What one thing is not like the others? Could it be the only woman in the room? This portrait was published in the Great Falls Tribune “Montana’s Best News Gatherer” on September 23, 1957. It was taken at the pre-convention barbeque mixer for the 10th Annual convention of the Montana Association of Realtors. Dallas real estate businesswoman, Ebby Halliday, attended as the Dallas President of the Women’s Council of the National Association of Real Estate Boards and was the principal speaker addressing the topic of “”Women and Real Estate”. Her long career was still in its nascent phase. She had been in the real estate business twelve years and was somewhat of a novelty–owning a company that was earning $3 million annually. As President of WAC, Ebby was invited to many state conventions and educational seminars.
Ebby was working during a time when women were not legally permitted to obtain a mortgage without a male cosigner. Women could sell houses, but could not borrow money to own one until the passage of the The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, which was a turning point for women and their financial futures.
Ebby recognized this chasm of opportunity and her early speeches emphasized the “The Four M’s” as she called them–Merchandising, Message, Mobility, and Mental Attitude. She focused on the work and business of selling properties, delivering the information from a decidedly gender neutral way. She referred to herself as a “salesman”.
Just a decade later, Ebby’s 1973 speech for sales and marketing executives acknowledged the changing times and roles of women by promoting themes such as “Women power is buying power”, “Women power is persuasion power,” and pronounced the greatest new market trend–“Species Female, Consumer”.
If being the only woman in the room speaks to you, check out Phaidon Publishing’s most recent publication “The Only Woman” by Immy Humes, which documents pioneering women through 100 photographs of a lone woman among men, just like the portrait of Ebby.
Project archivist Krishna Shenoy will be working on processing the Ebby Halliday papers thanks to a generous gift of the Ebby Halliday foundation, to preserve and make accessible the work of the first lady of real estate.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.