The Reeves family papers comprise documents related to the African American Community in Austin, Texas circa 1920s to 1940s. There are approximately 60 letters, programs, essays and other items of ephemera compiled by four sisters who lived together on Nueces Street: Mary (1890-1934), Anna (1911-?) and Estella Reeves (1904-1932), and Carrie Warren (1892-1965).
Part of the collection documents masonic organizations with a focus on the Palm Beach Court, No. 261, Heroines of Jericho, including a printed application form for membership into the organization. There are six hand or typewritten eulogies of members as well as a short handwritten essay entitled, “Ideals of Womanhood.” The unnamed author tells readers to “be honest and just,” to “try and improve your community,” and that “women can do infinite good by using tact and judgement.” Another highlight within this collection is a four page typewritten speech given by the head of the chapter in 1922: “as a woman of a race we are living harder moving faster, climbing higher . . . than any other race is under like circumstances in any one century.”
Another area of the collection focuses on church activity and church participation mostly related to Austin’s Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. There are hand and typewritten prayers, a typed church resolution, a five page handwritten eulogy as well as programs including one for the 1936 Austin District Conference of the Women’s Missionary Conclave Stewards and Stewardesses Institute
The rest of the documents provide insight into the lives of these individual women. An income tax form that shows that Carrie worked at the Confederate Women’s home in Austin as of 1945. Estella was a nurse who became certified at General Hospital No. 2 in Kansas City, Missouri. As of 1914, the hospital became the first public hospital in the United States operated entirely by African Americans. Anna was attending Samuel Huston College in 1931.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections.
For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.