Slip of paper reminding Minute Women to be poll tax collectors.

While searching on another topic, I found myself drawn to a folder in President Lovett’s papers entitled “Anti-Reds – pamphlets, etc. 1950s.” It’s impossible to know if Lovett himself labeled the material in the folder as “Anti-Reds” or if someone else later decided to name it that.

If you are wondering what is in this mysterious folder, part of it is devoted to the Minute Women, which were quite strong in Houston. They were a group who were anti-Communist, anti-internationalist (as they termed it), anti-immigration, pro-poll tax, pro-capitalist, and promoted “Americanism in public schools.” They took over the HISD school board and tried to control what was being taught at the University of Houston. One way that the Minute Women were effective was their united voice. They used phones to get their views heard. Most of these newsletters remind the readers to call, call, call.

What follows are some highlights from the newsletters.

Minute Women newsletter focusing on UN.

They were quite afraid of the UN and UNESCO. In Lovett’s file, there is a separate pamphlet about how UNESCO will corrupt children.

Minute Women newsletter

“National Women’s Magazine Hits New Low” focuses on education and their view of its infiltration by Communism, which is a running through line in their newsletters, examples below.

Section from a Minute Women newsletter
Section from a Minute Women newsletter
Section from a Minute Women newsletter

“What Sort of Education?” reveals another level to the fears of the group, teaching about non-white subjects. There definitely seem to be clear connections between the Minute Women’s line of reasoning about more inclusive teaching and Communism and today’s patriotic education laws that are sweeping the states. The Minute Women’s discussion of race above go hand in hand with their fervent support of the poll tax.

Fun fact: Pres. Lovett wasn’t the only notable Houstonian saving information on the Minute Women. Dominique de Menil was. As part of her daily ritual, de Menil would clip stories on various topics and file them away. In the 1950s, she saved Ralph O’Leary’s eleven part series on the group. O’Leary’s series led to the group’s downfall.

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