Hallie Farmer: Crusader for Legislative Reform in Alabama.

Hallie Farmer: Crusader for Legislative Reform in Alabama.

By Carolyn Hinshaw Edwards.

Carolyn Hinshaw Edwards, in her 1979 publication, Hallie Farmer: Crusader for Legislative Reform in Alabama, recounts the career of Dr. Hallie Farmer, crusader, reformer, activist and, most importantly, teacher.

Hallie Farmer came to Montevallo in 1927 with a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin, a rare thing for a woman in those days. Her career at Montevallo extended from 1927–1956, during which time she became a renowned teacher and scholar.

Dr. Farmer’s reputation as a teacher was built on her willingness to tackle controversial subjects in her classes, on her insistence that her women students learn to think critically. An active scholar, Dr. Farmer directed much of her research in the 1940s to the legislative process in Alabama, which she found greatly lacking. In 1949, she published The Legislative Process in Alabama, heralded by many as the model for reform, including the need for re-writing of the Alabama Constitution. She was instrumental in abolishing the poll tax, in prison reform, in originating jury service for women, in establishing the state merit system and the pardon and parole system.

She served on the Montevallo Town Council from 1937-1945, the first woman ever elected to that position. Dr. Farmer received national acclaim in her role as a leader of American Association of University Women.

Many laws on the statute books in the United States today would not be there without the efforts of Dr. Hallie Farmer, a truly legendary figure for commitment to her passions —political activism, scholarship and teaching.

Elaine W. Hughes, Ph.D., is a professor of English at the University of Montevallo.