Selections from the Ewing Family Papers

8 Items
Last Updated: 2021-02-08

This digital collection contains highlights from Mary Ellen Ewing and Gladys Ewing, originally found in the Ewing Family Papers.

The pages of several of Mary Ellen Ewing's scrapbooks document her social and political activities 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. Items in the scrapbooks date from 1900 to 1917, with the bulk of the material coming from the year 1913. Highlights from Mrs. Ewing's scrapbooks 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.

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.

Gladys Ewing's scrapbook commemorates Houston high society, 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 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.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries' Special Collections in The Ewing Family Papers.

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