 13189, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
The Arthur N. and Jane Y. McCallum House in Austin. Photo by Rick Mach.