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McDOUGAL, MYRTLE ARCHER (1866-1956)

Suffragist and Democratic women's leader Myrtle Archer McDougal, the eighth child of Rev. George Washington and Sarah Jane Archer, was born on August 7, 1866, in Marietta Springs, Mississippi. In 1888 she married attorney Daniel Archibald McDougal. The McDougals, with their three daughters, Myrtle Jennie, Mary, and Violet, settled in Sapulpa, Indian Territory, in 1904. For the betterment of women's lives, Myrtle Archer McDougal initiated civic and social organizations and became active in the women's club movement. To raise funds she published a women's newsletter. She won her first elected office as president of the newly formed City (Sapulpa) Federation of Women's Clubs. At the Indian Territory Federation of Women's Clubs convention held in Tulsa in 1906 she gave her first public address in favor of prohibition. She served as president of the Indian Territory Federation of Women's Clubs (1907-08) and the Oklahoma Federation of Women's Clubs (1910-13). McDougal campaigned for mother's pensions to supplement family income and for improved conditions for adolescent girls in state custody. She also sought scholarships for state university women students and initiated guidelines for women's dress reform, nutrition, and sanitation.

In 1908 McDougal served as vice chair of Oklahoma's suffrage campaign. In 1913 Gov. Lee Cruce appointed her Honorary Democratic Committee Member from Oklahoma. In 1916 she campaigned to reelect Pres. Woodrow Wilson by serving as director of the Wilson and Marshall League, a women's voting league in twelve western states where women had the franchise. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, the position of committeewoman on the Democratic National Committee became an elected office. McDougal served as a national committee member for sixteen years and was the first woman to give an official nominating speech at a national political convention. During this era she crusaded for Voter Education Schools (forerunner of the League of Women Voters) for newly emancipated women.

McDougal traveled widely, organizing Democratic women's clubs, serving as national chair of the Women's Club Federation Peace Committee, and campaigning for a national peace day. She was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters degree for public service by Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) and was named an honorary colonel of Oklahoma's National Guard. The McDougals retired to Coral Gables, Florida. Upon Myrtle McDougal's death on July 25, 1956, the press hailed her as a "suffragette and crusading leader and organizer whose work in political, literary and women's groups spanned nearly a century."

SEE ALSO: DEMOCRATIC PARTY, POETS LAUREATE, SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT, WOMEN, WOMEN'S CLUB MOVEMENT, WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 27 July 1956. Marilyn Hoder-Salmon, "Myrtle Archer McDougal: Leader of Oklahoma's 'Timid Sisters,'" The Chronicles of Oklahoma 60 (Fall 1982). John William Leonard, ed., Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915 (New York: American Commonwealth Co., 1915).

Marilyn Hoder-Salmon

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