Hortense Sparks Ward

2010 Cowgirl Honoree – Texas

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(1872-1944)

Known as a defender of women’s rights and as the first woman admitted into the Texas Bar Association, Hortense Ward broke barriers for women during the beginning of the 20th century. Five years after being admitted to the Texas bar, Ward became the first woman from Texas, as well as the first woman below the Mason-Dixon line admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ward was the president of the Houston Equal Suffrage Association, Chief Justice of the All-Woman Supreme Court, and Vice-President of the Women Lawyers Association; she was also the first woman registered to vote in Harris County. In the 1920s she publicly supported the campaign of Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson, the first woman governor of Texas. Ward spearheaded the Married Women’s Property Rights law – which became known as the “Hortense Ward Act,” and allowed married women in Texas to control their own property and earnings.