Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series I: Visuals

SERIES II: Philanthropic - Awards, recognition, memorials, 1939-76

Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to Ella Fondren Family Papers 1880s-1976, bulk 1925-1960s



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Fondren, Ella F., 1880-1982
Title: Ella Fondren Family papers,
Dates: 1880s-1976, bulk 1925-1960s
Abstract: The collection visually documents Ella Fondren's family members and homes, and describes her lifelong philanthropic efforts toward higher education and health care in the Houston area.
Identification: MS 340
Extent: 3 linear feet
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX

Biographical Note

Ella Florence Fondren (1880-1982), philanthropist, was born on June 1, 1880, the third child and elder daughter of Allen Cathy and Mary (Pogue) Cochrum of Hazel, Kentucky. When Ella was about six, the family moved to Corsicana, TX. Her father died in 1895, and she quit school to help care for her family with six siblings. As a teenager she worked in her family's boardinghouse. There she met Walter W. Fondren, her future husband, who worked as a driller. Fondren remained in Corsicana only a few years, leaving in 1901 to take drilling jobs in the Gulf Coast oilfields. He continued to stay in contact with Ella, however, and returned to marry her on Feb. 14, 1904. They had three children. Walter Fondren continued running operations in oilfields along the Gulf Coast but increasingly concentrated his drilling in the Humble oilfield northeast of Houston. He credited Ella with determining some of his oil acquisitions. In 1911 he became the major stockholder in the new Humble Oil Company (now Exxon Company, USA).

The Fondrens established the Fondren Lectures in Religious Thought at Southern Methodist University in 1919. They gave major financial support for the construction of a new building at St. Paul's Methodist Church in 1929. In 1938 they donated nearly half a million dollars to SMU to build the Fondren Library. Walter Fondren also made large contributions to the Methodist Home for Orphans at Waco. Walter Fondren died in Jan. 1939 while attending a Methodist conference. Ella Fondren carried on his philanthropic interests and assumed some of his directorial posts. She replaced him at Southern Methodist University, thereby becoming the first woman to serve on SMU's board of trustees and governors. In 1940 she succeeded him on the board of directors of the Methodist Home for Orphans at Waco and on the Methodist Board of Homes and Hospitals, retaining her position on the latter board for twenty years. In 1946 Ella Fondren and her children provided $1 million for the Fondren Library at Rice Institute.

The Fondren Foundation, established by Ella Fondren in 1948, made major grants to assist the expansion of Methodist Hospital in 1950 and 1976 and to launch the Fondren and Brown Cardiovascular and Orthopedic Research Center, completed in 1964. Fondren also ensured that the original Methodist Hospital operations remained solvent until a modern structure was completed in 1951. She served on the board of directors for Methodist Hospital for more than thirty years and on the board of Baylor University as well. Her foundation supported the growth of Baylor University College of Medicine and of St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. The Institute for Religion at the Texas Medical Center was launched with her support. She regularly visited the institutions her family has assisted, evaluated their facilities, and insisted that the buildings she funded be large and the equipment state-of-the-art. The Fondren family provided major support for science buildings at Southwestern University in Georgetown and at Southern Methodist University. The foundation also established the Fondren Scholarships and the Fondren Lectureships there. Scarritt College in Nashville, TN, named an education building for Ella Fondren in appreciation for her grant to construct the facility. When Rice University sought funds to add a research wing onto the Fondren Library in 1968, the Fondrens responded with another large grant. Ella Fondren left the Southern Methodist University board of trustees and governors in 1969 but continued serving on several other boards, especially that of Methodist Hospital. She outlived her children and spent her last five years at that facility, which provided both social opportunities and nursing care. She died there on May 3, 1982, shortly before her 102nd birthday and was buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston.

