Contact Us

Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Collection Summary

Administrative History

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Organizational Files, 1955-1992

Subject Files, 1957-1989

Austin History Center

Travis County Democratic Women's Committee Records

An Inventory of the Collection



Collection Summary

Creator: Travis County Democratic Women's Committee
Title: Travis County Democratic Women's Committee Records
Dates: 1955-1992
Dates (Bulk): 1970-1986
Abstract: The Travis County Democratic Women's Committee was established in 1959. Correspondence, minutes, agendas, reports, clippings, newsletters, and printed materials document the organization and its interests, including government, social justice, and education issues.
Accession number: AR.1998.009
Quantity: 5.8 linear feet (15 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

In 1952, a chapter of the Texas Democratic Women's Committee, a statewide organization of women designed to advance the interests of the Democratic Party, was casually organized in Austin, Texas. It was not until 1959 that Dr. Emma Schweppe, a retired Columbia University political science professor, provided leadership for the Austin group to adopt a constitution, elect an executive board, and officially become the Travis County Democratic Women's Committee (TCDWC). The group’s mission was “to stimulate interest in all levels of government, to work for openness, honesty, and accountability in government, to seek fair treatment for all people, and to provide opportunities for political action to accomplish these goals.”

In 1960 the organization began the practice of sending observers to Austin City Council meetings with the goal of being present throughout the sometimes lengthy meetings, especially at times when most other audience members were absent, so as to be aware of activity that might be aimed at special interests. An early fruit of this labor occurred in 1962 when the council, instead of merely accepting a report on garbage collection fees and city employee pay as the agenda stated, took a vote to set new fees and wages with no one in the audience except TCDWC observer Ethel Barrow, whose reporting led to a public outcry. Observers were also sent to meetings of the Austin School Board and the Travis County Commissioners.

From the beginning, one of the main activities of the TCDWC was to screen candidates for public election and make endorsements. The Screening Committee consisted of the Executive Board and the heads of standing committees. Depending on the race, the committee either invited candidates to appear at a panel where TCDWC members posed questions, or sent out questionnaires for analysis. The group mainly focused on political issues at the local and regional level, but it also monitored national and international issues and conveyed its views to national politicians.

The organization was governed by its Executive Board from the beginning, although the titles of the officers changed over time (from chairman and vice chairman to president and 1st and 2nd vice presidents).

Chairmen from the beginning of the organization have been:


  • Dell Sackett/Nella Dieter Cunningham 1956-58
  • Ivy Lowe 1958-60
  • Emma Schweppe 1960-62
  • Sophie Donn 1962-64
  • Carolyn Dunkelberg 1964-66
  • Beverly Sonntag 1966-67
  • Ruth Epstein 1967-70
  • Edith Buss 1970-72
  • Dee Kelley 1972-74
  • Millie di Donato 1973-75
  • Mary Ann Neely 1975-76

Those who have held the office of president during the period covered by these records are:


  • Shirley Rogers 1976-78
  • Anne McAfee 1978-80, 1986-87
  • Edith Buss 1980-82, 1988
  • Ruby Goodwin 1982-84
  • Mary Anne Ramsey 1989
  • Pam Reznick 1990

The Executive Board met weekly at a private home in meetings open to all members, although only board members could vote in these sessions. The committee that screened political candidates had the right to endorse candidates in the name of the membership. In the early 1970s dissension from this policy grew until it resulted in a number of resignations from the organization and an extensive review of the constitution and bylaws. The group that wanted to open the decision-making process to more members felt that the process of endorsement was undemocratic; the faction that wanted to leave endorsements in the hands of an experienced few were fearful of an influx of politically motivated persons who would attempt to influence endorsements just before elections. With the help of a professional parliamentarian and a survey of members’ attitudes, the constitution underwent a major revision in 1976.

In 2005, the organization disbanded. Leftover funds were used to provide small scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing a medical career.

Sources

Graham, Sally Hunter. A Voice for the People: A History of the Travis County Democratic Women’s Committee. Austin, Texas, Travis County Democratic Women’s Committee Education Fund, Inc., 1985.

