While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Leta Proctor Baughn

WOMAN'S CLUB OF SAN ANTONIO. The Woman's Club of San Antonio was established by Mary Eleanor Brackenridge and Marin B. Fenwick after they attended a National Federation of Women's Clubs meeting in Denver, Colorado. It was organized with eighteen charter members on October 1, 1898, in the San Antonio Express Publishing building. The club was established to provide a nonpolitical, nonsectarian group for women seeking knowledge, culture, and comradeship. Its stated purpose was "mutual improvement and cooperation in all that pertains to the greater good of humanity," its motto, "Not For Self, But for All." The gavel used at the club's first meeting was carved from the branch of a tree that grew by the side of the Alamo. Brackenridge served for seven years as the club's first president. The club was admitted to the state federation in 1899, to the national federation in 1904, incorporated in 1920, and affiliated with clubs in New York, Michigan, England, and France.

Club departments encouraged sewing, manual training, and cooking in the public school curriculum, organized a Mother's Club that became the Parent-Teacher Association, supported the Protestant Orphan's Home, endorsed the Homestead Law, awarded scholarships, and raised funds to save the Spanish governor's palace in Military Plaza. In 1910 the club sponsored an art exhibit at the Carnegie Library that led to the formation of the Art League, and later the club purchased a painting by Julian Onderdonk.

The Woman's Club of San Antonio was first in the state to endorse woman suffrage. It promoted establishing a juvenile court, the use of matrons in city jails, and the hiring of policewomen. It succeeded in altering the city charter to allow women on the school board, obtained passage of a health ordinance prohibiting spitting, demanded that stores close at 6 p.m. to preserve family time and that female clerks be allowed to sit when not making sales, and discouraged development of a dance hall at Brackenridge Park. The first local radio talk show originated from the Women's Club. Members distributed flower seeds and plants, established gardens for the poor, and established a city flower show in 1913. From the first Round Table luncheon organized by Mrs. Fred Maule, more than twelve separate groups developed by the 1980s. The first club publication, the Scribbler, was produced under the auspices of the City Federation of Women's Clubs and was published by the Scribbler's Round Table; Sallie King Hopkins was editor. The first permanent clubhouse was purchased in 1916, and a private home was acquired to serve as a clubhouse in 1926. By 1989 the club had seven departments and a membership of 260.


Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929–1939 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984). Files, Woman's Club of San Antonio. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Brackenridge, Eleanor; Women's Clubs)

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Leta Proctor Baughn, "WOMAN'S CLUB OF SAN ANTONIO," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/pww02.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on July 25, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...