The Pan American Round Table is a nonprofit women’s organization with member Tables at the local, state, and international levels. The very first table was established in 1916 in San Antonio, Texas, by bold women who felt moved to address the negative effects suffered especially by women and children during the Mexican Civil War and border confrontations between Mexico and the United States at that time. They founded the Pan American Round Table based on a mission and vision of building bridges between the United States and Latin America at this critical time of historical transition and state formation throughout the hemisphere. This mission of mutual understanding, knowledge, and friendship among the peoples of the Western Hemisphere continues to define the aim of our organization today.
The Pan American Round Table of Austin was organized in 1922.
Our Mission / Nuestra misión
The mission of the Pan American Round Table of Austin is to promote understanding and peace at home and among the peoples of the Americas through education, outreach and friendship.
La misión de la Mesa Redonda Panamericana de Austin es promover la comprensión y la paz en nuestro país y entre las personas de las Américas mediante la educación, el servicio a la comunidad y la amistad.
On January 30, 1922, twenty-two women met at the historic Driskill Hotel to form the 4th oldest table in the still fledgling Pan American Round Tables.
In the summer before, they had met with the fabled Clara Driscoll Sevier at her estate alongside the Colorado River – Laguna Gloria – to set in motion the plans which resulted in the founding meeting the following winter.
At the first regular meeting Mrs. Sevier was appropriately chosen as the Director General. At the formative meeting, the constitution and by-laws of the San Antonio Round Table were adopted. Each of the twenty-two charter members drew lots for a specific country, and was thereafter responsible for representing that nation at the table.
The first luncheon, held a month later at the Driskill, was no ordinary affair. The president of the University of Texas, R. E. Vinson, made an opening address, followed by Governor Neff himself, who reminded the women how much, in his words, “one is privileged to be at the beginning of things worthwhile.” San Antonio saluted its new sisters by sending over a quartet of its Pan American Round Table leaders. Other distinguished guests included the governor’s wife, the wife of the former United States Ambassador to Colombia (Mrs. Thad Thomson), and a small host of state judges, heads of commissions, and other state brass.
To emphasize the round table idea, the luminaries were seated about a round table in the center of the room, with the other members and guests grouped around smaller tables. As would become traditional, the festive flags of the Pan American nations provided the centerpiece.
At the second monthly luncheon Mrs. Terry Griswold attended from San Antonio to talk about needs and aims. Five delegates came up from Laredo. Other speakers included Dr. Charles W. Hackett, the University’s foremost Latin Americanist, and the Honorable Hal Sevier, who told of his representation of the United States in Argentina during World War I.
At the conclusion of the second luncheon, the delegates promptly reassembled for a “State Convention” to form and clarify state regulations. Of the first five honorary members, four were men, distinguished in some phase of Latin American endeavor. Also impressive is the large number of musical and dance programs, invariably staged in native costume and with elaborate matching table decorations. Since each woman was assigned to represent and study a specific country, the competitive urge meant that each also gained knowledge in depth of her particular area. The table became such an important part of the Driskill Hotel’s life that it designated one of its meeting rooms as the Pan American Room.
Through the efforts of the women of the Pan American Round Table and in honor of Mrs. Sevier and Dr. Charles W. Hackett, the first twelve scholarships to Latin American students were established in 1940 to assist with the beginning efforts of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas. The Charles Wilson Hackett Memorial Award and a matching Jeannie Hunter Hackett Memorial Award were established and are presented annually on Pan American Day. In 1946 the Table instituted a short term revolving loan fund of $1,000 for Latin American students in financial distress. The fund is administered by the University of Texas.
After a period of “temporary inactivity” from May 1928 until November 1929, the table came back strong.
Excerpts of history written by Helen Frantz
(Helen Frantz passed away October 21, 2012.)
Inspired by reflections on the history of our organization, our PART of Austin logo is a circle without beginning or end, symbolizing the perpetual union, equal opportunity, and representation. We focused on curvilinear elements to symbolize the peace, friendship, and harmony among nations which is the goal of PART.
The font is in the Art Deco style to harken back to the time of our organization in 1922. Instead of flags representing our organization’s member nations, we chose to feature our hemisphere as seen from far above and beyond the borders of our tiny blue planet.
The colors of our logo — red, white, blue, green, yellow — appear in the flags of all our member nations. The star supporting the globe represents not only the Lone Star of Texas, but also the star that marks Austin on maps as the capital city. Our state is also represented by the two Texas symbols standing sentinel beside the year our Table was organized.
This new version of our logo was unveiled the summer of 2021 in preparation for our centennial celebration in 2022.
Pan American Round Table of Austin, founded in 1922, has gradually established many traditions. To stay current, some traditions have changed while new ones have emerged while staying true to our mission. The following is a description of traditions important to us as of 2022.
Our philanthropic efforts bring our Mission Statement to life:
Scholarships: PART stands committed to helping students achieve their academic goals. In 1940 we awarded our first scholarships to a group of twelve students enrolled in the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas. Over time we have expanded who our recipients may be. This year we will give three scholarships to students studying at various institutions in the Austin area.
Community and Education Outreach: PART also stands committed to supporting local nonprofits benefitting Latin Americans in Austin in the areas of health, education, parenting, human development, arts and science. Over time we have not only increased our financial grants, but actively volunteer to support the chosen organizations.
Among the groups we have supported are Casa Marianella, Manos de Cristo, Saint Louise House, and BookSpring.
We also help Hermelinda Rodriguez Elementary School, a school dear to us because it is named for Hermelinda Rodriguez, the first Mexican American female principal in the Austin Independent School District, who until her death was a member of our Table.
