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AMERICAN HISTORY CLUB

AMERICAN HISTORY CLUB. On December 1, 1893, eight women met in the Austin home of Mrs. Thomas F. Taylor to form a club for the study of American history and literature. Mrs. Taylor had been a newspaper correspondent and drama critic in Washington, D.C., who on her return to Austin in 1883 foresaw the good influence women could exert in a community. At the first meeting a temporary organization was set up, membership was limited to fifteen, and a bylaws committee and program committee were appointed. At the second meeting Mrs. Taylor was elected president, and the constitution was adopted. Meetings were held every other week, a practice that lasted until World War II. Members presented papers and answered roll call with information on the topic of study.

In 1897 the club printed a yearbook that listed programs presented during the organization's first five years. In that same year the club became a charter member of the newly established Texas Federation of Women's Literary Clubs. On March 5, 1897, the treasurer purchased a trunk for $1.50. All papers were to be placed in the trunk, and any member who failed to deposit her paper would be fined one dollar. The trunk was kept by members until it was placed in the Austin Travis County Collection, now the Austin History Center.

Membership limits had increased to twenty-five by 1914 and were eventually set at thirty. Interests of the club broadened to include the arts and civic, educational, and philanthropic concerns, as well as history. The club's contributions were important in establishing the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs headquarters in Austin, in increasing the number and quality of recitals and art lectures at the University of Texas, in establishing Big Bend National Park, and in endowing the Austin Public Library. The club lobbied for increased school taxes in 1902 and for improved dairy sanitation in 1915. Between 1925 and 1929 the club worked with a women's-club organization that acquired the Ira H. Evans home for the Austin Woman's Club. With the advent of World War II, the club's lecture topics began to reflect an interest in international affairs; papers were presented on Germany, China, Japan, and the Soviet Union. This trend continued into the 1950s and early 1960s, when lecture topics included United States relations with Latin America and Canada, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, and the exploration of space. By the mid-1960s, however, the club returned to more traditional themes drawn from early American history, biography, and culture. Afterward, club fare reflected an interest in science, medicine, technology, and social issues.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

American History Club Papers, Austin History Center.

Helen B. Frantz

Citation

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

Helen B. Frantz, "AMERICAN HISTORY CLUB," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/vta01), accessed July 13, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.