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Joske’s Quarter Century Club

January 15, 2013
Joske's neon sign at night, circa 1930s, MS 362

Joske’s neon sign at night, circa 1930s, MS 362

UTSA Special Collections has recently acquired a collection compiled by Joske’s Quarter Century Club, an organization of former Joske’s employees.

Joske’s, founded by German immigrant Julius Joske in 1867, was a department store chain originally based in San Antonio, Texas. Joske’s first store, located on Main Plaza in San Antonio and known as J. Joske, opened in 1867 and operated until 1873, when Joske sold it and went back to Berlin for his family. He returned to San Antonio later that same year and opened a new store called J. Joske and Sons with the help of his sons Siegfried, Albert, and Alexander in a small adobe house. In 1875 the store moved to Alamo Plaza, not far from the Grand Opera House, and

The Joske Jabberwocky, Volume IV, Number 27, June 1954

The Joske Jabberwocky, Volume IV, Number 27, June 1954, MS 401

changed its name to Joske Brothers and in 1887 the store moved to an even bigger facility at the corner of Alamo and Commerce streets. In 1903 Alexander Joske purchased his father’s and brothers’ interest in the company and expanded both the Commerce Street location and its product line in 1909. The flagship store was the first fully air-conditioned store in Texas and the first in the state to install escalators.  The five-level store was the largest department store west of the Mississippi until its purchase, and closure, by Dilliards in 1987.

Joske’s Quarter Century Club was created by the company as a way to thank 25-year veteran workers with free monthly breakfasts, jewelry and a 25% discount. The Club has brought former employees of Joske’s together since 1933. Even after the store shut down, the Joske’s Quarter Century Club kept going, bringing employees back for socials and luncheons two to three times per year. The Club disbanded in 2012 and held its final meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church on December 1, 2012.

canceled check found in Joske's basement

canceled check found in Joske’s sub-basement, 1923, MS 401

Included in the collection: several photograph albums; a scrapbook; a brief history of Joske’s; 3 laminated copies of Joske’s Jabberwocky, the employee newsletter; and a Joske’s ChargaPlate, a slightly different version than the charge card found in the Douglass Family Papers.

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