The Charm Offensive

In 1956, the business leaders of Dallas were watching the flight of businesses from the city center to the suburbs. To combat this exodus, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and local businesses decided to launch a campaign focusing on the purchasing power of the 112, 308 “career girls” concentrated in downtown office buildings. The Dallas Retail Merchants Association and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce set September 20, 1956 as the day to launch their big sales and advertising promotion and present a series of events recognizing women’s influence on retail businesses. Mayor R.L. Thornton proclaimed the theme as “She Works in Dallas”.

Dallas Morning News, September 20, 1956 promotion.

The October issue of Charm magazine, “The Magazine for the Working Woman”, paid special tribute to five honorees, who were outstanding performers in their industry:  Ebby Halliday in real estate; Frances Niles in airline sales; Joyce Tharp in insurance; Margaret Sedwich in interior design; and Harrolyn Dilley a magazine editor.

Charm featured a three page article about Ebby giving details into her background and her personal and business life at the time. Her company was only a decade old and she had 3 offices, 16 associates, and was predicted to earn $5,000,000 in 1956.

Charm magazine feature about Ebby, October 1956.

W.A. Greens Department Store and Charm published a full page advertisement showcasing each of the five honorees dressed in their “6-Way Success Dress,” a wool jersey, “tubular to belt your exact fit”. Ebby customized her dress with a long scarf and a hat, of course!

Dallas Morning News, September 23, 1956

On September 25th, as part of the promotion, the five leading business women were given an aerial panoramic tour over the city of Dallas in a Braniff Convair. While in the air, Sheriff Bill Decker conferred honorary deputy awards upon the group. Ebby, along with her fellow honorees, were credited with “leading the city to achieve its present status and having a direct effect on it’s growth and development.”

Horizon Unlimited, October 1956

Project archivist Krishna Shenoy is 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 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.