Austin Junior Forum Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Austin Junior Forum (AJF) is a non-profit women's organization founded by 18 women on March 28, 1969 to promote civic, educational and philanthropic interests in Austin, Texas. The goals of the Austin Junior Forum include supporting women, children, and the elderly through service and fundraising. The AJF is a chapter of Junior Forum, Inc. which to date has 9 chapters in other Texas cities, including Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Junior Forum, Inc. was founded in Houston in 1946. Each chapter of JFI is a private, non-profit service organization.
Beginning in 1971, the AJF began two of their main endeavors: supporting the Texas Youth Ranch and the "Follies" musical program. The Texas Youth Ranch is described by the AJF on their website as a home for dependent and neglected boys. Between 1971 and 1978, the AJF supported the Texas Youth Ranch through the contribution of funds amounting to more than $125,000, and through mentorship programs and numerous service hours. The Follies musical revue was also organized in order to raise funds for the Texas Youth Ranch. The AJF began organizing the first Follies production in 1971 and the production premiered in 1972. In 1977 the AJF began the annual Forum Fling, a western-themed buffet and dance with door prizes, in order to raise additional funds. The Texas Youth Ranch was closed in 1978 as a result of the changing climate in the courts, welfare agencies and state funding policies.
In 1978, the AJF purchased the historic Daniel H. Caswell House located at 1404 West Avenue in downtown Austin. This Victorian-style home built in 1900 is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a recorded Texas Historic Landmark. The house was purchased from the City of Austin as part of a competitive bid. Details of the bidding can be found in the minutes of the Austin City Council, dated November 30, 1978, at: http://www.cityofaustin.org. The minutes reflect discussion by the Council for competing bids, a consideration of the AJF's use of the Caswell House for the public benefit, and descriptions of statements made by AJF members and supporters of the AJF's bid. While the city council awarded the home to AJF, the women had to obtain the signatures of their husbands in order to secure a loan. AJF members restored the house through many hours of labor, enlisting the help of friends and family as well as restoration professionals. The Caswell House has been used as the Austin Junior Forum's headquarters, the site for many of its fundraising and community activities, and a venue for outside events. An image of the house appears on many of the AJF's printed materials, serving as a kind of logo for the organization.
After the purchase of the Daniel H. Caswell House, the AJF turned to fundraising in order to pay the mortgage and interior restoration fees. They settled on a plan to create a cookbook from their own recipes. The development of this cookbook entailed three years of gathering recipes, taste testing the results, and producing the cookbooks themselves. The final product was entitled, Lone Star Legacy, Bluebonnet Edition. Since the initial printing in 1981, over 200,000 copies of Lone Star Legacy have been sold. After only three years of cookbook sales and marketing, the mortgage of the Caswell House had been paid in full. The AJF has subsequently published two successor cookbooks, entitled The Lone Star Legacy II, Indian Paint Brush Edition, published in 1985, and Changing Thymes , published in 1996.
The AJF began hosting a Christmas at the Caswell House event beginning in 1983. The event is an annual holiday-themed merchant fair, featuring holiday décor, ornaments, and foods. Funds raised by Christmas at the Caswell House are used to provide grants to various community groups focused on benefitting children and the elderly. Grant recipients since 2008 may be viewed at: https://www.austinjuniorforum.org.
Much of the AJF's time and funds have been devoted to the support of other Austin charitable and philanthropic organizations such as Kids on the Block, Volunteers for Vision, Reading is Fundamental, Parents Anonymous, the Battered Women's Center, Capital Area Easter Seal Rehabilitation, and Travis County Shelter of Infants and Children.
The service project Kids on the Block has been one of the AJF's longest-running service commitments. This project was established in the mid 1980's as mainstreaming was adopted in public schools. Kids on the Block was organized to inform and educate school age children regarding disabilities and individual differences. The program eventually expanded to cover topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, gang activity, and violence. This project is currently active and continues to serve elementary children across Austin.
