These mid nineteenth century menus located in the Hospitality Industry Archives, at the Hilton College of the University of Houston reveal a treasure trove of historical information. The menus relate not only the regional cuisine of the particular restaurant but also show some of the cultural and social norms of society. The menus are from hotel restaurants, stand-alone restaurants and steamships.
Get into the swing of high society with Houston debutante Gladys Ewing in 1911. This digital collection represents Miss Ewing’s own scrapbook, commemorating social events and personal engagements through ornate invitations, gift cards, handwritten diary entries, and news clippings from the society pages. Created when she was 18 years old, her scrapbook contains 95 pages of material dated mostly from November 1911 to February 1912.
The daughter of Judge Presley Kittredge Ewing and philanthropist/activist Mary Ellen Ewing, Gladys Ewing served as Maid of Honor to the Queen of the No-Tsu-Oh Carnival, an annual festival in Houston that featured formal balls and parades. (The word No-Tsu-Oh is Houston spelled backwards.) The scrapbook includes telegrams congratulating her on this crowning appointment, as well as newspaper photos, beautifully graphic notecards with ribbons and pressed flowers still intact, and Miss Ewing’s explanatory notes written on the pages.
Some of the brief diary entries recall trips out of town, swim parties, automobile rides, dinners, and other social events – almost always including the names of other guests. One such entry comprises a list of Miss Ewing’s many gentleman callers on Christmas Eve. The scrapbook also contains a four-page “gift registry” of sorts, in which Miss Ewing wrote little poetic rhymes about gifts received and the people who sent them.
This collection contains photographs documenting the life and times of Blanche Espy Chenoweth, a lecturer, writer, and voice on the radio who covered topics related to women’s social customs, homemaking, and general well-being. The photographs of Chenoweth, her family and friends, and her travels give a glimpse of American life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The digital collection includes 67 photographs and a 48-page scrapbook.
The photographs, including those found in the scrapbook, include formal portraits and snapshots. Many of the portraits provide examples of formal dress and photographic customs from the time period, including dresses worn for graduations and weddings. In contrast, the snapshots show life unscripted. These snapshots include groups of friends and colleagues, travels across the American Southwest, and picnics, sports, and other social outings. Much of the information about the photographs comes from notes included in the archival collection that houses the materials, the Blanche Espy Chenoweth Papers.
Chenoweth was born in Iowa in 1875 and spent the last 25 years of her life in Houston, prior to her death in 1960. Throughout her adult life she lived and travelled in various cities giving lectures on women’s dress and grooming and their importance in a happy life. In the 1920s, she lectured and wrote on the problems of women at the Chautauqua Institute in New York, and in the 1930s she had a radio program in Chicago which gave advice on women’s personal problems. During this time she also wrote an advice column for a newspaper.
The Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters collection contains issues of newsletters and similar periodicals from thirteen feminist and lesbian organizations and community groups from Houston, Austin, and other areas of Texas. These publications highlight the political, social, and cultural interests of the various organizations and groups, primarily during the 1970s and 1980s. These groups were concerned with such topics as women’s equality, gay and lesbian rights, and sexual and domestic violence.
Among the specific topics addressed in these publications are the Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX, and a number of local and national elections. Relevant issues and events, such as appearances by popular and sometimes controversial activists and celebrities, equal rights negotiations with businesses, offensive fraternity hijinks, and the portrayal of women in popular culture, are also documented. Some periodicals provide information about networking and social opportunities.
The individual publications contained in this collection include the newsletters of various chapters of the National Organization for Women, the Texas Women’s Political Caucus, and the Houston organization Womynspace. Other Houston-area publications include Pointblank Times and Breakthrough.
The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.
This digital collection contains the pages of several scrapbooks that document the social and political activities of Mary Ellen Ewing during the early 20th century. Newspaper clippings and correspondence detail Mrs. Ewing’s many endeavors on behalf of education reform, the women’s suffrage movement, child welfare programs, and improving labor conditions. The collection’s 163 items span the years 1900-1917, with the bulk of the material coming from the year 1913.
Married to Judge Presley Kittredge Ewing, who served as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Mrs. Ewing was a successful philanthropist and activist in her own right. She served as an officer for the Harris County Equal Suffrage Association; the Child Welfare League; the State Congress of Mothers (forerunner of the Parent-Teachers Association, or PTA); and the Harris County Humane Society. She was also an inventor who was granted patents for a street sweeper to improve sanitation in the city.
Highlights of the collection include dozens of newspaper articles from the Houston Chronicle and Houston Daily Post about the push for better conditions in public schools and the addition of women to the school board. Letters to and from Mrs. Ewing further illustrate her involvement and importance in these and other social causes, both on the local and state levels. Personal mementos from the scrapbooks include postcards, birthday greeting cards, and photos of the Ewing house.
This extensive digital collection documents the activities of Minnie Fisher Cunningham and other leading suffragists who pushed for equal voting rights for women, culminating in the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Dated mostly from 1917-1919, the materials include correspondence, pamphlets, flyers, speeches, newspaper articles, photographs, and legislative measures. Many of the 518 items in the collection contain multiple pages.
Minnie Fisher Cunningham was elected president of the Galveston Equal Suffrage Association in 1910 and toured Texas to speak for the cause. She subsequently served as president of the Texas Woman Suffrage Association, opened state suffrage headquarters near the Capitol in Austin, and successfully campaigned for the 1918 legislative approval of woman suffrage in state primary elections. In 1919, the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association persuaded Minnie Cunningham to lobby the United States Congress for the 19th Amendment.
While Minnie Cunningham was based in Texas, the scope of the materials is relevant on both state and national levels. Correspondence among the suffragists details the struggles and strategies to advance the movement; highlights include letters to and from President Woodrow Wilson, acknowledging his support. Flyers, press releases, and other printed materials illustrate the activities of groups and conferences such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the Texas Woman Suffrage Association, and the League of Women Voters.
Copies of the Texas Constitution, a Texas House bill, and a resolution by the Texas Legislature demonstrate the movement’s progress in the state. Newspaper articles, magazine essays, and printed speeches further present the many voices and opinions surrounding the issue of equal voting rights around the country.
Of particular interest are three published, one-act plays: the 32-page Back of the Ballot: A Woman Suffrage Farce in One Act by George Middleton; the 31-page Jonathan's Night Shirt: A Farce in One Act by Ferdinanda Wesselhoeft Reed; and the 17-page Uncle Sam's Daughters and What They Have Done: A Pictorial Fantasy in One Act and One Scene by Augusta Raymond Kidder.
The collection also includes wartime pamphlets regarding resource conservation as it pertains to food, complete with recipes using wheat substitutes and sugar substitutes.
This collection of recordings documents the University of Houston Women’s Studies Living Archives series. The collection provides access to the videos of the Living Archives panel discussions, which cover such diverse topics as women in sports, female politicians, women and religion, motherhood, and breast cancer survival. Individual interviews with notable Houston women, including former mayor Kathy Whitmire, women’s activist Nikki Van Hightower, and former city councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley, are also a part of the collection.
The Living Archives events are panel discussions and interviews with topics covering diverse aspects of women’s lives in Houston and the issues that affect them, and the public events are held multiple times a year. They are sponsored by the University of Houston Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and the Friends of Women’s Studies. The University of Houston Women’s Studies Living Archives Recordings contain recordings of events beginning in 2005, and additional recordings will be added to the collection on a regularly basis.