The following dates are special to us:
In December we pause to enjoy holiday music. Prior programs have included church ensembles, mariachi, Austin Classical Guitar, and tenor Geraldo Ramos.
In April we celebrate Pan American Day in recognition of the Organization of American States (OAS). Many members don regional dresses typical of various Latin American countries. To the rhythms of live music, we may even have a style show and dance to show off the beautiful dresses.
In May every two years, we install our new officers.
A new tradition: honoring our prior Directors:
Las Consejeras is a group of prior leaders who serve informally as our advisors. We honor them for their past service and value their continuing guidance. Both our State and Alliance organizations have Consejeras.
A popular, evolving tradition:
Spanish Coffee has grown in popularity and is evolving to give members new ways to enjoy one another’s company. Traditionally, we have held five Spanish Coffee’s each year: October, January, February, March, and April. They’ve taken place on the third Monday of each month at 10:30 a.m. in a member’s home with co-hosts and members contributing a variety of goodies. Each Coffee centers on a topic related to Latin American culture, be it a book, poetry, a historical place or event — even food from the Latin American world. Our tamales coffee was a huge hit.
The name comes from the tradition of encouraging members to speak in Spanish.
Finally, keeping up with PART:
We keep our members updated via our monthly e-bulletin. Started when COVID-19 changed how we live, it has a summary of everything our members should know to stay current on what has happened or is coming up. We encourage our members to email items to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the e-bulletin.
Charles Wilson Hackett (1888-1951) is best known as the first director of the University of Texas Institute of Latin American Studies in the early 1940’s, where he oversaw the building of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, one of the most comprehensive libraries of its kind in the world. Dr. Hackett, a native of Texas, received his doctorate in history from the University of California Berkeley and began his extensive career at the University of Texas as an adjunct professor in 1918. He rose through the ranks of the history department to become Distinguished Professor of History in 1944. In addition to his many academic duties, he was a prodigious scholar.
Outside academia, Dr. Hackett was named to be the delegate from the United States to the Pan-American Congress in Panama City in 1925; he served on a preparation committee for the Seventh American Scientific Congress in Mexico in 1932; and he attended the Third Pan-American Institute of Geography and History in Lima, Peru, in 1939.
PART Austin offered the Charles Wilson Hackett Memorial scholarship, for University of Texas at Austin graduate students, annually since 1954. Recently renamed, the PART Austin University of Texas at Austin is now awarded to an outstanding Latin American undergraduate student.
Jean (Nette) Hunter Hackett (1891-1966) was wife of Charles Wilson Hackett (see above) and daughter of the pioneer family for which Hunter’s Bend (a self-sufficient community established in 1859, east of Austin on the northern bank of the Colorado River) was named. In a time when most wives of prominent husbands served in a supportive role, Jeannie Hunter Hackett actively participated in Austin community activities from the 1930’s to the early 1960’s. She was a member of PART Austin, serving on different committees; the UT Austin Universities Ladies Club; the UT Austin Faculty Wives Club, and Junior Helping Hand. According to archival information provided to us by the Austin History Center, Mrs. Hunter Hackett was actively committed to education for more than 30 years.
The Jeannie Hunter Hackett Memorial Scholarship for University of Texas at Austin undergraduates was established after her death in 1966. At this time, the scholarship is combined under the PART Austin University of Texas at Austin Scholarship.
Mitty Bollman Guerra , a long-time member of PART Austin, served as a Table Director (1993-1995) and then became active in the international Pan American Alliance. As Archives Chair (of PART of Texas) she and her committee gathered and processed the records of all the Texas Pan American Round Tables from the time of the organization’s founding in the 1920’s to the present. These records were then donated to the University of Texas Library in San Antonio so they would be available to researchers. Thanks to the efforts of Mitty and Mary Ann Palka, they can be accessed today at https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utlac/00391/lac-00391.html.
Mitty Guerra’s daughter, Janie Wall (a PART Austin Table Director from 2003-2005), made a contribution in 2006 in memory of her mother establishing the Mitty Guerra Memorial Scholarship. Recently renamed the PART Austin Post-Secondary Scholarship, it continues to benefit Latinas in the Greater Austin area who need financial support to complete their college education.
Gloria Mata-Pennington (a current long-time member of PART Austin), made a generous contribution to PART Austin in the spring of 2020 to establish a scholarship for Latinas who, as first-generation college students in their family, need financial assistance to complete their education. Gloria served as Table Director of PART Austin from 2009-2011 and prior to that, served as Historian of the Alliance and as Director of Area A (Austin, Houston and Conroe).
PART membership forms only a small part of Gloria’s long and generous service to our community, which began when she came to Austin in 1964. Over the years she worked in education and politics, on behalf of the elderly, and in the Austin/Saltillo Sister Cities program. She also chaired the Fiesta de Independencia Committee, given by the Consul General of Mexico, and she served as member of the Hispanic Archives Committee of the Austin History Center and as president of the Austin Friends of Folk Art.
Her generous service has won her several honors. Among them, she was named one of the Outstanding Women of the Year for her work in the community; she was recognized for her long-time commitment to the Austin/Saltillo Sister Cities Association; and, she received a LifeTime Achievement award from the Mexican American Cultural Center.
PART Austin awarded its first Gloria Mata-Pennington Scholarship in the Spring of 2021. Recently it has been renamed the PART Austin First Generation Scholarship and continues to provide financial assistance to Latina students.
Pan American Round Table of Austin Archives are located at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
Pan American Round Tables of Texas Archives are located at the John Peace Library at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Alliance of Pan American Round Tables Archives are located at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin.