An Inventory of the Collection
For over fifty years, Elizabeth Fromme Gardner acted as a welfare and mental-health advocate in Texas. Charles W. Gardner (1877-1922), her husband, was an employee and, later, vice president of Tips Engine Works, in Austin, Texas. An inventor, Mr. Gardner created new types of air valves and fuel and air controls for an original internal-combustion engine. After Mr. Gardner's death in 1922, Mrs. Gardner patented his inventions.
In 1923, Mrs. Gardner helped establish the Altrusa Club, a service organization for women, in Austin, Texas. In later years, she served the organization in various capacities, including president of the local chapter and president of the national organization. In 1962, she retired from the Altrusa organization and became an honorary member. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Mrs. Gardner served on the Austin School Board for six years. Before 1957, she also held several positions, both voluntary and paid, at state, local, and non-profit organizations. During this time, she also worked for the Texas Relief Commission at its founding. For seven years, she also worked as a field supervisor for the Works Progress Administration Texas. She was also an executive secretary for the Texas Social Welfare Association, and for ten years, she was the first executive secretary for the Texas Society for Mental Health (TSMH). After retiring from the TSMH, Mrs. Gardner became archivist for the organization. She also helped establish the Austin Community Chest, and she worked for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.
The Gardner Papers (1900-1956), which consist of correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials, are organized into three series that reflect personal associations with the materials.
The Charles W. Gardner series (1900-1957) indicates Mr. Gardner's involvement in the creation, production, and selling of oil and gasoline engines. The bulk of the material consists of correspondence (1901-1921), reports (1900-1921), and printed materials (1957, undated). Items of interest include handwritten specifications, calculations, and narratives about the internal-combustion engine (Reports, 1900-1921). Original patents for Charles W. Gardner's combustion engine are also included (Legal Documentation, 1915-1926) in this series.
The Elizabeth Fromme Gardner series (1949-1946) reflects Mrs. Gardner's interests. But, except for a letter and a published speech, the material has little to do directly with Mrs. Gardner. The first subseries concerns the Austin Community Guidance Center (1950-1956) and includes correspondence (1950-1953), meeting minutes (1951-1954), reports (1951-1953), and printed materials (1952-1953). The second subseries, titled the Texas State House of Representatives (1949), consists of correspondence (1949), legal materials (undated), and printed materials (undated). The materials in this series and The Texas Society of Mental Hygiene subseries (1949-1953) reveal the efforts of Texas mental-health advocates to have the so-called "Lunacy Act" (H.J.R. 32, 51st Regular Session) passed. (The bill, if it had become effective, would have amended the Texas Constitution to make the right to a jury trial the same in "lunacy" cases as in ordinary civil cases, and it would have allowed for the waiver of a jury trial in "lunacy" cases. Though passed by both houses, the proposed amendment (Proposition 9, November 8, 1949) was defeated at the ballot box.) The fourth subseries, the Federated Women's Club (1916) concerns an organization in which Mrs. Gardner was involved. It includes the publication "Thirteenth Biennial Convention: 1916," which is a transcription of a speech, titled "Germany," that Mrs. Gardner gave. The fifth subseries, The Comet (1926), contains a letter received by Mrs. Gardner concerning her receipt of the publication "The Comet."
The third and final series, Anita Goeth Graham (1905-1908), contains photographic albums originally belonging to Anita Goeth Graham.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users. According to the original finding aid, "There is one document that is marked as 'confidential' and was removed from the file and relocated."
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
In February 1964, Mrs. Elizabeth Fromme Gardner donated the materials related to mental health. In June 1965, she donated the remaining materials.
Gardner Papers (AR.C.003). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1958/007.
Donation Dates: February 1964; June 1965.
Initial processing and finding aid by Regina Koehler, October 6, 2001.
Final processing and finding aid by Alisha Little, February 1, 2003.
Encoding by Roger Simon.
Detailed Description of the Collection