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Hortense and family.

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April 17, 2014 - For the third straight year, Hortense, the Law Center’s adopted mourning dove, has come home to roost, and raise her chicks. Named after Hortense Sparks Ward, the first woman to pass the Texas Bar Exam (in 1910), the bird recently took up residence in her familiar spot atop a second-story light fixture overlooking a walkway at the school, and promptly produced two eggs.  The first fuzzy chick pecked its way into the world Wednesday morning. Hortense hovers over the fledglings until they are ready to be kicked out of the nest and then heads to parts unknown, hopefully to return for next year’s Spring semester.

The historical Hortense went into legal practice with her husband, but refrained from arguing cases in court on behalf of her clients, as she believed she would be at a disadvantage with all-male juries.  She became the first Texas woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1915. Ward was at the forefront of the movement for women's rights. In 1911 she wrote a pamphlet, Property Rights of Married Women in Texas, and she spearheaded the passage, in 1913, of the Married Woman's Property Rights Law (known as the Hortense Ward Act).

Ward lobbied the U.S. Congress in support of women's suffrage and is credited with drafting the primary-suffrage bill, which the Texas Legislature passed in 1918. Her efforts were realized when she became the first woman to register to vote in Harris County.  During the 1920s she spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan and campaigned on behalf of Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson, the first woman governor of Texas, who took office in 1925. Ward supported Ferguson because of her staunch opposition to the Ku Klux Klan and her support of prohibition.

Click here for more information about Hortense (the lawyer). 

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