Texas Federation of Women's Clubs Collection
Guide to the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs Collection
Originally organized in Waco by twenty-one signatory clubs as the Texas Federation of Literary Clubs with the objective of establishing communication and cooperation between the existing clubs devoted to education and self-improvement. A year later, in 1898, activity had dramatically expanded to include cultural and community improvement, and the name was changed to the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs (TFWC). In 1899, TFWC broadened its scope even further by becoming part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC).
Women's study clubs seeking membership had to be recommended by two existing federated clubs, and were encouraged to focus study and activity on broad general areas such as education, public affairs, international affairs, conservation and the arts. However, they were at liberty to chose their own local programs and projects under these guidelines. With the motto "If you can't find a club, found one," multiple clubs were organized in almost every community. As they joined the federation, they were not required to adopt a common name which has made it difficult to identify which clubs were federated and has kept in the organization from receiving the recognition it might otherwise have achieved. Several organizations have come out of the network originally formed in TFWC such as the mothers' clubs, the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, the garden clubs, home demonstration clubs, the Joint Legislative Council, and the Organization for Women in Safety.
In 1898, TFWC resolved to work for the establishment of public libraries and claims that 85% of all public libraries in Texas were founded by TFWC clubs. TFWC has also been instrumental in the establishment of what is now Texas Woman's University, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park, and Big Bend National Park. It has influenced legislation regarding child labor, juvenile courts, pure food, women's property rights, jury service for women, and traffic and highway safety. Philanthropic support has been extended to the Elisabet Ney Museum, the Alabama-Coushatta indians, the Gonzalez Warm Springs Foundation, and the Crippled Children's Hospital at Marlin.
Responding to international concerns, TFWC sponsored five recreational canteens for servicemen based in Texas during World War I and supported the GFWC canteen in France. During World War II, efforts were expanded to include scrap salvage campaigns, collecting nylon stockings for parachutes, encouraging food preservation, and the sale of war bonds. TFWC responded so enthusiastically to a CARE campaign to send used clothing to Austria in the early 1950s, they were asked to stop after only six months. Other projects have included goodwill tours south of the border, scholarships for Latin American students, libraries for Peruvian schools (Texas's Alliance for Progress partner), and the Heifer Project.
Educational assistance has been a major TFWC philanthropy. Scholarships have been funded at various colleges and universities in the state beginning with the 1903 scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin. The organization itself also awards numerous scholarships directly through the Scholarship Committee. Almost every local club and district also awards scholarships. Since reporting is not mandatory, accurate figures are impossible to calculate, but hundreds of thousands of dollars are given annually through these various entities. In 1998, TFWC began offering a research fellowship at Texas Woman's University's Woman's Collection.
In 1930, the organization embarked on building a headquarters building which opened in 1933 at a cost of $157,000. Financed during the height of the depression, TFWC struggled to pay off loans until club woman Clara Driscoll paid off the balance of the building costs in 1939. Boasting national, state, and city historical markers, the impressive, Southern Colonial building provides offices for TFWC officials and staff, meeting rooms, a ballroom/auditorium, and apartments. Since 1978, responsibility for maintaining the building has rested with the TFWC Historical Foundation. for
Correspondence in the Administrations Series forms the bulk of the collection. Personal lives as well as club activity are documented in these letters giving insight into the lives of these women as well as their growing involvment in the public arena. Many women are active in the organization for long periods of time, serving in various capacities through different administrations. A section in this series also includes reports on projects. However, reports may also be found in yearbooks and/or handbooks which are located in the Publication Series.
Club records also comprise a large record group. While the material in each club's files will vary, most will include yearbooks which provide information on meetings, programs, and projects. if there is an large amount of material on an individual club, a separate collection for that club has been established.
There is a separate series on Educational Assistance programs which began in 1902. Applications for the early loans, grants and scholarships offer a unique insight into the aspirations of young women seeking higher education. Files regarding the Headquarters Building, which was authorized in 1930, also comprise a separate Series.
Publications include both meeting programs and state yearbooks which have at various times also been called annuals or directories. Information in these
Access to the Collection:
Open for research.
Publication and Copyright Statements:
Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Coordinator for Special Collections. Where copyright is unclear, all responsibility must be assumed by the user.
Material was collected and housed at the TFWC Headquarters until the organization designated the Woman's Collection as the repository for its archives in 1985. Material has been added on a continuing basis since that time.
Ann McGuffin Barton, Morgan Davis, and Barbara Hotinski, 1997-2007.
Ranu Singhvi, 2008