Women’s History Month – with Hermine Tobolowsky and the Texas’ Equal Rights Amendment of 1972!


March is Women’s History Month! And we didn’t have to think twice about sharing one of our favorite archival collections on that topic: the papers of Hermine Dalkowitz Tobolowsky. Known as “the Mother of the Texas Equal Rights Amendment,” Tobolowsky coordinated the Amendment’s passage in 1972. Her papers document not only the years of hard work that went into that triumph, but also her involvement with other facets of the women’s movement.


Hermine Tobolowsky was born January 13, 1921, in San Antonio, Texas. She attended Incarnate Word College in San Antonio and the University of San Antonio (now Trinity University). She went on to obtain a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. After facing blatant discrimination, she opened a private law practice in San Antonio and became ever-more involved with women’s groups that were interested in tackling the same issues she had faced.


By 1957, she had become the leader of the Texas-wide campaign for equal legal rights for men and women. The Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women had asked her to spearhead their causes, such as a bill empowering married women to own property separately from their husbands. By 1959, this had evolved into the Texas Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). After its passage 15 years later, Tobolowsky didn’t rest on her laurels. She continued her work in the Women’s Rights Movement, presenting speeches and workshops on women’s issues and serving as a legal advisor for numerous women’s organizations right up to her death on July 25, 1995.


But what was the ERA? A look at the fact sheet above gives you a sense of its original conception, but in its final form it “simply” amended the Texas Constitution to ensure that equality under the law couldn’t be denied due to sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. Its passage was a struggle, facing opposition at various times by the State Bar of Texas, private groups and lobbyists, and numerous legislators. After its inception, however, it was used time and again by Texas attorneys general, legislators, and women’s organizations to strike down laws, refine existing laws, or generally lobby for ongoing social and political change on behalf of women.


Tobolowsky’s collection is replete with correspondence, pamphlets, women’s organizations’ directories and newsletters, and even drafts of speeches and articles written by Tobolowsky and other women in the movement. A handful of her scrapbooks contain a wealth of information about her life and career as well. All of this great stuff can be found here at the Southwest Collection, so come on in and visit with our ever-helpful Reference staff to get your hands on it!

Daughters of the American Revolution!


Friday is the Fourth of July, with cookouts and singing and festive fireworks exploding nationwide. That has been the case in Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection, by the way!), throughout its history, oftentimes facilitated by the efforts of its Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the records of which the SWC proudly makes available to the public.

The DAR pursues educational, historic, and patriotic objectives through programs and events, as well as collecting and caring for historic documents and artifacts. Founded in 1926, the Lubbock chapter is named for a Revolution-era ancestor of the chapter founder, Ruth E. Ford. A lengthy, handwritten account (a portion of which can be seen above) detailing more about both Nancy Anderson’s story and the history of the chapter can be found in the collection.


The Nancy Anderson Chapter has installed a number of historic markers in the Lubbock region, including the Mackenzie Trail marker in downtown Lubbock. They also promoted good citizenship through recognition awards for high school and college students. For the Chapter’s good works, they received the honor roll citation from the National Society of the DAR seen here in a page from one of their many scrapbooks. DAR001Some of the DAR Records consists of annual reports, news clippings, and photographs of yearly events. There are also treasurer’s records, information about obtaining DAR grave markers, details regarding the historic markers installed by the chapter, and valuable compilations of early South Plains residents’ obituaries. Perhaps most informative is their Year Book, which summarizes much of this information, as well as the names of current members. We have a forty-year run of these, dating from 1961 through 2001. DAR005The women of the DAR are dedicated supporters of the armed forces, and they proved it regularly through awards given to Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) members and, of course, actively serving soldiers. This invitation was created for one of their many annual awards ceremonies, this one held in 1994 at Lubbock’s Reese Air Force Base.DAR008Finally, one of the programs of which the DAR takes the most pride is the training and recognition of immigrants aspiring to United States citizenship, emphasizing education about the United States Constitution. They even crafted pamphlets in native languages designed to help prospective citizens such as the ones seen above, which were written in German, Portuguese, and Hungarian. In our collections we also have several written in Polish, Spanish, French, Italian, and a host of other languages.

In short, the DAR, while a national organization, had a measurable presence in the local history of Lubbock and the South Plains: a fitting bit of trivia as we celebrate on this July 4th. Those interested in digging a little further into these records should get ahold of our helpful Reference Staff who are always happy to help however they can.