Herbert Gambrell

PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF TEXAS. The Philosophical Society of Texas was founded on December 5, 1837, by twenty-six Texans who met in the capitol of the Republic of Texas at Houston. The purpose of the organization was stated as "the collection and diffusion of correct information regarding the moral and social condition of our country; its finances, statistics and political and military history; its climate, soil and productions...animals...aboriginal tribes...natural curiosities...mines...and the thousand other topics of interest which our new and rising republic unfolds to the philosopher, the scholar, and the man of the world." The founders urged that Texas make herself as resplendent for the acts that adorned civilized life as she was "glorious in military renown." Charter members included Mirabeau B. Lamar (president); Ashbel Smith, Robert A. Irion, Anson Jones, Joseph Rowe, and David S. Kaufman (vice presidents); William Fairfax Gray, David G. Burnet (secretaries); Augustus C. Allen (treasurer); John Birdsall (librarian); Thomas Jefferson Rusk, William H. Wharton, Angus McNeill, George W. Bonnell, Joseph Baker, Patrick C. Jack, John A. Wharton, James Collinsworth, Littleton Fowler, Albert C. Horton, John W. Bunton, Edward T. Branch, Henry Smith, Hugh McLeod, Thomas Jefferson Chambers, and Sam Houston. Occasional meetings were held during the annual sessions of the Congress of the Republic of Texas, but the society became inactive before annexation and the end of the republic in 1845.

In 1935 the organization was revived by George Waverly Briggs, James Quayle Dealey, Herbert P. Gambrell, Samuel Wood Geiser, Umphrey Lee, Charles Shirley Potts, Ira Kendrick Stephens, Lucius Mirabeau Lamar IV, William Alexander Rhea, and William Embry Wrather. It was chartered on January 18, 1936, as a nonprofit educational corporation, the purpose of which was to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men who founded the original society and to encourage research and the preservation of historical, literary, and philosophical documents and materials. Membership was by invitation and was limited to persons who were born within or had resided in the geographical boundaries of the Republic of Texas and who had contributed to the achievement of the original aims of the society. Bylaws provided for 100 active members and fifty associate members and permitted the election of not more than twenty-five non-Texan members. The only foreign or non-Texan member elected up to 1949 was Alcée Louis La Branche, who was United States chargé d'affaires to the republic in 1837. By the 1990s the bylaws, which had been amended several times, allowed for 200 active members and varying numbers of emeritus and associate members. Active member dues called for a $50 initiation fee and annual dues of $100. The Philosophical Society had its office in the Hall of State in Dallas upon its reorganization, and by the 1990s the office was in Austin. At that time the society continued to hold meetings on or near December 5 of each year. Meeting sites have included Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Lufkin, College Station, Nacogdoches, Fort Clark, and Salado. Sessions begin at dinner on Friday evening and are followed by an address. Saturday features a daylong series of symposiums on topics of current interest; there is also an after-dinner address. Since 1937 the Philosophical Society of Texas has published an annual volume of Proceedings.

Presidents between 1935 and 1949 were (in chronological order) Ira Kendrick Stephens, Charles Shirley Potts, Edgar Odell Lovett, George Bannerman Dealey, George Waverly Briggs, William James Battle, George Alfred Hill, Jr., Edward Henry Cary, Edward Randall, Sr., Umphrey Lee, and Eugene Perry Locke. Presidents in this period also included Louis Herman Hubbard, Pat Ireland Nixon, Ima Hogg, and Albert Perley Brogan. Presidents from 1950 through 1995 (again in chronological order) have been William Lockhart Clayton, A. Frank Smith, Ernest Lynn Kurth, and Dudley Kezer Woodward, Jr. Others were Burke Baker, Jesse Andrews, James Pinckney Hart, Robert Gerald Storey, and Lewis Randolph Bryan, Jr., as well as W. St. John Garwood, George Crews McGhee, Harry Huntt Ransom, Eugene Benjamin Germany, Rupert Norval Richardson, and Mrs. George Alfred Hill, Jr. (Mary Van Den Berge Hill). Other presidents during this time were Edward Randall, Jr., McGruder Ellis Sadler, William Alexander Kirkland, as well as Richard Tudor Fleming, Herbert P. Gambrell, Harris Kempner, Carey G. Croneis, Willis McDonald Tate, Dillon Anderson, Logan Wilson, Edward Clark, Thomas H. Law, Truman G. Blocker, Jr., Frank E. Vandiver, Price Daniel, Durwood Fleming, Charles A. LeMaistre, Abner V. McCall, Leon Jaworski, Wayne H. Holtzman, Jenkins Garrett, Joe R. Greenhill, William Pettus Hobby, Jr., Elspeth Rostow, John Clifton Caldwell, J. Chrys Dougherty, Frank McReynolds Wozencraft, William C. Levin, William D. Seybold, Robert Krueger, Steven Weinberg, and William H. Crook. A membership of approximately 200 has been maintained through the years. Recent meeting topics included the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Superconducting Super Collider.


Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1937. Telegraph and Texas Register, January 13, 1838. Dorman H. Winfrey, comp., A History of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1837–1987 (Austin: Philosophical Society of Texas, 1987).

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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, Herbert Gambrell, "PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF TEXAS," accessed September 24, 2018,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 2, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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