The Texas A&M University Women’s Club as we know it today, is the outgrowth of three previous campus organizations: the Christmas Party, the Campus Social Club, and the College Red Cross. The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas received its first students in October 1876. The College was an all-male, all-military institution in those days and everyone connected with it lived on the rather isolated campus. Faculty members and wives were concerned about those cadets who, out of necessity, remained on campus during the holiday season so they initiated the Christmas Party. This festive affair was the social event of the year with Christmas Eve services in the chapel, a decorated tree, caroling, a gift exchange, and a holiday dinner.
In 1911, the Campus Social Club was organized. Everyone in the Campus Community was expected to join and pay dues. These funds (50¢ for bachelors, $1 for couples) were used for refreshments as this group assumed the planning of the annual Christmas Party. During World War I, the College Red Cross was very active in helping our servicemen. After Armistice was declared, the Red Cross continued to meet once a month socially. In March 1919, Mrs. J.C. Nagle became president of the College Red Cross and suggested that the two campus organizations merge. Her suggestion was unanimously accepted and Mrs. Nagle became the first president of the Campus Women’s Social Club. There were between thirty and forty charter members who paid dues of 50¢. Meetings were held in the Ladies Parlor of the YMCA with discussion topics such as canning garden vegetables and the Commandant’s suggestions for controlling the college dances. Early projects included curtains for the “Y,” which members made at home, and flowers for the hospital.
In 1920, the first constitution was written. By 1925, the club had more than tripled its membership, growing as A&M grew. The Newcomers Club was formed in 1938 to help women who were new to become acquainted with each other, the community, Aggieland and the Aggie Spirit. The first Faculty Dinner-Dance was held in February 1940. However, during World War II, club meetings were held only in October and April; interest groups disbanded and were revived after the war. The club continued to grow over the next quarter century and the name Texas A&M University Women’s Social Club was adopted in 1969. In the spring of 1970, President Earl Rudder died and the Women’s Social Club Executive Board planted a live oak tree on the front lawn of the president’s home in his honor. A brass plaque was printed by the Engineering Technology Society and placed at the base of the tree.
In May 1989, in accordance with the newly adopted Standing Rule 6, two scholarships were awarded. The club selected two local students who planned on attending Texas A&M, one hailed from Bryan High School and the other from A&M Consolidated High School. In October 1990, a complete revision of the bylaws was adopted. Two significant revisions were the new club name, Texas A&M University Women’s Club, and adding service and philanthropic activities in support of Texas A&M University to the club’s purpose. The Scholarship Fund and other philanthropic activities were set up as on-going projects to be administered with the help of the Development Foundation.
In 2003, 2004, and 2005, the club held fundraisers and opened a scholarship endowment with the Texas A&M Foundation. In addition, the Club received tax-exempt status to further its philanthropic mission. By the end of the 2005-2006 year, one scholarship was endowed at $25,000. As a result of a fundraising event in early 2007, a second scholarship endowment was established, given in honor of Becky Gates, Honorary President 2002-2006. Aggieland’s Best recipes, a compilation of members’ favorite dishes, initially published in 1980, was re-introduced and published in late 2007. With proceeds from the sales, the Club established a third endowment in 2008. In April of 2009, the 90th Anniversary of TAMU Women’s Club was celebrated with a luncheon and historical video at the Annenberg Conference Center. In addition, by the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the Club had contracted with the Texas A&M Foundation and started contributing toward a fourth scholarship.
In recent years, efforts have been underway to modernize the Club via interest group activities, infrastructure, a Facebook and MeetUp presence, and bylaw updates. The Club also added it’s fifth scholarship to Bryan Collegiate High School.
*Sources: David Brooks Cofer, College Archivist, Fragments of Early History of Texas A&M College 1953, and records of the Texas A&M Women’s Social Club Texas A&M Women’s Club.