Excerpted from The New Handbook of Texas, Vol. 2, 1996

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Scope and Content

The collection, totaling seven document boxes and one upright bin, visually documents Ella Fondren's family members and homes, and describes her lifelong philanthropic efforts toward higher education and health care in the Houston area. Highlights include honors and awards bestowed on Mrs. Fondren and clippings, and photographs and reports of the construction progress of Methodist Hospital, Houston. Dates range from 1880s-1976 (bulk dates 1925-1960s), and formats include scrapbooks, photographs, drawings, certificates, plaques, resolutions, awards, citations, honorary degrees with academic hoods, with programs, newsclippings, and commemorative albums.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series: Series I: Photographs and renderings, 1880s-1972, and Series II: Philanthropic-Awards, recognition, memorials, 1939-76.
Many of the collection's photographs were identified by various family members, and some remain unidentified. Family members pictured include Walter William Fondren, Walter William Fondren, Jr., Catherine Fondren Underwood, Milton R. Underwood, Sue Trammell, Bryan Trammell, and others. Many early family photos are not dated, but dates can be approximated in the 1880s. Some photographs were removed from frames for space considerations.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Ella F. Fondren/Fondren Family Collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Fondren family - Portraits.
Fondren family - Homes and haunts - Pictorial works.
Fondren, Ella F., 1881?-1982 - Awards.
Subjects (Organizations)
Methodist Hospital (Houston, Tex.) - Design and construction.
Fondren Library (Houston, Tex.)
Subjects
Dedication services--Texas--Houston.
Families - Texas - Houston - 20th century.
Philanthropists - Texas.
Women philanthropists - Texas.
Education, Higher - Texas.
Formats
Photographs.
Scrapbooks.
Clippings.
Renderings.
Certificates.
Commemoratives.
Plaques (flat objects).

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Related Material

See Walter F. and Ella F. Fondren Papers, MS390, and Ella Cochrum Fondren, Walter W. Fondren and Fondren Library information/vertical files located in Woodson Research Center.

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Separated Material

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ella F. Fondren/Fondren Family Collection, MS 340, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

