Austin History Center

Violet Crown Garden Club Records

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Violet Crown Garden Club
Title: Violet Crown Garden Club Records
Inclusive Dates: 1924-2008
Abstract: The Violet Crown Garden Club was founded in 1924 in Austin, Texas to serve as a platform for the women of Austin to share information on gardening and flower arranging. The main goals of the VCGC are civic beautification, conservation, and education. Correspondence, financial documents, scrapbooks, and photographs created and maintained by the Violet Crown Garden Club from 1924 to 2008 highlight the activities of the club.
Identification: AR.1992.001
Quantity: 16.2 linear feet (8 boxes and 24 scrapbooks)
Location: Archives Stacks, Oversize Volumes, Outer Vault
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

Clara Driscoll Sevier, the founder of Violet Crown Garden Club, was a philanthropist and business woman in Texas in the early twentieth century. She married Henry Hulme Sevier, founder of the Austin American-Statesman, in 1906 and later divorced him in 1937. Driscoll has been called the “Savior of the Alamo,” organizing and sponsoring many of the efforts which saved the historic mission. Driscoll was involved with politics, supporting politicians such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, and being elected as the committee woman to the National Democratic Party from 1922 through 1938. Driscoll wrote two books, The Girl of La Gloria and In the Shadow of the Alamo. She also directed the construction of her Austin residence, Laguna Gloria (which has since become the AMOA [Austin Museum of Art]).

In 1924, inspired by the Garden Clubs of America, Driscoll decided to create a garden club for the women of Austin. At their first meeting Driscoll was appointed President, a title she held for four years. It was also at this meeting that the Violet Crown Garden Club got its name. The name is taken from the writer O’Henry, who often referred to Austin as the “city with violet crown hills.” In April of 1952 the Violet Crown Garden Club changed its name upon incorporation to became the Violet Crown Garden Club, Inc. The goals of VCGC in those early years were civic beautification, conservation, and education; these goals remain key components of the club today.

The organization of club leadership consisted of six elected positions: President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian. In most cases the women elected to these positions served for two years. Further, in 1943, committees were formed so that all VCGC members could participate in organizing and leading club activities. At its peak the VCGC had over eight hundred members. After Driscoll moved from Austin in 1928 the following women served as President of the VCGC:

  • 1928-1931 Mrs. J. C. Keltner
  • 1931-1933 Mrs. Ewell Nelle
  • 1933-1940 Mrs. J. W. Bradfield
  • 1940-1942 Mrs. W. R. Nabours
  • 1942-1943 Mrs. George Van Fleet
  • 1943-1945 Mrs. Magnolia N. Greene
  • 1945-1946 Mrs. J. W. Bradfield
  • 1946-1948 Mrs. Alden Davis
  • 1948-1950 Mrs. B. P. Clark
  • 1950-1952 Mrs. Thomas J. Holbrook
  • 1952-1954 Mrs. Peter W. Baker
  • 1954-1956 Mrs. Cecil Cabaniss
  • 1956-1958 Miss Annie T. Giles
  • 1958-1960 Mrs. Stanley Miller
  • 1960-1962 Mrs. Cora Lewis
  • 1962-1964 Mrs. Grady Starnes
  • 1964-1966 Mrs. Bruno Schoen
  • 1966-1967 Mrs. Cecil Cabaniss
  • 1967-1968 Mrs. Curtis J. Harper
  • 1968-1970 Mrs. William F. Harris
  • 1970-1972 Mrs. Sidney W. Bohls
  • 1972-1974 Mrs. Tommie T. Harris
  • 1974-1977 Mrs. Roger Parker

Members of the VCGC participated in their first flower show in 1928 and flower shows have continued to be a primary activity of the club since then. Study Groups were created early in the club’s history as a way for members to learn more about a specific area in gardening. Examples of Study Groups are Arrangement, Therapy, and Chemurgy (a branch of applied chemistry that is concerned with preparing industrial products from agricultural raw materials). Flower Show Schools were another activity of the VCGC, and were carried out as part of general club meetings. These classes were taught by accredited professors on a range of subjects from “Abstract Flower Arranging” to “Flowers from Around the World.” The Flower Show Schools proved popular and are still taught today. The VCGC not only sought to educate its own members on gardening, but also the youth of Austin. This led the club to sponsor Junior Garden Clubs at local schools; donate books on the environment and gardening to local libraries; and provide scholarships to high school seniors who planned to pursue an education in a field related to gardening.

Throughout its history the VCGC has sought to create memorials for the United States armed forces. After World War II they planted numerous memorials around Austin and they worked with the National Garden Clubs to extend the Blue Star Memorial Highway into Texas.

