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Pals Social Club 90th Anniversary Display

January 11, 2016
Pals 90th Anniversary Ice Sculpture

90th Anniversary ice sculpture backlit with holiday décor.

On December 20th, UTSA Special Collections exhibited items from the Pals Social Club Collection, which has been previously featured on Top Shelf. Items from the collection were displayed at the organization’s annual debutante ball, which was held at the University of the Incarnate Word’s Rosenberg Sky Room. 2015 marked the 90th anniversary of the organization.

The display featured photos of debutantes and Pals Club members, articles about debutantes, and invitations from past balls. The items displayed ranged in date from 1928 to 2013. Some San Antonio families have legacies of presenting the young women in their family as Pals debutantes. Those in attendance were able to see their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and even themselves in the photos.

The Pals Social Club was founded in 1925, deriving their name from the motto “Pleasant Attitude towards Life.” They began hosting debutante balls in 1928, and have done so every year with the exception of a short pause during World War II. Each group of debutantes is called a coterie; the 2015 coterie included eight debutantes. The annual ball, also known as a cotillion, is held in December and marks the beginning of the social season. During this time debutantes are honored at parties, and host as well as attend events in the community.

Pals Social Club Collection items on display.

Pals Social Club Collection items on display.

Potential debutantes must be at least 18 years old, enrolled in college, and are selected by a vote from Pals Club members. Additionally, each debutante is sponsored by a Pals Club member. Each debutante wears a white gown and is presented with flowers from her mother before performing a formal bow. She is then escorted around the ballroom by her father as her accomplishments and future goals are read aloud. The presentations are followed by dances with their fathers and escorts for the evening. After the presentations, dinner is served and guests enjoy music and dancing. Below is a selection of the items featured in the display.


5 O’clock bridge party honoring Tallulah Lane. L-R: Mamie Smith, Fay Gray, Marietta Black, Geraldine Thomas, Williams, Grace Kirtz, Tallulah Lane, Lorraine Kirby, Clara Carter, Ama Landry, and Minnie Emily Lowery, 1940.



Invitation to the 1940 cotillion.



Arthur Marie Taylor, Debutante engaged on the evening of her presentation, 1950.



Pals Club Members. L-R: Marilyn Gardner, Carolyn McDonald, Louise Grant, Henrietta Flower Herndor, Marnenette Smith, Priscilla Preacher Armstead, Sara Spear Cook, December 1968.



1977-78 Debutante Coterie

An online guide for the collection was prepared shortly after UTSA acquired the items in 2014, and the collection is open for research. Additionally, the club’s 80th anniversary book has been digitized and is available to view online.

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