"Demo Women hang it up...after a half century." Travis County Democratic Women's Committee Newsletter. 7 June 2005, p. 1.

Return to the Table of Contents


Scope and Contents

Correspondence, administrative records, printed material, clippings, and notes document the activities of the Travis County Democratic Women’s Committee (TCDWC). The collection is arranged into organizational files dating from 1955-1992 and subject files dating from 1957-1989.

The first series contains the organizational files of the TCDWC. The general correspondence peaks during the terms of Presidents Edith Buss (1980-82) and Ruby Goodwin (1982-84). These two administrations created nearly half of the records in this series. The bulk of the correspondence concerns the TCDWC informing local politicians of its opinions regarding current events. Letters received from state politicians, though many, are generally routine. The Committee’s history and organizational structure are also included, as well as the original constitution and bylaws (1959) and subsequent revisions (1963, 1970, 1976, and 1983). Labeled chronological files were maintained in their original groupings and added to the general materials. Among the committees within the TCDWC, the Executive Committee produced the most records. It produced 90 percent of these records while performing its candidate screening function. These records include candidate questionnaires and Committee endorsements. Another group of records consists of notes from observers sent to City Council meetings. The bulk of the organizational files were created between 1972 and 1985.

The subject files were grouped by the archivist and arranged alphabetically. Of note is substantial documentation concerning the Austin Geriatric Center/fish hatchery issue. This involved 26.5 acres of land on the north shore of Town Lake, east of Interstate 35, that the city had given to the federal government in 1940 for a fish hatchery. In late 1968, the Department of the Interior declared it surplus and gave the property to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which immediately began the process of selling the land to a nonprofit known as the Austin Geriatrics Center, Inc. (AGC), a partnership of three Austin-based associates of outgoing president Johnson. AGC planned to build a housing and nursing home complex for the elderly poor; however, TCDWC opposed the matter on legal and ethical grounds. At City Council and School Board hearings in 1970, TCDWC fought the transaction but was unsuccessful in preventing it.

Another issue of interest concerns Travis County’s 1979 purchase of the Stokes Building at 11th and Lavaca for expansion of county offices from the overcrowded courthouse nearby. TCDWC argued that bond money had already been voted but never used for adding on to the courthouse annex and that the venture was financially unsound. Other issues documented include abortion, taxation, voter registration, the Equal Legal Rights Amendment, criminal justice reform, public utilities, and nuclear power. Most of the subject files date from the 1970s and 1980s. Six boxes of news clippings (boxes 9-14) are currently unprocessed.

Return to the Table of Contents


Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series:


  • Organizational Files
  • Subject Files

Return to the Table of Contents


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open to all users

Use Restrictions

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

Return to the Table of Contents


Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Donn, Sophie.
Kelley, DeCourcy.
Neely, Mary Ann.
Collier, Lillian.
Buss, Edith.
Goodwin, Ruby.
Di Donato, Millie.
Subjects (Organizations)
Travis County Democratic Women's Committee.
Austin Independent School District (Tex.).
Democratic Party (U.S.).
Subjects
Women--Political activity--Societies, etc.
Elections--Texas--Austin.
Women--Texas--Austin.
Local government.
Municipal bonds.
Places
Austin (Tex.)--Politics and government.
Travis County (Tex.)--Politics and government.
Document Types
Administrative records.
Clippings.
Correspondence.
Agendas.
Minutes.
Membership lists.
Certificates.
Bylaws.
Brochures.
Booklets.
Notes.
Speeches.
Files by subject.

