Florence Ralston Brooke Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Florence Ralston Brooke was born in England in 1858 to Thomas and Henrietta Ralston Brooke. She and her mother, a widow, immigrated to the United States arriving in Boston in September 1871. Her uncle, Robert Ralston, met them at the ship and they traveled to Providence, Rhode Island. The 1875 Rhode Island State Census records Brooke as living in Providence with her mother and uncle. Financial trouble brought her uncle, mother and Brooke to Austin, Texas. Realizing that she needed a job once their "situation became more serious" Brooke took A. P. Wooldridge's, president of the Austin School Board of Trustees, advice and enrolled in the Normal School in Huntsville, Texas to obtain a teacher's certificate. According to an autobiographical sketch she wrote years later she started school in January 1887 and graduated in June of 1888, however, a newspaper article from September 18, 1887, in the The Austin Daily Statesman lists her as the principal for the 10th Ward School (Palm School). Brooke held the position at the 10th Ward School until 1912 when she transferred to Austin High School to teach English. In 1930She remained at Austin High School until her retirement in 1942. She died two years later.
The Florence Ralston Brooke Papers contain a diary chronicling a trip her mother, Henrietta, took from England to the United States by ship in 1834, two writing assignments completed by Brooke herself from the 1870s, and a scrapbook documenting Austin Public School activities from 1876 through 1930. Henrietta's diary, accompanied by a typed description and partial transcription created by Brooke in 1935, describes the weather and daily life on board the ship, including the illness and subsequent death of her sister on board. The writing assignments were completed in Brooke's teens (1874, 1875), one describes the journey to the United States from England and the other a trip to Lyme Hall in Cheshire, England. Lastly, there is a scrapbook that consists mainly of newspaper clippings along with a few programs, flyers, letters, greeting cards and one black-and-white photograph of Brooke. The majority of the content is related the 10th Ward/Palm School and dated from the late 1880s through 1911. There are also few items related to the Austin High School Shakespeare Club from 1920 and 1930, as well as two greeting cards. In addition there are a few newspaper clippings from The Statesman dated 1878 which would imply that Brooke and her family moved to Austin at some point between 1875 (Rhode Island census) and 1878.
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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.
The diary and composition assignments were donated separately from the scrapbook. The scrapbook was purchased from a used bookstore and donated to the Austin History Center. The relationship between the donor and other materials is unknown.
Florence Ralston Brooke Papers (AR.C.016). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1965/036
Donation Date: 1965
Donor #: DO/1955/001
Donation Date: unknown
Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults in 2017.
Detailed Description of the Collection