The collection was given to the Woodson Research Center in April, 1980 by Mrs. Edwin Allday (neé Doris Fondren) on behalf of the Fondren Family.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 
Box
1-2 Series I: Visuals
The series includes photographs of family groups and individuals, a family scrapbook, group photos of family friends, renderings and photos of Houston buildings, including Fondren family homes. Extremely large items have been removed to an upright bin.
Box Folder
1 1 American College of Hospital Administrators
2 Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX
3 Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX
4 Scarritt College, Nashville, TN
5 Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
6 Oil Convention in Mexico #44, 45, 49, 51, 53, 54
7 Misc.
8 Misc.
9 Walter William Fondren #5, 6, 7, 7a, 8, 10, 12, 12a, 13
10 Ella Cochrum Fondren #2, 20f, 23, 25b, 25c, 25e, 25f, 25g, 25k, 25l, 25s, 38, 43, 55, 2 loose
11 Ella Fondren at receptions, meetings, etc.
12 Fondren family groups:
12 7f
Doris Fondren, Mary Fondren
12 9
Catherine, Walter Jr., Sue
12 10f
Dossy, Doris, Camille, Elly, WWFIII, WWFJr.
12 13fa
?, WWF, Dossy, Mrs. WWF, Bishop Selecman
12 18f
Mary Doris Fondren, Elly Fondren
12 22
Bryan, Tom, Camille, Sue, Doris, David, Peter, Walter, Ellanor
12 23f
Doris and brother Smith at a Rice barn dance
12 26
Susie, Catherine, Mrs. Fondren, WWFJr.
12 28
WWFJr., Catherine, Sue
12 40
Sue, Mary Ida Hubbard (daughter of Mrs. WWF's sister, Ida Cochrum Hubbard), Dossy, Camille, Elly, Bryan, Peter, David Elly, Bryan, Peter, David
12 46
Passport photo for European trip, 1920
12 48
Mrs. Fondren, Sue, WWFJr., WWF
12 50
WWF, Sue, WWFJr., Mrs. Fondren
12 52
WWFJr., Sue
12 57
Milton, Doris, Walter Jr., Momo, Sue, Catherine, Tex, Peter, Walter III, Dossy, Bryan, Elly, Sue, David
12 57
Loose, unnumbered
12 Fondren family on porch of Westmoreland St. house
13 Walter William Fondren, Jr. #4f, 5f, 8f, 9f, 3 loose
14 Walter William Fondren, III #27f, 29f, 1 loose
15 Camille Fondren #26f (with daughter Doris Ledwidge), 28f
16 Mary Doris Fondren #16f
17 Susie Ella Fondren
18 Mary Catherine Fondren
19 Cochrum family:
19 Talton & May Cochrum with son, Steve
19 May Cochrum and mother-in-law, Holly Pogue Cochrum
19 Mrs. Fondren's mother and her sister
19 Grandfather Jack Cochrum, Grandmother Cochrum, Aunt Etta
19 Grandfather Jack Cochrum, Grandmother Cochrum
19 Holly Pogue Cochrum
Extent (3 photos)
19 Aunt Etta Cochrum
19 Noah Cochrum
Extent (2 photos)
19 Noah Cochrum and May and Talton Cochrum
19 Holly Pogue Cochrum #1a
20 Fondren family photos #57 loose, unnumbered
21 Fondren family individual photos #57, loose
22 Vacations #57
23 Loose photos from scrapbook labeled "The Conejos Valley"
24 Fondren house on Westmoreland Street #27, 29, 57
25 Fondren house on Montrose Blvd.
Box
2 #11 Sue, WWFJr., Catherine
Possibly WWF's family from Arkansas
2 group photos taken outside SMU [?] building
Walter William Fondren #15, 14, 58
Dorie Fondren #6f, 17f, 19f
? and brother Smith #24f
#25f identifiable are Bill Stuart, Doris, brother Smith, WWFJr., Anita Stuart (Mrs. Malcolm Baker)
Scrapbook #56
Ella Cochrum Fondren #24, 34, 32
Group #3f: WWFJr., Doris, WWFIII, Elly, Dossy
Group #41: Sue, Camille, Dossy, Tom, Peter, David, Walter, Elly, Bryan
Catherine Fondren's wedding to Milton Underwood #33: identifiable are Mrs. J. Horace Luckie, Sue, Catherine, Doris, Mary Trammell (W.B.'s sister), Mary Stanford Campbell, Dossy (Mary Doris Fondre)-flower girl
Group #39: Mrs. Cochrum, Sue, Walter Fondren Trammell, Mrs. Fondren
Walter William Fondren, Jr. #1f, with WWFIII #12f
#X
Group #13f: Bishop Hiram Boaz, Bishop Charles C. Selecman, Bishop John M. Moore, Mrs. WWF, granddaughter [?], 1 unidentified
Group #15f: WWFJr. Family
Ella Fondren #30f
Walter William Fondren #59, 31f
[Following are oversize photographs that have been removed and placed in vault, lower upright picture case]
#17 Catherine Fondren Underwood, Milton R. Underwood, WWF Jr., Doris Ledwidge Fondren, Wash Bryan Trammell, Sue Fondren Trammell (photographed in the entrance of the Fondren house on Montrose Blvd.)
#18 Catherine Camille Fondren, Ellanor Ann Fondren, WWF III, Doris Fondren Allday, Robert Edwin Allday (baby), Edwin Allday, Sue Trammell, Peter Underwood, Bryan Trammell, David Underwood, Thomas Stephen Trammell (photographed in the Fondren house on Montrose Blvd., Christmas ) 1950
#19 Walter William Fondren (oval frame)
#20 Catherine Fondren (oval frame)
Mrs. W.W. Fondren (2 color photographs, Gittings, c. 1955
Mrs. Fondren with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, inscribed, (framed) c. 1972
W.W. and Ella Fondren (2 large color photographs hanging in entrance of Fondren Library, Rice University)
Fondren Library, SMU (matted photograph)
Methodist Hospital (aerial photograph)
SMU assorted photos
[oversize visuals removed and placed in vault, lower upright picture case]
Fondren Science Hall, Southwest University, Georgetown, TX; rendering
3 unidentified university buildings; renderings
Michael DeBakey sketch, inscribed to Mrs. Fondren (framed)
Fondren Hall, Scarritt College, Nashville, TN; matted rendering
Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX; 2 renderings

