Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Houston Art League,
RG19:01 Historical Records Scrapbook 1900-1938

A Guide to the Houston Art League Records, Historical Records Scrapbook
in the Archives of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Inventory prepared by Archives staff


Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826



Summary Information


Historical Records Scrapbook


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Houston Art League,

Inclusive Dates:



1.5 linear feet, one scrapbook, one portfolio


The Houston Art League (1900-1929) was the forerunner of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The first meeting of the Houston Public School Art League was organized by Miss Lydia Adkisson, Mrs. Dillon Brook (Emma Richardson Cherry), Miss Roberta Lavender, Mrs. Robert S. (Lavinia Abercrombie) Lovett and Miss Cara Redwood with the purpose of encouraging art and culture in the public school system, which was to be accomplished
through the installation of "good graphics" in the public schools. The Houston Art League registers, scrapbooks, newsclippings, publications, and other materials offer a broad and varied account of that organization from 1900-1929.

Call Number:



Materials are in English


Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826

Access and Use

Acquisition Information:
Records were transferred from Library storage in August 1984. Five pieces of correspondence (four with Florence Fall and one with William Ward Watkin) were given to the Archives by Mrs. Stayton Nunn in December 1984.

Related Materials:
RG01: Trustee Records (By-laws); RG06: Finance Records (Legal Documents series); RG08: Public Information Records (Newsclippings series); MS01: Stella Hope Shurtleff Papers; MS08 Emma Richardson Cherry Papers

Separated Materials:

Use Restrictions:
For preservation purposes, researchers are required to use digital surrogate of RG19 Houston Art League records.

Preferred Citation:
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives. RG19:01, Houston Art League Records, Historical Records Scrapbook, 1900-1938.

To cite the digital facsimiles on the Archives´ Houston Art League Page:
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives. RG19:01, Houston Art League Records, Historical Records Scrapbook, 1900-1938. (accessed September 26, 2011).

Biographical or Historical Note

Chronology of Events

3/17/1900-Forty-seven people assemble to hear an art lecture by Mrs. Jean Sherwood of Chicago in the home of Mrs. R. S. Lovett. After the lecture, a committee is appointed to draw up a constitution and by-laws for an art association whose purpose will be to install and maintain in the city schools reproductions of works of art.

3/24/1900-Constituution and by-laws of Houston Public School Art League are read and adopted by the fifty-four people assembled in the library of Houston´s Central High School.

4/16/1913-League receives state charter under its new name, Houston Art League, which is meant to reflect the broadened scope of its activities. Small art collection is formed and displayed in mayor and city council offices, as well as the homes of various League members.

4/18/1913-City of Houston draws up ninety-nine year lease for land at the intersection of Holman & Austin Sts. at one dollar per year for the League. Preliminary plans are made for a museum building. The lease is recalled, however, as it is technically illegal.

1913-1914-League officers approach George H. Hermann who promises to lease land to the League near Rice Institute rent free. Hermann dies (10/21/1914) before executing the lease, but the League continues to negotiate wit the executors of the will for a tract of land.

9/10/1914-League leases Eckhardt residence at 1806 Main St. from Jesse H. Jones for one year as exhibition space.

1915-1916-Meeting and exhibition space are given to the League in Scanlan Building at 405 Main St. by Kate Scanlan.

6/22/1916- Joseph S. Cullinan anonymously donated $3,300.00, the sum necessary in order for the League to acquire the museum site from the Hermann estate.

8/10/1916-Executors of the Hermann estate deed land at Main and Montrose to the League for $3,300.00 under the condition that a museum costing no less than $20,000.00 be erected in ten years.

4/12/1917-Museum site is dedicated and a stone monument erected. Celebration is held each year at the site until museum opens in 1924.

March 1919-George M. Dickson bequests art collection to the League.

2/22/1923-Ground broken for construction of first unit.

4/12/1923-Cornerstone laid for first unit of the building.

4/12/1924-Museum opens to the public. Building architect is William Ward Watkin; Director is James Chillman, Jr.

1925-League revises its constitution and by-laws, reorganizing itself with the museum structure.

1926-East and West wings of the museum are completed. Will C. Hogg proves instrumental in raising the funds necessary for construction.

5/29/1929-League amends its state charter, changing its corporate name from the Houston Art League to the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston.


The Houston Art League Records are divided into series:

Series 1: Historical Records Scrapbook
Series 2: Meeting Minutes
Series 3: Visitor Register
Series 4: Membership Roll
Series 5: Miscellaneous Subjects, A-Z
Series 5: Artifacts

Collection Scope and Content Note

Houston Art League registers, scrapbooks, newsclippings, publications, and other materials offer a broad and varied account of that organization from 1900-1929. Although there are gaps in their records, they provide a significant corpus of information on the League and its activities form these years. The records also reflect the change in the nature and purpose of the League as it gradually focused its attention on the construction of an art museum in Houston.

The records feature important documents in the League´s history, such as its charter, constitution, and by-laws.

A substantial amount of meeting minutes and annual committee reports is included for scattered years beginning in 1901. In addition, information regarding various League-sponsored exhibitions, musical performances, lectures and special events such as the dedication of museum site (1917) and opening day festivities (1924) is included.

