The enclosed history of the Pan American Round Table movement is compiled by Mrs. Edward Beilharz of Los Gatos, California a member of the San Jose Table. It is sent to you with the Season's Greetings of your State Director of Pan American Round Tables of Texas.

Mrs. W. W. Hawkins
State Director, 1959 1961

Pan American Round Tables

What is a Pan American Round Table?

It is an organized group of women within the community, dedicated to the purposes and ideals of Pan-Americanism and chartered by the international Alliance of Pan American Round Tables, though separately autonomous.

What is Pan-Americanism as understood by a Round Table member?

In its literature, the Alliance of Pan American Round Tables has used a definition by Dr. Ricardo J. Alfaro, former president of Panama:

"Pan-Americanism is not an institution; neither is it a system. It is a state of mind, a current of opinion created by a series of factors:

geographical contiguity,
the similarity of institutions,
the interplay of economic interests,
a.love for democratic principles,
the community of international aspirations and trends.

Such a continental sentiment does not breed political purposes or designs. It simply interprets itself in acts tending to draw more closely the social, economic and cultural bonds of the two Americas."

How does a Pan American Round Table assist in the development of this "continental sentiment?"

By arranging that each of the twenty-two independent countries in the western hemisphere be represented within the table by a member or members, each to make it her purpose to understand and appreciate the culture and special problems of the country she represents.

The broader object, as stated in the constitution of the Alliance of Pan American Round Tables, is "to provide mutual knowledge, understanding and friendship among the peoples of the Western Hemisphere, and to foster movements towards a higher civilization, especially those affecting the women and children of these countries."

How can a Pan American Round Table be organized?

Any group of women who wish to form a table should acquaint themselves with the above purposes and with the framework constitution distributed by the Alliance through its associate directors.* This framework constitution is designed to assure the unanimity of purpose and the public spirited character of all tables. For this reason some clauses are required to be adopted verbatim. Others are offered as mere suggestions and may be adopted or rejected as desired.

Once acquainted with and in agreement with these purposes and methods, the new group should strive to achieve its required minimum membership of twenty-two.

When this goal has been reached, the group may submit its roster of members and a copy of its new constitution and by-laws to the national director or to the associate director* in charge of the area in which it is situated. This officer will then apply to the board of directors of the Alliance for a charter for the new table.

Founding and History of Pan American Round Tables

Mrs. Florence Terry Griswold, Foundress

Had grown up in San Antonio, Texas, a city steeped in racial differences.

Was acutely aware of need for friendship between U. S. citizens and neighbors beyond the border. Wanted to see more people dedicated to this cause.

Until 1916 had merely tried to influence her personal friends in this direction.

For example, she urged them to open their doors, as she did herself, to Mexican refugees, especially women and children, who fled across the border during the Mexican period of turbulent politics, 1910 to 1916 (Pancho Villa, Zapata, etc.)

Her decision to mobilize women for friendship arose out of several conditions:

Her experience with these refugees.

The advent of World War I in Europe, Aug., 1914, and its consequent lesson in dangers of nationalism. (Fear that a lodgement of some dangerous foreign segment in this hemisphere might bring disruptive influence. Existing lack of understanding made this more likely.)

Her admiration for the Pan American Union.

She came to understand Pan-Americanism thoroughly.

Was a personal friend of Mr. John Barrett, Director General of the Pan American Union (Jan. 1, 1907 to Sept. 1, 1920), and later of Dr. Leo S. Rowe his successor. Through these men she came to understand the aims of the Union:

Achieving an order of peace and justice.
Promoting American solidarity.
Strengthening collaboration among member states.
Defending their sovereignty, independence and international integrity.

Mrs. Griswold felt that the work of the Pan American Union could well be advanced by the women. Women, because of their social nature, were naturally suitable for work where friendship and understanding were the goal. They could study language and cultural differences --- and out of understanding grows friendship.

On the other hand out of friendship arises understanding.