The AJF hosted the first Teddy Bear Picnic at the Caswell House in September 1986. This program provides stuffed bears and Dalmatians to local public safety agencies to give to children involved in traumatic events. Teddy Bear Program fundraising events have included picnics, carnivals, outdoor concerts, 5K fun runs, celebrity bear silent auctions, and in 2013, the Bikerz Bearz and Dogz Benefit Ride. The annual Bikerz Bearz and Dogz Benefit Ride is held in the spring to fund the purchase of teddy bears for the Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff's Office, and Austin-Travis County EMS, and stuffed Dalmatians for the Austin Fire Department.
The AJF is an active organization as of the date of this finding aid. Their website may be found at https://www.austinjuniorforum.org. The website for the Caswell House may be found at http://www.caswellhouse.org.
The materials document the activities of the AJF's Board and officers during the period 1969- 2012, and include organizational documents, minutes of Board meetings, budgets, financial reports, publicity planning materials, member books, event program guides, news clippings, publicity materials, photographs, negatives, correspondence and other types of items related to the fundraising, charitable, and organizational activities of the AJF.
The first series, Administrative Records (1971-2011), includes minutes and reports, event programs, legal materials, news clippings, member books, and general administrative materials. Some of the records are organized by type, such as event programs, minutes and reports, and member books, and then chronologically within each type of record. The minutes and reports include Board and Board Committee minutes and reports for many of the years spanned by the collection. The event programs include Forum Follies Programs, Forum Fling Programs, and the programs printed for the AJF's annual gala fund raising dinners. The member books (1969-2012) contain the AJF bylaws, event dates, names of Board and Committee members, and other information pertaining to the membership. Member books also include general correspondence and member applications for membership year 2008-2009. They were published in small spiral bound booklets until 1969-1970, then in a larger year book format. Organized chronologically, the general administrative materials include correspondence such as letters, party invitations and RSVPS, financial records, membership applications, publicity materials such as press releases and brochures, news clippings, production notes for events, budgets, and a guest book. There are two folders comprised exclusively of news clippings. However, news clippings are also found throughout the general administrative materials folders. Also contained within general administrative materials is information related to the organization's annual fundraiser held at the Caswell House. Formats represented include invitations, publicity items, news clippings and programs.
The second series, Cookbook Materials (1981-1999), relate to the AJF's publication of the cookbooks Lone Star Legacy, Lone Star Legacy II, and Changing Thymes. This series includes publication notes, budgets, photographs included in the books, and other administrative materials related to the publication and sale of the cookbooks.
The third series, Photographic Material (2008-2011), includes photographs of AJF members as well as various events such as Christmas at the Caswell House, the Mother Daughter Tea, new member retreats, and work at the Capital Area Food Bank. They are located in digital format on CD within the collection as well as on the AHC shared (N) drive. Most of the photographs may be identified by a specific event, but individuals pictured in the photographs are generally unidentified. In addition, there are digital images of photographs taken for the cookbooks. Also included within this series are color transparenices specifically for the Changing Thymes cookbook.
The fourth series. Junior Forum International (1963-1996), is comprised of documents relating to the AJF's parent organization. This series includes records related to other chapters of the Junior Forum International, such as the Baytown and Nacogdoches chapters. Some of the records of the Austin Junior Forum that appear in this series are duplicates of records appearing in General Administrative Records and Christmas at Caswell House series.
The fifth series, Additional Material (1979-2009), is comprised of meeting minutes, administrative histories, correspondence and photographs.
Restrictions on Access:
Open to all users.
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.
Austin Junior Forum Records (AR.2013.028) Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: Austin Junior Forum
Donation Dates: August 25, 2013, February 18, 2016
Final Processing and Finding Aid By/Date: Sarah Kainth, Alice King, Benjamin Philbrook, April, 2014. Revisions by Susan Rittereiser, 2014, 2016.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.