The records also document the membership in the League for various years with a members roll and several membership lists. General attendance for events and exhibitions held between 1914-1919 and 1924-1926 is recorded in a visitor register. Finally, the organization´s history, as written by various League members and officers, is contained in booklets, essays and outlines dating from 1919-1926.

Subject Terms

Art — Exhibitions
Art — Societies, etc
Art — Study and teaching
Art museum architecture — Texas — Houston
Art museums — Texas — Houston
Civic improvement
Museums—Educational aspects
Women—Societies and clubs

Personal Names
Adkisson, Lydia
Cherry, Emma Richardson, 1859-1954
Chillman, James H., Jr., 1891-1972
Cram, Ralph Adams, 1863-1942
Cullinan, J. S. (Joseph Stephen), 1860-1937
Dickson, George M.
Fall, Florence (Mrs. Henry B.)
Jones, Jesse H. (Jesse Holman), 1874-1956
Lavender, Roberta
Lovett, Lavinia Abercrombie
Mullen, Joseph
Redwood, Cara
Saint-Gaudens, Homer, 1880-
Sewall, Cleveland
Shurtleff, Stella
Volck, Fannie W. (Mrs. G.A.)
Watkin, William Ward, 1886-1952

Corporate Names
American Federation of Arts
Houston Art League
Houston Public School Art League
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Tuesday Musical Club


Container List

Houston Art League, 1900-1938
Historical Records Scrapbook, 1900-1938
Meeting Minutes, 4/1904-5/1911
box 1folder 1Meeting Minutes, 1904-1911
Visitor Register, 12/1914-1919; 4/1924-1/1926
box 1folder 2Visitor Register, 12/1914-1919; 4/1924-1/1926
Membership Roll, 1907-1914
box 1folder 3Membership Roll, 1907-1914
Miscellaneous Subjects, A-Z, 1900-1938
box 2folder 1American Art Annual data, 1919
2Annual Report (Director´s) , 1925
3Art Lecture Class, April-May 1915
4Building Fund, 1925
5Charter, 1913
6Charter — amended, 1929
7Constitution & By-laws, 1904, 1919
8-10Constitution & By-laws — amended, 1925
11Constitution & By-laws: analysis of from 1900-25
12Correspondence: Florence (Mrs. Henry B.) Fall, 1919-25
13Correspondence: Mary E. (Mrs. Edgar O.) Lovett, 1916-30
14Correspondence: Stella Hope Shurtleff, 1917-18
15Correspondence: Fannie W. (Mrs. G. A.) Volck, 1912-24
16Correspondence: miscellaneous, 1919-25
17Dickson Bequest, 1919
18Event: 1914/15 — Cadman & Pricness Tsianina Concert
19Event: 1915 — Kitty Cheatham Concert
20-26Event: 1917-23 — Dedication of Museum Site
27-28Event: 1924 — Museum Opening Day
29Event: 1925 — Houston Art League Silver Jubilee
30Event: 1928 — Founder´s Day Exercise
31Exhibition File — Art Loan Exhibition 12/1913
32Exhibition File — Art Loan Exhibition 12/1914
33Herman (George) Estate — Deed of Gift to Museum dated August 1916
34-39History of the Houston Art League — essays/outline, n.d.
40Houston Friends of Art , 1926
41Houston Public Schools — curriculum (pre 1913)
42Lease to Eckhardt Residence, 1914-1915
43-48Lists: Boards of Directors, Officers, Members: 1900-1937
49Lists: Works of Art purchased/donated in schools
box 3folder 1Lovett, Mary E. (Mrs. Edgar Odell): Miscellaneous Notes
2-8Meeting Minutes: 1901-03; 1914, 1919; 1924
9Membership Information: 1919-1925
10-11Membership List as of Museum Opening: 4/12/1924
12Memberships: essays and remarks on c. 1919-1922
13Mullen, Joseph: Miscellaneous Papers: 1920-1924
14Publications: Announcement of Year´s Work: 1913-1914
15Publications: Houston Art Museum booklet: 1922
16Publications: Dedication Speech of Homer St. Gaudens at the Museum´s Opening: 1924
17-27Publications: Exhibition Catalogs: 1908; 1911-15; 1918; 1922
28Publications: Illustrations of Proposed Building
29Publications: Miscellaneous Invitations
30Publications: Musical Programs: 1913-1916
31Publications: Programs for the Dedication of the Future Site of the Houston Art 1917-1922
32Receipts and Disbursements: 1919
33Recreation Survey (City of Houston): c. 1925
34Reports: Committee on the Constitution: 1919
35Reports: Committee on the Dedication of the Museum Site: 1917
36Reports: Financial: 1924-25
37Reports: Committee on the Museum Opening: 1924
38Reports: Committee on the Ways and Means: 6/5/1917
39Shurtleff, Stella: Class Outline for Teaching Art History: 1917
40Shurtleff, Stella: Essay Art Progress in Houston….: 1916
41Shurtleff, Stella: Prose, Miscellaneous
42Tax Records: 1913-1916
43Works of Art: Photographs
44Works of Art — purchased and donated
box 1folder 1HAL site dedication marker April 12, 1917
marble, 3 separate stones.
For location and dimension information, see the collection management system, CM #160.
Dedication marker placed by the Houston Art League on the museum site on April 12, 1917