Remember the Ladies…
On Saturday, February 19th, 2022, Dallas lost a leading lady. Adlene Harrison, the first woman mayor of Dallas, Texas passed away at the age of 98. Harrison was a member of the Dallas City Council from 1973 to 1977. She was the city’s mayor pro tem when she was appointed acting mayor in 1976 to complete the term of Wes Wise, who resigned to run for Congress. The appointment made her the first Jewish woman to serve as mayor of a major U.S. city.
While on the city council, Harrison co-sponsored an ordinance to establish a city environmental committee and supported a strict air pollution ordinance. In addition, she was a member of the National League of Cities’ Steering Committee for Environmental Quality. As mayor, she continued her work for the environment, as well as encouraging legislation for historic preservation in the city.
Harrison’s passion laid in environmental issues, developing Dallas’ mass transit and in women’s reproductive-rights. Harrison was appointed an Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator in 1977, responsible for directing the EPA’s anti-pollution efforts in five states. She held this position until 1981, when she became chair of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Board.
Harrison’s other civic involvements have included work on the boards of the Women’s Museum, the Women’s Center of Dallas, the Dallas Jewish Coalition, the Metropolitan YWCA and the Dallas Arboretum.
The Adlene Harrison papers held in the Archives of Women of the Southwest comprise scrapbooks, correspondence, clippings, speeches and remarks, and ephemera. These materials document her career and contributions to the city of Dallas, as well as to larger environmental issues.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing these materials. The DeGolyer Library awards the Ruth P. Morgan grants to encourage work in women’s history or political history.
The DeGolyer continues to expand our digitization efforts, adding new content weekly. We have thousands of items digitized and searchable in our digital collections. Be sure to browse our holdings to find more letters, photographs, manuscripts, imprints, art, and audio/video.