She liked to picture the women of the Americas joining hands from Canada to the southern tip of South America "to forge an unbroken chain of friendship, reaching the length of the hemisphere."

"Who can resist an America," she asked, "united in heart in accordance with human and divine law, and following the torch of liberty?"

With her final purpose clearly in mind, Mrs. Griswold founded her first Pan American Round Table in San Antonio, Oct. 16, 1916, modeling it closely after the Pan American Union.

Took the Pan American Union title of "director" (not "president," nor "chairman").

Arranged that each country in the hemisphere should have its representative within the table an example universally followed today, and incorporated in the framework constitution which is distributed by the Alliance for the guidance of all new Pan American Round Tables.

Highlights from Early History
First Pan American Round Table: San Antonio, Texas

1916 Established, October 16th at meeting held in Menger Hotel.

1917 First Pan American conference between women of the U. S. and Mexico held at Gunter Hotel.

Was concluded with a banquet arranged by Mexican government.

1921 Pan American Round Table was invited to attend a meeting of the Federated Chambers of Commerce in Mexico City.

Good will gesture by the first lady of Mexico placed a special railway car at the disposal of the group. (This was Sra. Doña María Tapía de Obregón. She also entertained the members at tea in historic Chapultepec castle.)

Same year, the Pan American Round Table was invited by Sr. Juan M. García the governor of the state of Nuevo León, to send a delegation for a day's visit in Monterrey.

1921-22 Founding of first additional tables, those of:

Laredo, Texas. El Paso Texas. Austin, Texas.

1923 Members of Pan American Round Table invited to attend first Feminist Congress held in Mexico City.

Mesdames Eli Hertzberg, J. C. Griswold, and J. B. Lewright attended. Mrs. Hertzberg was appointed Parliamentarian for the meeting.

1925 Visit to San Antonio of the Foreign Relations Minister of Mexico, Mr. Aaron Saenz, by invitation of the Pan American Round Table.

1928 Establishment of the first Pan American Round Table outside the United States. (Founded in Mexico City in October.)

1929 Mexico City Round Table sent a delegation to Texas to attend the inauguration of Gov. Pat Neff.

1935 Mrs. Griswold was invited by Sra. Luz Cosío de López of Mexico City to assist her in the organization of the Unión Femenina Ibero Americana.

Busy year. The San Antonio table also acted as hostess to:

Members of Mexico City Round Table. Members of Unión Femenina Ibero Americana.

Good will travelers, one of whom was Mrs. Angela Acuña de Chacón of Costa Rica, who founded the first Pan American Round Table beyond Mexico (in San Jose de Costa Rica) the following year.

Note: Mrs. de Chacón was the first woman lawyer in Costa Rica, and has since taught much in USA, especially at the University of California at Los Angeles.

1940 Death of Mrs. Griswold.

Summary: It will be noted that the first efforts and successes at friendship of the original table were with the women of Mexico. This is natural, for Texas borders on Mexico for so many hundreds of miles. At the same time it can be looked back on as the soundest kind of beginning. Since it involved two countries, which had once been enemies, it demonstrated very well that the ideals of Pan-Americanism are within reach.

Expansion of Movement

1916-1927. Confined to Texas.

1928. Crossed border into Mexico.

1942-1947. Central America and larger Caribbean area.

1948-1955. South America.

(And California (San Jose), 1952).

(For more detailed notes on expansion, see next page.)

Chronology of Expansion
Pan American Round Table Movement

Original founding, 1916, and growth in home region through 1927.

USA Texas: San Antonio, Oct. 16, 1916.

Laredo (1921); El Paso (1921); and Austin (1922).

First crossing of international boundary, 1928, and strengthening through 1941.

Mexico Mexico City (1928).

Simultaneous growth in old home region:

USA Texas: Brownsville (1932); McAllen (1934); Dallas (Table I, 1937), (Table 11, 1940); Beaumont (1939); Houston (1940); Corsicana (1941).

