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Suada Redzematovic
Emilie Limberg (1884–1973).
Emilie Limberg has been credited as the first deputy county clerk in the state of Texas. She began working in the Travis County clerk's office in 1905 and was elected to the office of county clerk in 1934. Courtesy Austin History Center and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

LIMBERG, EMILIE JOSEPHINE (1884–1973). Emilie Josephine Limberg, first deputy county clerk in Texas and the first woman elected to an office in Travis County, was born on April 1, 1884, in Massillon, Ohio, to woodcarver and German immigrant George Limberg (1840–1902) and Johanna (Rueter) Becker Limberg (1839–1926). Her parents arrived in the United States at an unknown date; her mother’s first husband died in Germany. Johanna Limberg had four children (Gertrude, Ann, Frederick, and Carl) from her former marriage and three more children (William, Emilie, and Harry) with George. When Emilie was an infant, her parents moved the family to Austin, where her father was employed in building the state Capitol. After the completion of the Capitol building, George Limberg went into cabinet making and bought land in town on 2000 University Avenue, where he and his wife Johanna built a house for the family. Emilie attended Wooldridge Elementary School and Austin High School. 

Emilie Limberg’s father died on June 25, 1902, when she was a junior in high school. Knowing she had to help support the family, she enrolled in Griffith’s Commercial College in Austin and subsequently went to work for the law firm A.O. Sandbo and John E. Shelton. Recommended by Shelton to the county clerk’s office, Limberg began working at the Travis County clerk’s office in 1905; she was the first female deputy county clerk in the state. She worked as deputy clerk for about twenty-nine years, having been promoted to chief deputy clerk in 1925. In 1934 she decided to run for county clerk when the incumbent clerk died and the interim clerk did not run for the office. Many businessmen encouraged her to run. She faced three men and one woman in the election. Emilie Limberg and her female rival ran in a run-off, and Limberg, a Democrat, was elected county clerk in 1934. She was the first woman elected to an office in Travis County and ran, most of the time unopposed, for twelve more election cycles. 

Emilie Limberg (1884–1973).
Travis County Clerk Emilie Limberg (ca. 1960s). Courtesy Austin History Center and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

She was known around the office as “Miss Emilie,” and her dependable reputation caused state legislators to consult with her about new laws relating to county governance. The county clerk’s office was charged with keeping deeds, marriage licenses, births and deaths in the county, dental certificates, nurse certificates, embalmers certificates, chattel mortgages, and many other records.  In 1940 Governor W. Lee O’Daniel named her chief of the Selective Service registration office, and she registered 17,500 men for the armed service. Limberg was honored with the Texas State Historical Survey Committee and Texas Historical Foundation Citation for Distinguished Service in 1966. She helped the profitability of the county clerk’s office and lost money only one year, when she permitted the waiver of veterans’ payments on certain services. During her long tenure, she witnessed the transition of record-keeping practices from handwritten logs into microfilm records.

 Emilie Limberg retired in 1970 after serving as county clerk for more than six decades. The Travis County Commissioners Court proclaimed April 1, 1970, as “Miss Emilie Limberg Day” to celebrate her many years of service. The remaining years of her life were spent at 2000 University Avenue in the same house her parents had built for her family. She died on August 18, 1973, at Shoal Creek Hospital in Austin, and her funeral was held in St. Martin’s Lutheran Church. She was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery.


“Emancipation and Participation: Early Office Holders,” Austin History Center (http://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/emancipation-and-participation-early-office-holders-54447), accessed January 16, 2018. Vertical Files, Austin History Center.

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Suada Redzematovic, "LIMBERG, EMILIE JOSEPHINE ," accessed August 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flimb.

Uploaded on January 29, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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