A Guide to the May N. Paulissen Papers, 1981, 1995
Miriam Amanda (Ma) Ferguson, first woman governor of Texas, served as the first lady of Texas during the gubernatorial terms of her husband James Edward Ferguson (1915–17), who was impeached during his second administration. When James Ferguson failed to get his name on the ballot in 1924, Miriam entered the race for the Texas governorship. Inaugurated fifteen days after Wyoming's Nellie Ross, Miriam Ferguson became the second woman governor in United States history. Political strife and controversy characterized her first administration. Though a threat to impeach Miriam Ferguson failed, these controversies helped Attorney General Daniel James Moody defeat Mrs. Ferguson in 1926.
Miriam Ferguson did not seek office in 1928. However, after the Texas Supreme Court again rejected her husband's petition to place his name on the ballot in 1930, she entered the gubernatorial race but was defeated by Ross Sterling. In February 1932 she again declared for the governorship and won. Her second administration did not engender as much controversy as the first, despite dire predictions to the contrary by her political opponents. After her husband's death in 1944, Miriam Ferguson retired to private life in Austin. She died of heart failure on June 25, 1961, and was buried alongside her husband in the State Cemetery in Austin.
Source: John D. Huddleston, "FERGUSON, MIRIAM AMANDA WALLACE [MA]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffe06), accessed July 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
This small collection is comprised of two sets of interview notes related to Texas governors Miriam and James Ferguson. Interviews were conducted by May Paulissen, co-author of Miriam, the Southern Belle who Became the First Woman Governor of Texas (1994).
This collection is open for research use.
May N. Paulissen Papers, 1981, 1995, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Stefanie Lapka, July 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers