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Celebrating Women’s History Month: The Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Association of San Antonio

March 13, 2017

This blog post was written by student clerk Alesia Hoyle.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, UTSA Special Collections staff have chosen to highlight the prominent and prolific Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Association (MABPW) of San Antonio.  Select items from the collection are now on exhibit in the two glass cases outside Special Collections on the 4th floor of the John Peace Library. The exhibit was curated by graduate student workers Alesia Hoyle and Mindi Gandara, and showcases the history of the organization, including its organizational values and objectives. The exhibit also gives a face to MABPW members and illustrates some of the local events the organization sponsored.

The red purses carried by MABPW members symbolize that women’s pocketbooks are always “in the red” because of the inequality of women’s pay compared to what men make.

This nonsectarian, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization was founded by Luz Escamilla in 1972 with 29 members to help promote the image of the Mexican American women, to encourage them to become involved in their communities, and to familiarize them with the responsibilities of membership in a national organization. These women wanted to empower not only Mexican American women but also the working woman. At one time, MABPW was the largest Business and Professional Women’s organization in Texas!

Luz Escamilla, founder and first president of MABPW


A few MABPW members posing for a Proclamation photo with Mayor Lila Cockrell

MABPW members were very active in the San Antonio community and helped to increase awareness of Mexican American cultural heritage. They sponsored several annual local events: the Children’s Christmas Party for disadvantaged children, La Feria del Rio (a Mexican Independence Day Festival held at La Villita), and the Cinco de Mayo Scholarship Dance. In addition to sponsoring and co-sponsoring many programs, seminars, workshops, and symposiums, MABPW employed public education to increase awareness of present issues such as promoting equal pay for women, voter registration, women’s rights, and health care concerns.

MABPW helped fund a number of scholarships and sponsored the NIKE Club at local San Antonio High Schools


MABPW encouraged women to vote and become politically active


A letter expressing the passion of MABPW members regarding female leadership, particularly in this example with regard to San Antonio city government


The MABPW Records range from 1968-2016 (1972-2005 bulk) and contain minutes, correspondence, reports, financial records, planning materials, programs, newsletters, and photographs. A full inventory of the collection is available online. The collection is open for research and can be viewed by appointment at the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 15, 2017 9:08 am

    Reblogged this on stillness of heart and commented:
    A great collection

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