A Guide to the Joske's Business Records, 1930-1953
In 1867 Julius Joske emigrated from Berlin, Germany to San Antonio, Texas and established J. Joske store on Main Plaza. The store operated until 1873, when Joske sold it and returned to Germany for his family. He returned the same year with his sons, Siegfried, Albert, and Alexander; together the opened a new store called J. Joske and Sons near the United States Army corral. The store moved to Alamo Plaza two years later and changed its name to Joske Brothers. In 1887 the store moved to a larger facility at the corner of Alamo and Commerce streets, where it remained for the lifetime of the business. Alexander Joske purchased his father's and brothers' portions of the company in 1903 and expanded the store in 1909. Under Alexander Joske's leadership, elevators and new floors were installed, customer service departments and delivery services were established, product offerings expanded to include more attire options for women, and promotional displays were developed. After Alexander Joske's death in 1925, his son-in-law, Dr. Frederic Goldstein Oppenheimer, became president. Hahn Department Stores purchased Joske's four years later, and it was subsequently taken over by Allied Store Corporation in 1932. James H. Calvert served as president from 1932 to 1964. Calvert oversaw additional acquisitions of property and two major store expansions (1939 and 1953). In 1953, the store size was 551,000 square feet. Additional Joske's locations also opened throughout Texas, ultimately reaching a height 26 locations in the state and one in Arizona. After Calvert's retirement in 1964, J.H. Morse became president. Morse retired in 1968, and M.H. "Pat" Segner then became president, followed by William W. Mc Cormick. In 1986 the Campeau Corporation of Toronto, Canada purchased Allied Stores Corporation, and in 1987 Dilliard's Department Stores of Little Rock, Arkansas purchased Joske's from Campeau, at which point all Joske's stores were called Dillard's.
The Joske's chain of department stores was known as an innovator in retail, developing new approaches to advertising and product deployment. Alexander Joske often purchased space in San Antonio newspapers, and the chain cosponsored the first definitive study of radio and television advertising during WWII, when newsprint was rationed. The company had a 500-seat auditorium for civic group meetings, introduced the United States' first teenage beauty pageant, and sponsored charity benefits, art exhibitions, Boy Scout activities, teen advisory boards, and Mexican American trade and heritage events.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, Damon Arhos, "Joske's," accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dhjqn.
The records date from 1930-1953 and span 0.75 linear feet (2 boxes). The records reflect a very small portion of the general business functions of the flagship Joske's department store, which was located at the corner of Alamo and Commerce streets in San Antonio, Texas (records related to other store locations are not present). The bulk of the records are financial in nature, including purchase orders for office supplies, equipment, remodeling, and repairs; balance sheets, and quarterly employer tax returns. Purchase orders show evidence of installation or repair of a soda fountain and cafe in the early 1930's, and remodeling near the rear of the store in the early 1940's. Names of a few select employees are present in the employer tax returns and the employee identification cards (9 cards), though no comprehensive employee lists are present. Other records in the collection pertain to general administrative functions, including correspondence and insurance policies. Customer sales records largely consist of records of installment payments for Joske's Budget Club. Of note are records pertaining to a warehouse fire which occurred in Seguin on October 23, 1942. These include refunded layaway orders, declaration statements, schedules of lost merchandise, and tallies of dollar amounts lost.
The records mostly originate from the time period in which Allied Store Corporation was in charge of operations and James H. Calvert was president of Joske's of Texas. However, the records do not directly reflect Calvert's role in the company, and do not include information on the addition of air conditioning, the store expansion of 1939, addition of warehouse space in 1946, or the store expansion of 1953.
The collection does not contain information on Fantasyland or other promotional events.
This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.
Original quarterly employee tax returns and employee identification cards are restricted. Redacted photocopies are available in the collection.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.
[Identification of item], Joske's Business Records, MS 492, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
The materials were discovered in a basement vault of the original Joske's location at Alamo and Commerce streets during building renovations in 2012 and were subsequently donated to UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures. The materials were transferred to UTSA Libraries Special Collections in 2017 (Acc. 2017-041).
Processed in August 2017 by Katie Rojas, Manuscripts Archivist.
Detailed Description of the Collection