Although many of the popular stories about Southern states, like Texas, focus on romantic wars and battles, around the turn of the 20th Century these states began a transformation that linked them into a sense of civic responsibility and a broader national consciousness.  Such is the case with the Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi, Texas.  Originally founded in 1897 as a literary club, the organization soon aligned itself with political action and both the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs (1901) and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1903).  This state and national connection opened channels of communication for their local affiliates, which encouraged activity and education between the local groups.

The Woman’s Monday Club members found avenues for expression of their social concerns in a multitude places including education, parks and recreation, sanitation and fundraising for local urban safety measures.  Among their activities, the club members undertook the preservation of Artesian Park in downtown Corpus Christi, originally an artesian well and Mexican American War campsite for General Zachary Taylor’s troops. 

As part of the early focus on public sanitation, the club members petitioned the city council to remove fish houses and saloons from the city’s beaches.  These establishments, like Upton Sinclair’s meatpacking plants, paid no attention to hygienic food preparation.  The national push toward literacy and education led the club to tailor federation messages to meet local needs by holding children’s story hours, purchasing a baby grand piano for the local high school and rewarding Mexican-American students five-dollar gold pieces upon high school graduation.  To improve urban safety, the club aided in the purchase of the city’s first “chemical” fire engine. 

During both World War I and World War II, the club sponsored and participated in activities to support our troops and our country.  Among these activities were good will visits to wounded soldiers at home front hospitals, Red Cross support and the selling of war bonds.  Club members were also among those Americans that lost family members to the cause.  As a result of this sacrifice, member founded the national organization The Gold Star Honor Court.

In addition, many club members held regional, state and national positions in the federations including life board member, president and vice president in the Texas Federation and multiple national committee chair positions.  Studying the Woman’s Monday Club shows local women did not lose their autonomy, as some historians suggest.  Instead, their federation memberships allowed them the strength to increase awareness about their localized concerns by joining other communities of women with similar objectives.

 

Jessica Brannon-Wranosky

This summary was modified from an Abstract of the paper “Tailoring the Message: The Progressive Era Reform of the Woman’s Monday Club of Corpus Christi, Texas” delivered at the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference on September 20, 2003.

 

 

 

Pictured left to right: Carrie Lichtenstein,

Mrs. V__ey Taylor, Mrs. Abell


Corpus Christi Public Libraries     805 Comanche     Corpus Christi, TX 78401

Tel: (361) 826-7000       Fax (361)  826-7046        Email:  library@cclibraries.com

Last Update: June 2008     ©2008  Corpus Christi Public Libraries