Alabama Women's Hall of Fame

Hattie Hooker Wilkins (1875-1949)

Hattie Hooker Wilkins

A woman of vision and courage, Hattie Hooker Wilkins worked tirelessly to make life better for all Alabamians.

A native of Selma, Alabama, Hattie Hooker Wilkins was born to Frederick Josiah Hooker and Alexina Fellows Hooker. She was educated at Boss Calloway's School in Selma and attended Normal College in Nashville, Tennessee. She taught school prior to her marriage in 1898. She was active at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church.

A resident of Selma, Alabama and wife of industrialist Joseph G. Wilkins, and mother of three children, she was described during her political campaign as "a woman of rare culture and brilliant mentality, being a leading club woman, prominent in church circles. Her most significant accomplishment was that of wife and mother, and maker of a beautiful home that is a center of refinement and those lovely characteristics that go to make the perfect home life."

She was the first woman to be elected and to serve in the Alabama State Legislature. Following her election, she said, "When I go to Montgomery, I hope that I may not fail to do at the legislature anything that will be helpful to my state, its women, and its people." She worked tirelessly to make life better for all Alabamians, especially on education and health reform issues. The respect she gained from legislative colleagues is evident with affectionate title of "The Lady from Dallas" and with the inscription on the beautiful loving cup presented at the end of her term of office, "To Mrs. Wilkins, the First Woman Member of the Alabama House of Representatives, a Token of Esteem From Her Fellow Members, 1923."

Hattie Hooker Wilkins was a pioneer suffragist in Alabama and was a founding member of both the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association and the Alabama League of Women Voters. She defended her position to "Why I Am For Suffrage" with the following statement: "Self-direction or freedom of choice is necessary to the highest mental and spiritual development of a human being. Because democracy gives to each person this opportunity for development, democracy is right. Because democracy is right, Woman Suffrage is right."

In observance of the International Women's Year, in 1977, Mrs. Wilkins was selected as one of twenty-five illustrious Alabama women whose careers were highlighted in a historical exhibit, "Faces and Voices of Alabama Women". This exhibit is now a part of the permanent collection of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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Alabama Women's Hall of Fame