Return to the Table of Contents


Related Material

Austin Files


  • AF Biography - DeCourcy Kelley
  • AF Subject - Political Parties - Travis County Democratic Women’s Committee P5300(9) T

Archives & Manuscripts


Return to the Table of Contents


Separated Material

Periodical Collection


  • Travis County Democratic Women's Committee Newsletter, 1974-2005

Map Collection


  • N-0009-1982 Travis County Election Precincts
  • N-0009-1985 Travis County Election Precincts

The following books and reports were deaccessioned:


  • Ferencz, Benjamin B. & Keyes, Ken, Jr., Planethood. 1988.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1984.
  • 64th Legislature, Informational Booklet on the Proposed 1976 Revision of the Texas Constitution. 1975.
  • Texas Legislative Council, 7 Proposed Constitutional Amendments Analyzed. 1977.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Proposed Constitutional Amendments Analyzed. 1979.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments and Referenda. 1987.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1989.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1985.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1983.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1975.
  • Texas Legislative Council, Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments. 1980.
  • Texas Constitutional Revision Commission, A New Constitution for Texas. 1973.
  • The Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection, Democratic National Committee, Mandate for Reform: A Report of the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection to the Democratic National Committee. 1970.
  • American Civil Liberties Union, The Seeds of Anguish: An ACLU Study of the D.C. Jail. 1972.
  • American Civil Liberties Union, Tension, Change and Liberty: 45th Annual Report. 1964.
  • Texas Department of Agriculture, Wise Shopper's Guide. 1972.
  • American Jewish Congress, The Last Resort: A Citizen's Guide to Nursing Home Reform. 1974.
  • Tolchin, Susan J., Women in Congress: 1917-1976. 1976.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Outdoor Classrooms on School Sites. 1972.
  • Texas State Association of Parliamentarians Directory. 1976-1977.
  • Texas State Association of Parliamentarians Directory. 1977-1978.
  • State Democratic Executive Committee, Rules of the Democratic Party of Texas and Precinct Manual. 1972.
  • State Democratic Executive Committee, Rules of the Democratic Party of Texas and Precinct Manual. 1974.
  • State Democratic Executive Committee, Rules of the Democratic Party of Texas and Precinct Manual. 1978.
  • State Democratic Executive Committee, Rules of the Democratic Party of Texas and Precinct Manual. 1982.
  • State Democratic Executive Committee, Rules of the Democratic Party of Texas and Precinct Manual. 1988.
  • Office of the Secretary of State, Texas Register. 1976.
  • Texas State Democratic Convention, Success in Seventy. 1970.
  • Texas Water Quality Board, A Ready-Reference on Major Texas Water Pollution Control Legislation. 1972.
  • Texas Water Quality Board, A Summary of Water Pollution Control in the State of Texas. 1970.
  • Texas Water Quality Board, First Reader on Water Quality. 1967.
  • Texas Water Quality Board, Second Reader on Water Quality. 1970.
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Park Development Bonds. 1972.
  • The House of Representatives of the State of Texas, General Information and Historical Notes. 1972.

Local interest newsletters were separated to the Periodicals Collection. State and national newsletters were deaccessioned.

Return to the Table of Contents


Administrative Information

Custodial History

The records were donated by two former members of the Travis County Democratic Women's Committee. Previously accessioned as two separate collections, the records were combined to form this collection in 2013.

Preferred Citation

Travis County Democratic Women's Committee Records (AR.1998.009). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1980/032; DO/1998/038

Donation Date: 1980-1986, 1998

Processing Information

Initial inventory by Michael Brake, Matt Schwoebel, Mike Strom, and Richard Workman in November 1999. Final processing and finding aid by Kelly Hanus in May 2019.

