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The Pals Social Club collection

April 14, 2014
Pals Social Club 80th Anniversary booklet, MS 422

Pals Social Club 80th Anniversary booklet, MS 422

At a bridge club meeting in 1925 Vivian Lowery Vincent suggested that the members organize a club, The Pals. With the motto “Pleasant Attitude Toward Life,” the club members believed that the social life of young Black women would be more secure by having the backing of older, caring and dynamic women. The Pals selected and sponsored debutantes to develop and promote social and civic awareness, cultural dignity, pride and sense of self. In 1928 the Pals hosted their first Debutante Ball, which has continued annually.

Each Pals member choses a potential debutante to sponsor, and the coterie is selected by a vote. The debutantes must be 18 years old and enrolled in college. Once the coterie is selected, the girls attend workshops where they are mentored on proper etiquette and social graces. The African American women selected for the debutante coterie of the Pals Social Club are college students and leaders who represent the club’s moral and ethical standards.

From 1947-1992 the Pals entered into an arrangement with the Van Courtlandt Club, a men’s social club, with the Van Courtlandt’s opening the season with a Debutante Ball and The Pals Club gala closing the season in the spring. After 1992 the Pals resumed their Debutante Presentation Ball, which is held during the Christmas season.

Gwendolyn Elam Easter and Wendolyn Elam Easter, nieces of Hattie Elam Briscoe, 1963-1964 Coterie, MS 422

Gwendolyn Elam Easter and Wendolyn Elam Easter, nieces of Hattie Elam Briscoe, 1963-1964 Coterie, MS 422

In 1979, the Pals were honored by the United Negro College Fund and presented the Fred D. Patterson Award. In 1992, the National Council of Negro Women honored the Pals for the organization’s outstanding leadership toward the growth and development of the minority community of San Antonio.

Special Collections is pleased to add a small collection of materials from the Pals Club to our holdings. The bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings and photographs, which were arranged chronologically by decade prior to donation. Also included is an 80th anniversary book, which has been digitized, in the Historical Information folder. The collection is available to researchers and an online guide has been prepared.


  • 80th Anniversary booklet, Pals Social Club collection, MS 422, UTSA Libraries Special Collections
  • “Pleasant and Poised,” Stefanie Arias, San Antonio Express-News, March 22, 2013 (retrieved January 30, 2014)

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