Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
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October 16, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- SMU's Archives of Women of the Southwest gained an important trove of documents recently when the League of Women Voters of Dallas donated more than 50 years of papers to the archives, which chronicles women's contributions to society.

The League collection spans the years 1938 to 1989, a period which saw ten presidential elections, about 25 congressional races and numerous city and state campaigns. Dallas also grew tremendously during this period to become one of the nation's major metropolitan areas.

Russell Martin, director of the DeGolyer Library, where the Archives of Women of the Southwest resides, says the collection will present scholars and students with a valuable perspective on the political landscape from the last half-century. With chapters in cities across the nation, the League of Women Voters is known for its extensive research of political issues and candidates for office at all levels of government. The Dallas chapter has approximately 400 members.

"Few organizations can match the League of Women Voters for consistent, objective and thorough coverage of political issues," said Martin. "In addition, the League files will provide us with a record of the engagement of individual women in the political issues of the day."

Measuring eight linear feet, the collection includes board minutes, voter information, fundraising materials, candidate interviews, precinct maps, directories, handbooks and newspaper clippings. Several files of correspondence reflect the League's stand on a number of local Dallas issues from flood control to housing to children's issues. Also included in the collection are the papers of Susybelle Gosslee, the current president of the League of Women Voters of Dallas.

The Archives of Women of the Southwest marks its tenth anniversary this year. Established in 1992, it contains correspondence, speeches, documents and records of more than 40 prominent Dallas women and women's organizations, including the papers of Ebby Halliday, Dallas real estate executive; Anita Martinez, the first Hispanic city councilwoman in the United States; and Sarah Cockrell, an early Dallas pioneer.

Since receiving the collection, SMU archivists have been busy processing and documenting the papers so they can be made available to the public. Martin says the League presented the papers already well-organized and in good condition, which makes the archivists' job easier. Archiving documents is labor intensive because each piece of paper must be examined by hand and the entire contents of a collection inventoried.