A notable contribution the VCGC has made to Austin is the Garden Center located in Zilker Park. The VCGC dreamed of having a city garden center, which would serve as a meeting place for all of Austin’s garden clubs. Violet Crown, and other Austin garden clubs, started fundraising and planning for the center in the 1940s. The VCGC raised over twenty-thousand dollars (more than any other garden club) in this effort. Their work lead to the creation of the Garden Center in 1964, and the Garden Center remains the meeting place of the VCGC today. The Garden Center has also been the location of numerous flower shows over the decades, including the annual Home and Garden Show, which is hosted by the VCGC and other Austin area garden clubs.

The VCGC interacted with other garden clubs on a regular basis, particularly the Texas Federated Garden Clubs. In 1928 the VCGC was one of the nine Texas garden clubs which collaborated to form the Texas Federated Garden Clubs. The VCGC was a member of District V, the designation under which all greater Austin area garden clubs fall in the Texas Garden Club.

The VCGC has had numerous well-known members such as Mrs. Frank Dobie, a member of the club during its early years, who focused much of her efforts on the conservation of Texas wildflowers. In 1939 the club started the tradition, which is still in practice today, of extending honorary membership to the First Lady of Texas. Lady Bird Johnson was one First Lady of Texas particularly involved with beautifying the city of Austin. Furthermore, she would attend and speak at VCGC events.

Scope and Contents

The records in this collection date from the years 1928-2008, which span nearly the entire history of the VCGC. The bulk of the documents consist of financial records, competition related scrapbooks, award and submission folders, as well as non-competition, general club scrapbooks. These items document both the day to day activities of the VCGC as well as their long term goals of civic beautification, conservation, and education. The documents also highlight the different ‘study groups’ present within the VCGC as well as the other garden clubs with which the VCGC worked. Materials relating to the Texas Garden Club, Inc., also highlight the role of the VCGC as an active group in Texas gardening society.

The Administrative Material series (1931-1996, undated) consists mainly of meeting minutes and notes, financial records, correspondence, club histories, membership lists, committee reports, bylaws, and materials from President Watts. Most of the monthly meeting minutes are bound together and arranged chronologically offering a detailed perspective of the VCGC’s operations throughout the years.

The Financial Material (1952-1995) consists of ledgers, cash receipts and financial statements, as well as bound Treasurer’s Reports.

The Books of Evidence series (1970-1989) contains thirty-one items. Each item, originally materials bound together in a folder, was prepared by the VCGC for submission to the Texas Garden Club for the purpose of being rated as a club or receiving awards according to specific criteria set out by the latter organization. Each folder contained a typed report on the garden club-related activity it covered, and many also featured photographs, clippings, programs, yearbooks, and correspondence to further document their subject. Loose sheets detailing the ultimate grade and the rubric by which it was decided are usually included.

The Club Activities (1948-2008) series includes various materials from some of the major activities and programs undertaken by the VCGC. The Chemurgy, Flower Arrangement, Landscape, and Therapy study groups are represented, as is the VCGC sponsored Junior Garden Club as well as several Flower Show Schools held in Austin. Included is a guest book from a placement flower show, Reflections of our Heritage, held at the Governor's Mansion in 1974.

The Printed Material and Ephemera (1931-2007) series consists of unassembled scrapbooks, programs, yearbooks, and clippings. Both the club yearbooks and programs are a good source of information for names of the executive officers and of the activities and programs that the VCGC undertook each year. Editions of the yearbooks can be also be found in the Scrapbook series.

The Texas Garden Club (1935-2005) series consists of general documents from the Texas Garden Clubs of an administrative and financial nature that mention the VCGC. Handbooks of the Texas Garden Club from 1935-1965 and a booklet on the history of the Texas Garden Club from 1928-1948 are present. Correspondence is largely between Mrs. Pemberthy, the award coordinator for the Texas Garden Club, and relevant member clubs about award folder submissions. Remaining material concerns District V specifically, and includes administrative and financial documents related to the VCGC as well as newspaper clippings from the 1960s that relate to District V as a whole.

The Photographic Material series (1974-1995, undated) is composed mainly of undated and loose photographs documenting flower arrangements and flower shows. There are also a few photograph albums that document Flower Shows and other VCGC activities.

The Scrapbooks series contains twenty-four scrapbooks that cover the years 1928-1987. Nineteen of these are general scrapbooks of the VCGC, two are dedicated to particular study groups, namely the Therapy and Beautification and Landscaping Groups, and three are associated solely with specific flower shows. Every scrapbook contains photographs, clippings from local and state newspapers, and a variety of other printed material, including yearbooks, programs, and gardening related periodicals. Almost all aspects of the club are represented, from financial information, to community service, correspondence with other garden clubs, and any other club-related activities.


