Scope and Contents
Donated by active Republicans Dr. and Mrs. Edward C.M. Chen, these club records show the activities of the Braes Republican Women's Club in Houston, such as meeting minutes and detailed scrapbooks featuring photographs of members and various events. The period of time covered by this material includes Dr. Chen’s term of service as Harris County Republican Party Chair. Dr. and Mrs. Chen both appear in this collection, which was maintained by Mrs. Chen. (3 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
The Braes Republican Women’s Club traces its founding to a decision by two women following an election in 1960. After the Republican convention of Harris County Precinct 175 in that year, Peggy Brelsford and Vandalia Van Osdall decided to form an organization for the purpose of motivating and informing fellow residents in their newly developing neighborhood on how to participate in local, state, and national political affairs. Efforts of the increasing membership brought about noticeable results as early as 1967, when Glenn Purcell, husband of one of the members and a past president, was elected to the State Legislature, the first Republican elected to that body in over one hundred years.
Another early electoral success was one of the Club’s members, Kay Bailey—subsequently U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She also initially was voted into the State Legislature. At the time of the Club’s thirty-fifth anniversary in 1995, Senator Hutchison sent congratulations to the members and wrote, “I was honored to be a member of the Club while I was in Houston, and your support started my political career.”
The Club continued to grow, and in addition to carrying out specific tasks to get Republican candidates elected, the members raised money through garage sales, took one- and two-day trips to places like the South Texas Nuclear Facility, and the Port of Houston and Seamen’s Center, and held an annual Christmas party. The funds raised by the Club were donated to candidates’ campaigns and to civic causes like restoration of the dome of the Harris County courthouse.
As the Club became affiliated with state and national organizations of Republican women, some of its members held positions outside the local group. In 1987 the Braes Republican Women were presented with the Gold Achievement Award of the National Federation of Republican Women at the 24th Biennial Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Club kept members up to date on meeting times, locations, and business through a Newsletter published generally September through May. Under its title the Newsletter has carried the statement “Proud of being the oldest active Republican Women’s Club in the Greater Houston area.”
At the time of the thirty-fifth anniversary in 1995, the Club numbered almost fifty members. Five years later the fortieth anniversary was celebrated on April 18 with a luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel, at which U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was the guest speaker. Gradually as a result of relocations and deaths, the size of the Club began to decline. The 2010 roster numbered twenty-six. On April 16 of that year, the Golden Anniversary was celebrated with a luncheon at Bayou Manor, an area residence for seniors, which had become the home of at least one of the members.
Evidence of the Club’s ongoing effectiveness in supporting Republican candidates is in the November 2010 Newsletter. It includes a thank you message from newly elected State Representative Sarah Davis, a Republican who had won the seat from a strong Democratic incumbent.
Chronologically the latest document in this collection is the November 2011 Newsletter, which announces the meeting to take place on November 18 at the by then usual meeting place, the Outback Steakhouse across from Meyerland Plaza. The program was to be opportunity to hear from candidates in the upcoming election who would be present. The Newsletter also reminded members to vote for Republican Jack Christie for the Houston City Council (the Club’s candidate won again). Finally, this Newsletter includes a full slate of six Club officers for 2012.
Over the life of the Club, various ethnic groups have been active members, including the Asian American community. Mrs. Edward C.M. Chen has been a very active member of club, just as Dr. Chen himself served as Harris County Republican Party Chair in 2002 and later on the board of the United Republicans of Harris County.