Return to the Table of Contents


Detailed Description of the Collection

Organizational Files, 1955-1992

General, 1955-1992
Box Folder
1 1-2 History, 1955-1986
3-4 Constitution and bylaws, 1959-1980
Correspondence, 1960-1992
Box Folder
1 5 General correspondence, 1960-1986
Box Folder
15 1-2 Texas correspondence, 1967-1987
3 Chairmen correspondence, 1972-1992
Box Folder
1 6 Membership, 1971-1983
7 Agendas, 1975
8 Printed materials, 1961-1991
Box Folder
3 5 Honors/awards, 1976-1984
6 Speeches, 1952-1964
Box Folder
1 9 Texas Democratic Women's State Committee materials, 1965-1967
Box Folder
3 7 Assorted notes, 1962-1980
Assorted organizational files, 1959-1982
These files were kept in their original groupings by year. Included in these files are reports, correspondence, meeting minutes/agendas, press releases, brochures, notes, and other administrative files.
Box Folder
3 8 Assorted, 1959-1963
9 Assorted, 1964
10 Assorted, 1965
11 Assorted, 1966
12 Assorted, 1967
13 Assorted, 1968-1969
14 Assorted, 1970
15 Assorted, 1971
Box Folder
4 1 Assorted, 1972
2 Assorted, 1973
3 Assorted, 1974
4 Assorted, 1975
5 Assorted, 1976
6 Assorted, 1977
7 Assorted, 1978
8 Assorted, 1979
9 Assorted, 1980
10 Assorted, 1981
11 Assorted, 1982
Committees, 1961-1990
Box Folder
1 10 Executive committee, 1961-1976
Candidate Screenings, 1962-1990
Box Folder
1 11 General, 1976
12 City Council and Mayor, 1969-1981
13 Constable, 1976-1982
14 County Commissioner, 1970-1978
Box Folder
2 1 Court of Civil Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, 1976-1980
2 District Courts, District Attorney, Governor Ann Richards, 1962-1990
3 Justice of the Peace, 1974-1982
4 Legislature (Texas and United States), 1971-1984
5 School Board, Sheriff, Texas Supreme Court, 1968-1989
Box Folder
1 9 Other committees, 1974-1981
Officers, 1966-1990
Box Folder
2 7 Chairman, 1970-1975
8-12 President, 1975-1990
13 Vice-Chairman, 1974
14 Treasurer, 1975-1992
15-16 Secretary, 1972-1986
17 General correspondence, 1966-1990
Observers, 1962-1972
Box Folder
2 18-19 City Council, 1962-1963
Box Folder
3 1-3 City Council, 1964-1972
4 Commissioner's Court, 1970

Return to the Table of Contents




Subject Files, 1957-1989

Box Folder
4 12 Abortion, 1970-1971
13 Airport, 1984
14 Austin Geriatric Center/Fish hatchery, 1968-1973
15 Austin Public Library, 1971-1972
16 Austin Reform Council, 1973
17 Austin/Travis County Democratic clubs, 1959-1982
18 Bonds, 1965-1985
19 Brackenridge Hospital, 1972, 1985
Campaign materials, 1968-1985
Box Folder
5 1 Local candidates, 1968-1985
2 State candidates, 1972-1984
3 McGovern, 1972
4 Capital Improvements Program, 1972
5 Charter Revision, 1972-1975, 1984
6 City Council, 1964-1973
7 City planning, 1972-1985, undated
8-9 Criminal justice, 1957-1978
Box Folder
6 1-2 Democratic Party, 1964-1988
3 Electric rates, 1981
4 Environmental issues, 1968-1989
5 Equal Legal Rights Amendment, 1965-1967
6 Fair Play Caucus, 1974-1980
7 Housing, 1974-1982
8 Human Relations Commission, 1964-1977
9 League of Women Voters, 1971-1975
10 Maps, 1969-1982
11 Minority Group Employment, 1964
12 Model Cities/urban renewal, 1967-1981
13 Municipal elections, 1972-1980
14 National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) Austin Unit #1, 1973-1982
Box Folder
7 1 Nuclear plant, 1972-1988
2 Police relations, 1981
3 Political ethics, 1965-1976
4 Public utilities, 1964-1980
5 Redistricting, 1965
6 Schools, 1962-1988
7 State legislature, 1959-1972
8 Stokes building, 1979-1980
9 Symphony square, 1972
10 Taxation, 1961-1986
11 Telephone rates, 1959-1973
12 Texas Coalition for Utility Regulation, 1975
Box Folder
8 1 Texas Constitution, 1972-1984
2 Transportation, 1962-1985
3 Travis County Commissioners Court, 1970-1981
4 Travis County Courthouses, circa 1970s
5 Voting, 1963-1986
6 Women, 1972-1979
7 Assorted issues, 1964-1985
Box
9-14 News clippings, 1960s-1980s

Return to the Table of Contents