Boykin, Clota Terrell (1884–1970)


By: Ray F. Lucas

Type: Biography

Published: December 3, 2021

Updated: December 3, 2021


Clota Terrell Boykin, teacher, women’s club member, suffragist, and advocate for women and children, was born in Quitman, Texas, on April 2, 1884. She was the daughter of Robert Lee Terrell and Victoria (Crow) Terrell.  Clota, the third of five siblings, had two brothers and two sisters. She and her family moved to Fort Worth in 1892. She graduated from Fort Worth High School as one of the top students in her class in May 1902. The next year she began teaching at Fort Worth School No. 1. She retired following her marriage to Stanly Boykin in 1904. After reading law with his father, Judge Robert J. Boykin, Stanley Boykin became a well-known Fort Worth attorney focusing on federal law. The Boykins were married until Stanley’s death in 1941. They had two daughters, both of whom were clubwomen as adults.

As early as 1909 Boykin had begun her longtime affiliation with women’s clubs. She was a member and president of the Fort Worth Woman’s Shakespeare Club, one of the charter clubs of the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth. She taught parliamentary procedure to various women’s clubs. She was active in the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs and served as its president and parliamentarian and was the president of the Fort Worth Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1943 and 1944. Her decades-long involvement with the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs led to her election as an honorary board member for life in 1955. She was a president of the Parent-Teacher Association in Fort Worth and president and parliamentarian for the Texas Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations (later the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers), to the latter of which she was eventually elected an honorary member for life. She also served as president of the Fort Worth Council of Mothers. Boykin was one of the founders of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital (later known as the Children’s Hospital), which opened in 1918, and served as chair of the hospital’s woman’s board. After leaving active work on the board, she was named an honorary board member.

In addition to working for the betterment of women and children in the areas of education and health care, Boykin was a local leader in the fight for woman suffrage. At the first organizational meeting of the Fort Worth Equal Suffrage Association in December 1914, no one would accept the office of president. Despite not attending the meeting, Boykin was elected temporary president in absentia. Enthusiastically embracing the unsolicited charge, she became a charter member and was unanimously elected the first president of the permanent suffrage association in January 1915. Boykin disavowed militancy and sought instead to educate people on the issue of woman suffrage. She sought a state compulsory education law, minimum working hours for women, and “[g]eneral legislation along lines tending to the moral uplift and betterment of living conditions for women and children.” Such policies were expected to naturally follow from the inclusion of women as constituents and championed as justifications for extending the franchise. Unlike many suffragists, Boykin was neutral on the issue of prohibition. Re-elected president in 1916, Boykin and the suffrage club developed a concerted plan to push for woman suffrage in the Thirty-fifth Texas Legislature. The suffrage club organized down to the ward level in Fort Worth, and members took classes on laws regarding women and children. Through a successful public relations campaign, the Fort Worth club dramatically increased its membership (adding almost 100 members in its first year) and subverted the image of suffragists as militants in Fort Worth.

In the statewide campaign to pass woman suffrage amendments to the U. S. and Texas constitutions, Boykin served as the Texas Equal Suffrage Association district chair in the state’s Thirtieth Senatorial District (made up of Tarrant, Parker, Hood, and Somervell counties). Although the attempt to amend the Texas Constitution met with failure in May 1919, on June 28, 1919, Texas became the ninth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, and in August 1920 the amendment won national ratification. Boykin chaired the committee that organized a “Celebration of the Granting of Equal Suffrage to the Women of the United States” held in Fort Worth in September 1920.

While actively campaigning and organizing for equal suffrage in 1919 and 1920, Boykin lent her organizational talents to other issues. She served as a public representative on a Tarrant County price-fixing committee during World War I. In mid-1919 Texas governor William P. Hobby appointed Boykin as a member of the Texas Child Welfare Commission, for which she served as secretary. She also advocated permanent city funding of parks in Fort Worth.

She served as president of the League of Women Voters of Fort Worth, created out of the Fort Worth Equal Suffrage Association after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. At the first annual convention of the Texas League of Women Voters in 1920, in addition to being elected first vice president of the league, Boykin served as the parliamentarian. Throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s Boykin continued to be an active member of the Texas League of Women Voters and the Fort Worth Federation of Women’s Clubs and continued to actively campaign for issues relating to women and children.

She was a member of the Democratic party and served as a delegate from Tarrant County to the 1918 and 1920 state Democratic conventions. In 1920 she served on the executive committee of a Fort Worth club backing R. Ewing Thomason for Texas governor and as an assistant to the local member of the State Democratic Executive Committee. Always involved in local political and social issues, she was even mentioned as a suitable candidate to temporarily fill a vacant seat on the Fort Worth City Council in 1943 until a special election could be held. The appointment ultimately went to another candidate.

The Fort Worth Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Women’s Shakespeare Club honored Boykin in 1952 by giving her a luncheon and a gold wristwatch for her more than forty years of volunteer work with federated women’s clubs and the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers. She objected to receiving public recognition “for doing what I wanted to do.” She commented that “I don’t deserve this honor, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t love it.”

Boykin lived in Fort Worth until approximately 1957 when she moved to San Antonio, where one of her daughters, Camilla (Boykin) Campbell, lived. She then moved to Blythe, California, in 1965 to live with her other daughter, Clota Priscilla (Boykin) Bowen. Boykin died on March 24, 1970, in Blythe and was buried in Palo Verde Cemetery in Blythe.

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Clota Boykin, ed., League of Women Voters 1915-193– Scrapbook (https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/archives/scrapbooks/League_Of_Women_Voters_1915-1930_Scrapbook.pdf), accessed December 1, 2021. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 29, 1912; January 3, 8, 1915; January 10, 1916; December 6, 1942; November 22, 1952; August 3, 1969; March 26, 1970.

Categories:
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Organizations
  • Women
  • Suffragists and Antisuffragists
  • Women's Clubs
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ray F. Lucas, “Boykin, Clota Terrell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/boykin-clota-terrell.

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December 3, 2021
December 3, 2021

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