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Box
3-7 SERIES II: Philanthropic - Awards, recognition, memorials, 1939-76
This series includes Mrs. Fondren's certificates, plaques, resolutions, awards, citations, honorary degrees with academic hoods, with programs, newsclippings, commemorative albums related to Rice's Fondren Library dedication, Southern Methodist University, and Methodist Hospital (Houston), among others.
Box
3 A Tribute to Mrs. Walter William Fondren, SMU, 2-4-57
Variety Club of Houston Heart Award and Installation Dinner Honoring Mrs. W.W. Fondren, 2-11-65
Variety Club of Houston Heart Personality for [plaque removed to oversize Box 7] 1964
Kinkaid School appreciation certificates/photos for Mrs. WWF Fondren Foundation, 1958
Resolutions: Mr. & Mrs. W.W. Fondren
Resolutions: Mr. W.W. Fondren
Resolution: Mr. W.W. Fondren from Humble Oil & Refinery, [removed to oversize box 7] 1939
Memorial to WWF from Board of Directors of the National Bank of Commerce of Houston, 1-10-39
Correspondence re: tributes and awards
Box
4 Child Guidance Center appreciation on the formal dedication, 1961
Institute of Opthamology Distinguished Service Award, 1969
Rice University Associates Life Member Award, 1964
Council of Churches of Greater Houston Churchman's Award, 1957
Assorted citations, 1946-62
Southern Methodist University honorary Doctor of Laws, 1965
Southern Methodist University Alumni Association Associate Member Award, 1950
National Conference of Christians and Jews Testimonial/appreciation, 1952
Rotary Club Distinguished Citizen Award, [removed and added to vault, lower upright picture case] 1973
Box
5 Academic hoods for honorary degrees, Mrs. W.W. Fondren
Box
6 Assorted programs
Misc. newsclips, Methodist Hospital materials
Dedication Proceedings, The Fondren Library, SMU, 6-4-40
Fondren and Brown Buildings, Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, progress of construction with photos/information 1965-
Groundbreaking Ceremonies, SMU Health Center, 2-4-59
Sister Ella's poem, (plaque) 1976
Box
7 SMU assorted photos
Variety Club of Houston Heart Personality for (plaque for Mrs. WWF) 1964
Good Samaritan Club, Methodist Hospital, membership certificate for Mrs. WWF)
Resolution: WWF from Humble Oil & Refinery, 1939
Methodist Hospital commemorative album-Mrs. WWF honored as Life Member of Board of Trustees, 1969
Fondren Library, Rice University, dedication program
[oversize visuals located in vault, lower upright picture case]
Photographs
#17 Catherine Fondren Underwood, Milton R. Underwood, WWF Jr., Doris Ledwidge Fondren, Wash Bryan Trammell, Sue Fondren Trammell (photographed in the entrance of the Fondren house on Montrose Blvd.)
#18 Catherine Camille Fondren, Ellanor Ann Fondren, WWF III, Doris Fondren Allday, Robert Edwin Allday (baby), Edwin Allday, Sue Trammell, Peter Underwood, Bryan Trammell, David Underwood, Thomas Stephen Trammell (photographed in the Fondren house on Montrose Blvd., Christmas ) 1950
#19 Walter William Fondren (oval frame)
#20 Catherine Fondren (oval frame)
Mrs. W.W. Fondren (2 color photographs, Gittings, ) c. 1955
Mrs. Fondren with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, inscribed, (framed) c. 1972
W.W. and Ella Fondren (2 large framed color photographs hanging in entrance of Fondren Library, Rice University)
Fondren Library, SMU (matted photograph)
Methodist Hospital (aerial photograph)
Miscellaneous
Rotary Club Distinguished Citizen Award, 1973
Fondren Science Hall, Southwest University, Georgetown, TX; rendering
3 unidentified university buildings; renderings
Michael DeBakey sketch, inscribed to Mrs. Fondren (framed)
Fondren Hall, Scarritt College, Nashville, TN; matted rendering

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