The records of the Violet Crown Garden Club came to the Austin History Center with little, if any, original order. However some of the Administrative and Financial Materials were bound together and that original order has been maintained within the following series.
The collection is arranged into eight series:
I. Administrative Material
II. Financial Material
III. Books of Evidence
IV. Programs and Activities
V. Printed Material and Ephemera
VI. Texas Garden Club
VII. Photographic Material
VIII. Scrapbooks


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Driscoll, Clara, 1881-1945.
Keltner, J. C., Mrs.
Nelle, Ewell, Mrs.
Bradfield, J. W., Mrs.
Nabours, W. R., Mrs.
Van Fleet, George, Mrs.
Greene, Magnolia.
Davis, Alden, Mrs.
Clark, B. P., Mrs.
Holbrook, Thomas J., Mrs.
Baker, Peter W., Mrs.
Cabaniss, Cecil, Mrs.
Giles, Annie T.
Miller, Stanley, Mrs.
Lewis, Cora.
Starnes, Grady, Mrs.
Schoen, Bruno, Mrs.
Harper, Curtis J., Mrs.
Harris, William F., Mrs.
Bohls, Sidney W., Mrs.
Harris, Tommie T., Mrs.
Parker, Roger, Mrs.
Violet Crown Garden Club.
Texas Federated Garden Club.
Garden Club.
Women--clubs and society.
Women gardeners--Austin--Texas.
Flower Shows--Austin--Texas.
Civic Beautification--Austin--Texas.
Austin (Tex.)
Zilker Garden Center.
Document Types:
Financial Ledger.

Related Material

Related Collections at the Austin History Center:

  • AF A8050 Austin Area Garden Center
  • AF G0700 Garden Clubs
  • AF G0800 Gardens and Gardening
  • S 937.1 E. Preston Smith Papers

Related Periodicals at the Austin History Center

  • Violet Crown Garden Club Newsletter (September 1947 - February 1961)

Separated Material

To Periodicals

  • Lone Star Gardener. Vol. 14, No. 7., Vol. 16, No. 2., Vol. 18, No. 4., Vol. 18, No. 9., Vol. 18, No. 10., Vol. 18, No. 12., Vol. 21, No. 3., Vol. 28, No. 6.


  • Check stubs and receipts.
  • Duplicates documents, programs, and yearbooks.
  • Empty photo albums, folders, and binders.
  • Periodicals not related to Austin.
  • Printed material not related to garden clubs or gardening, such as recipes for cooking, advertisements, humorous trivia, and memorabilia from local high school events.
  • Yearbooks and other material related to garden clubs outside of Texas.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated by the Violet Crown Garden Club.

Preferred Citation

Violet Crown Garden Club Records (AR 1992.001). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1992/011

Donation Date: 1992 (Collins, C.), 1997 (Millis, B.), 2007 (Watts, P.), 2012 (Allison-Hult S.)

Processing Information

Finding Aid created and encoded by: Rae Berg, Keelee James, Brittany Jurica / November 2012

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

I. Administrative Material, 1931-1996, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Administrative Records Binder, 1931-1937
2 Administrative Records Binder, 1938-1941
3 Administrative Records Binder, 1960-1967
4 By-Laws, 1977
5 Club Histories, 1977, undated
6 Committee Reports, 1949-1950
7 Committee Reports, 1963-1964, undated
8 Correspondence, 1950-1987
11 Correspondence, 1979-1981
Box Folder
8 11 Correspondence and Information, 1981-1996
Box Folder
1 9 House Resolution Papers, 1965
10 Incorporation Papers, 1952
Meeting Minutes Notebook, 1946-1960
Box Folder
2 1 Meeting Minutes, 1962-1977
10 Meeting Minutes, 1979-1981
2 Meeting Notes, 1972-1974
9 Meeting Notes, 1980-1981, 1987
3-4 President Watts’ Executive Binder, 1984-1987

II. Financial Material, 1952-1995, undated

Box Folder
2 5 Audit Reports, 1952-1977
6 Cash Receipts, 1977-1978
7 Financial Statements, 1959-1960, 1964
8 Flower Show School, 1974, undated
Box Folder
3 1 Ledger, 1964-1965
2 Ledger, 1965-1966
3 Reports on Examination of Financial Statements, 1968-1973
4 Statements of Cash Receipts and Disbursements, 1964-1966
5 Treasurer’s Reports, 1969-1995
11 Ways and Means, 1987
6 Varied Financial, 1952, 1974-1981, undated

