Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi

By: Alexander Ootunna Turner

Type: General Entry

Published: June 4, 2021

Updated: June 4, 2021


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The Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi (also called the Monday Club) was founded on February 14, 1897, at the home of Ella Dickinson Scott on 223 South Broadway, Corpus Christi, Texas. Nine White women, including Scott and one visitor, attended the charter meeting, but the club quickly grew over the following years to its self-imposed limit of thirty members. The purposefully exclusive nature of its membership and the continual civic influence of the club and its members made the Woman’s Monday Club relatively elite within the local region’s White social circles. Scott, and other members, including later club presidents Ida Durand Redmond, Carrie Lichtenstein, and Lillie Rankin, were well-connected either through family or marriage or both. In 1899 Scott was elected as the club’s first president, though as the club’s founder, she had informally served in that capacity since 1897. In 1901 the club officially joined the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs (TFWC), the state affiliate of the national General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Like many federated women’s clubs, the Woman’s Monday Club was originally founded as a literary club and increasingly became involved in civic matters over time. Its members, however, maintained a literary focus well into the 1960s, with lectures and discussions at the forefront of some of the group’s meetings each month. The entire membership studied and members presented on various topics related to the club’s study plan for each year. Subjects over the years included the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson; current political and cultural debates such as city improvements; imperialism; issues of mental and physical health; and, as the Vietnam War escalated in 1963, combatting communism. The club also invited guest speakers. In 1940 they invited Capt. William A. Rettig of the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, to speak on China, where he had previously been stationed.

One of the club’s first civic initiatives was to have a public Carnegie Library constructed in Corpus Christi. This initiative began in 1899 as part of the TFWC’s concentration on libraries. Though the effort fell short, through this endeavor the women demonstrated their willingness to exert their influence and privileged status publicly as social advocates in the community, which was indicative for the Progressive Era. Their influence carried over to the closely allied La Retama Club, whose membership consisted of the unwed daughters of the Monday Club. Established 1905, the La Retama Club subsequently fulfilled the Monday Club’s efforts to establish a community library when the La Retama Library successfully opened in 1909. Members of the Woman’s Monday Club actively contributed to the new library‘s success with the implementation of a story hour for children; donations of books from their extensive personal libraries, which included rare titles important to the South Texas region; and support for library-focused organizations such as the Friends of the Corpus Christi Public Libraries.

Another early Monday Club project was the Ladies Pavilion, which the women made possible through the sale of stock shares. Completed in 1903, the pavilion was initially located over the water between Schatzell and Peoples streets (near today’s Peoples Street T-Head). Before destroyed by a hurricane in 1916 (see HURRICANES), it routinely served as a vibrant communal gathering place and host to statewide conventions of the Texas Press Association, the Texas Bankers Association, the Texas Medical Association, and the Methodist Epworth League. In 1908 the Monday Club pursued the enlargement and improvement of the historical Artesian Park, where the U. S. Army under Gen. Zachary Taylor’s command was encamped in 1846 leading up to military campaigns during the Mexican War (see FORT MARCY). At times their efforts regarding Artesian Park led to tension with the Corpus Christi city council and other local male leaders over which group controlled the property and held the right to make modifications of the park. As civic leaders prior to the passage of a woman suffrage amendment, Woman’s Monday Club members could not vote or run for city council, so their power and influence over government officeholders was limited (see WOMEN AND POLITICS). The organization also helped establish a World War I memorial on the bluff at Spohn Park in Corpus Christi.

Woman’s Monday Club members also served as “municipal housekeepers” and sought reforms to address Corpus Christi’s health and sanitation concerns such as mosquito eradication to improve public health and curb the yellow fever epidemics that often plagued the Texas Gulf Coast. Similarly, the club pursued the removal of seafood processing facilities as well as saloons to beautify the bayfront, decrease health hazards, and deter vagrancy in the city. Following the passage of the state’s Blanton Pure Food Law in 1907, Monday Club members served as part of an army of TFWC volunteers who were deputized as local food inspectors under the direction of Commissioner John S. Abbot of the Department of the Texas Dairy and Food Commissioner (later the Pure Food and Drug Bureau under the State Board of Health, then the Texas Department of Health). According to historian Jessica Brannon-Wranosky, Monday Club women routinely inspected dairies, meat-packing plants, and bakeries in the Corpus Christi area and made demands that stipulated necessary changes, such as “the additions of screens to windows,” for proper sanitation. The women made subsequent visits to ensure compliance to their previous requests. In other efforts to keep the community safe, the Monday Club raised funds in 1908 for a chemical firetruck to fight fires that reached beyond the city’s water supply, and, along with several hundred other Corpus Christi club women, they volunteered time to inspect the houses of fellow club members for fire hazards and educate them on fire safety.

Education remained perhaps the chief priority among members of the Woman’s Monday Club. In order to fulfill this objective, the women of the club established several scholarship funds, gave financial loans, and contributed to community education programs. In 1911 the club purchased a grand piano for the local high school with money raised through club events like cantatas, lawn parties, dances, and fundraisers. During Ida Redmond’s tenure as Monday Club president, the club awarded five dollar gold pieces to every Mexican American high school graduate in the city to promote education.

During World War II, the organization purchased war bonds, knitted supplies for the Red Cross, raised funds for the local blood bank, and completely equipped a local first aid casualty station, for which they made thousands of bandages. They also sponsored the education of a cadet nurse, for which they were given a Nursing War Service Award and an award from the United Service Organizations (USO). After the war, their philanthropic work included raising funds for scholarships, United Way, the Red Cross, and the YWCA, and they contributed to the tidelands defense fund to help the Texas government lobby congressional support during the tidelands controversy (see TIDELANDS CONTROVERSY). They also petitioned Corpus Christi city government to hire a city planner to create a city beautification plan. In 1969 they invited a local judge to explain women’s legal rights after passage of the Texas Matrimonial Property Law in 1967 and subsequent changes to family law. In 1990 Corpus Christi’s mayor Betty Turner recognized the group for their support of local and statewide heritage in a city proclamation. The Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi observed its centennial in 1997 and continued to hold regularly scheduled meetings into the twenty-first century.

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Jessica S. Brannon-Wranosky, The Civic Development in Corpus Christi, Texas, By the Woman’s Monday Club From 1897–1913 (M.A. thesis, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 2004). Jessica Brannon-Wranosky, “The History,” Woman’s Monday Club (http://obc.cclibraries.com/MondayClub/history.htm), accessed December 11, 2020. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, December 20, 1911; November 19, 1930; December 8, 1936; July 26, 1939; October 1, 1947; November 18, 1947; April 27, 1948; September 26, 1954; March 13, 1956; December 19, 1961; October 24, 1962; March 31, 1963; October 15, 1967; November 18, 1969; March 26, 2018. Richard B. McCaslin, Donald E. Chipman, and Andrew J. Torget, eds., This Corner of Canaan: Essays on Texas in Honor of Randolph B. Campbell (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2013). Woman’s Monday Club Collection, Corpus Christi Public Libraries, Corpus Christi, Texas.    

Categories:

  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Advocates
  • Civic Leaders
  • Education
  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Organizations
  • Politics and Government
  • Civic and Community Leaders
  • Women
  • Women's Clubs

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II

Places:

  • Southeast Texas
  • Gulf Coast Region
  • Corpus Christi

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Alexander Ootunna Turner, “Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/womans-monday-club-of-corpus-christi.

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June 4, 2021
June 4, 2021

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