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Celebrating Angelina County’s Women on International Women’s Day

Thursday, March 08, 2018

In celebration of International Women's Day, The History Center is proud to highlight its resources that draw attention to the contributions of Angelina County's women throughout the county's history.  Women have contributed to every facet of society in Texas' only county named for a woman and it is our hope that their history will continue to be read and studied and honored through these and other resources.  

Angelina County's women didn't win the right to vote until 1920, but once that right was secured, they jumped into the process immediately.  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. 

Ellen Temple continues to be a fierce advocate for the county's women, historical preservation, and for including women's stories in historical scholarship (as well as including women scholars in the writing of history).  In the late 1970's, she regularly wrote columns and articles for the Diboll Free Press that told the county's history.  Many of these articles highlighted women's stories.  Sixteen of these articles are available here.  

The 2005 Pine Bough Magazine features an article highlighting the women of Angelina County during World War II and their contributions to the armed forces, the work force, and on the home front.  It can be downloaded here.  

The History Center also holds the collections of several local women and families.  The photographs showcase family life in Diboll and the varied lives of the women who lived and worked here.  Some of these can be viewed on our website, like the Martha Honea Quarles Collection, Fannie Farrington's scrapbook (still in the process of being fully uploaded), and the Mann Family Collection.

The 2012 Pine Bough Magazine features a story on the county's namesake, Angelina.  LIttle is known of this Native American woman, but we tried to bring all of the information we could find together in one place in an attempt to bring her out of the shadows of history and myth.  The article can be downloaded here.  

Oral History is one of the Center's strengths and the collection contains the voices of many women who have lived and worked and created in Diboll and Angelina County.  In these interviews, they tell their unique stories, which are recorded for posterity and offered here so that future histories of our area will include these voices and stories.  Beatrice BurkhalterOdyesa Wallace, and Mary Jane Christian were teachers who navigated family and professional obligations while guiding area children through economic and social changes during the Depression, racial segregation and integration.  Fannie Farrington came to Diboll when it was a dusty sawmill town and influenced the social and religious life of all of its citizens.  Rhoda Faye Chandler and Cora Nash worked through sometimes difficult circumstances. Rosa Miranda RamirezRebecca OrdazJune Taylor Chapman, and Minnie Jones broke barriers for racial inclusion and equality for the Hispanic and African American Communities in Diboll.  Rev. Bettie Kennedy made it her life's work to fight for racial equality and make sure the contributions of African Americans, particularly African American women, were remembered and honored.  Carol Riggs and Marie Davis worked to preserve the history of Angelina County and ensure future generations would know and understand where they came from.  Patsy Colbert and Rebecca Donahoe have conducted many of these interviews, and their passion for Diboll's history has ensured many stories will not be forgotten. 

These are just a few of the women's history resources in our collections and it is our privilege at The History Center to ensure that our history is the history of all of Angelina County's citizens.