III. Books of Evidence, 1970-1989

Box Folder
3 7 Arbor Day Award, 1974-1975
8 Arbor Day Award, 1976, 1988
9 Award of Merit for Garden Clubs, 1976
10 Club History Award, 1980, 1985, 1988
Box Folder
4 1 Club Program, 1976, 1980
2 Club Rating, 1970, 1971, 1980
3 Community Service Award, 1988
4 Delegate’s Report, 1974-1975, 1979
5 Flower Show Award, 1976
6 Garden Centers, 1979-1980, 1988-1989
7 Garden Club of the Year, 1976
8 Garden Therapy, 1980, 1988
Box Folder
5 1 Horticulture Rating, 1980
2 Litter, Reclamation and Recycling, 1988
3 National Land Trust, 1982, 1983
4 Press and Publicity Book, 1979, 1980

IV. Club Activities, 1948-1979, 1999-2008, undated

Box Folder
5 5 Activity-Flower Show, Placement Show Guest book, 1974
6 Activity-Flower Show School Courses, 1975-1979
7 Sponsored Programs-Junior Garden Club, undated
8 Study Group-Chemurgy, 1948
9 Study Group-Flower Arrangement, 1953-1955, 1961
10 Study Group-Landscape, 1952-1973
11 Study Group-Therapy, 1954-1958
12 Varied Activities, 1974, undated
13 Zilker Garden Festival Show Schedule, 2005-2008, undated
14 Zilker Garden Festival 2000, 1999-2000

V. Printed Material and Ephemera, 1931-2007, undated

Box Folder
6 1 Flower Show Unassembled Scrapbook, 1954-1963
2 News Clippings, 1963-1990
3 Programs, 1955-1966
4 Programs, 1966, 2000, undated
Yearbooks, 1931-1987
7 Yearbooks, 1994-1998

VI. Texas Garden Club, 1935-2005

General, 1935-2005
Box Folder
7 1 Administrative, 1976-2005
2 Correspondence, 1982-1989
3 Financial, 1946-1990
4 Handbooks, 1935-1964
5 History, 1948
Box Folder
8 12 Texas Garden Club, Inc. Spring Convention 1991 - Austin, 1990-1991
District V, 1945-2007
Box Folder
7 6 District V Administrative Material, 1977-2007
7 District V Financial Material, 1945-1979
8 District V General Material, 1960-1987

VII. Photographic Material, 1974-1995, undated

Box Folder
7 9 Album-Austin Water Gardens, 1995
10 Album-Flower Show Schools and Instructor’s Symposium, 1994-1995
Box Folder
8 1 Album-Flower Show at the Governor's Mansion, 1974
2 Album-Graceland, Undated
3 Envelope of Assorted Flower Photographic Color Prints, 1985-1993, undated
4 Envelope of Assorted Flower Photographic Color Prints, 1987-1989,1992, undated
5 FloraRama and Assorted Photographic Color Prints and Negatives, March-November 1988, undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negative Drawer Negatives, 1988, undated
Box Folder
8 6 FloraRama, Judges’ Luncheon and Assorted Photographic Color Prints, 1995
7 Flower Show Black and White Photographic Prints and their negatives, Undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Negative Drawer Negatives, undated
Box Folder
8 8 Judge’s Council Photographic Color Prints, 1985-1986, undated
9 Loose Photographs, 1976-1984, undated
10 Loose Photographs, Undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negative Drawer Negatives, undated

VIII. Scrapbooks, 1928-1987

Oversized Volumes VCGC Scrapbook, 1928-1950
VCGC Beautification and Landscaping Group Scrapbook, 1945-1953
Box Folder
8 13 VCGC Flower Show Scrapbook, 1954
Oversized Volumes VCGC Scrapbook, 1954-1956
VCGC Scrapbook, 1956-1957
VCGC Scrapbook, 1958-1960
VCGC Scrapbook, 1960-1961
VCGC Flower Show Scrapbook “Living With Flowers – In Our Homes and Gardens”, 1961
VCGC Scrapbook, 1961-1962
VCGC Scrapbook, 1961-1962
VCGC Scrapbook, 1962-1963
VCGC Therapy Group Scrapbook “Photographs”, 1962-1968
VCGC Scrapbook, 1968-1969
VCGC Scrapbook, 1969-1970
VCGC Scrapbook, 1970-1971
VCGC Scrapbook, 1971-1972
VCGC Scrapbook, 1972-1973
VCGC Scrapbook, 1973-1974
VCGC Flower Show Scrapbook “Reflections of Our Heritage”, 1974
VCGC Scrapbook, 1975-1976
VCGC Scrapbook, 1979-1980
VCGC Scrapbook, 1980-1981
VCGC Scrapbook, 1985-1986
VCGC Scrapbook, 1986-1987