Expansion into Caribbean area, including northern South America, 1942-47.

Honduras Tegucigalpa (1942).

Cuba Havana (1943).

F-Icaragua Managua (1943).

Costa Rica San Jose de (1940);Alajuela (1943).

El Salvador San Salvador (1944)

Colombia Bogotá (1944).

Venezuela Caracas (1947).

Simultaneous growth in old home regions:

USA Texas: Ft. Worth (1944); Wichita Falls (1946).

New Mexico: Albuquerque (1944); Deming (1945).

Mexico Monterrey (1944).

Extension through South America, 1948-55.

Argentina Buenos Aires (1948).

Chile Santiago (1948).

Brazil Rio de Janeiro (First table, 1952; another 1955).

Porto Alegre (1954); Cruz Alta (1954).

Peru Lima (1952).

Uruguay Montevideo (1954).

Bolivia Cochabamba (1955); La Paz (1955).

Paraguay Asuncion (1955).

Filling in, 1948 to date:

Guatemala Guatemala City (1954).

Dominica Republic Ciudad Trujillo (1955).

Some newer tables in previous home areas:

USA Texas: San Benito (1948) , Conroe (1949) Alamo (1949); Rio Grande City (1951); Denton (1951) New Mexico: Las Cruces (1949). Kentucky: Albany (1951). California: San Jose (1952).

Honduras La Ceiba (1948); San Pedro Sulá (1948).

Nicaragua Masaya (1949); León (1951).

Mexico v Torreón (1952) Reynosa (1953); Durango (1955); Matamoros (1956)

Colombia Manizales (1953)

Note: The story of expansion on the preceding page is not to be looked upon as an index to existing tables. Some Round Tables mentioned there have gone out of existence; others have been founded in countries not mentioned (e. g. both Panama, Panama and Quito, Ecuador were to be found on a 1957 address list of Pan American Round Table directors.)

No attempt will be made here to draw up a current list. It is hoped that one may soon be forthcoming from the Alliance Executive Board to replace the November 1957 list, which has since gone out of date.

International Conventions, Pan American Round Tables

First. Mexico, Mexico, D. F. Oct., 1944
(Elected as Director General: Mrs. J. Stone Robinson of Dallas, Texas, USA)

Second. Cuba, Havana May 12-18, 1947
(Elected as Director General: Mrs. Maurice V. Hugo of Mexico City.)
In attendance: Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, USA

Third. USA, Dallas, Texas, March, 1951
(Elected as Director General: Sra. Olimpia Varela y Varela of Tegucigalpa, Honduras)
In attendance: USA, Mexico, Cuba.

Fourth. Mexico, Monterrey, N. L Nov. 9-12, 1953
(Elected as Director General: Mrs. L. G. Waltrip of Dallas, Texas, USA)
In attendance: Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, and USA

Fifth. Brazil, Porto Alegre, R.S * Nov., 1955
(Elected as Director General: Mrs. William E. Hendrix of Mexico City.)
In attendance: Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, USA

Sixth. USA El Paso, Texas Feb. 2-6 1958
(Elected as Director General: Sra. Ottilia de 0. Chaves of Porto Alegre, Brazil.)
In attendance: USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil.

Alliance of Pan American Round Tables

Officers of the Executive Board, 1958-1960

Director General
Sra. Ottilia 0. de Chaves
Caixa Postal 1905
Porto Alegre, R. G. S.
Brazil, South America

lst Associate Director
Sra. Amparo Menes de Arenas
6A Ave. Santa Clara 12-24 Zona 10
Guatemala
In charge of: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama, Central. America.

2nd Associate Director
Sra. Marta Barriento de Torrico
25 de Mayo, Apartado 95
Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America
In charge of: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

3rd Associate Director
Sra. Julia Zuniga de Baín
Calle Real
Comayagüela, D. C., Honduras, C. A
In charge of: Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Perú, and Venezuela.

4th Associate Director
Sra. Alicia R. de Holguín
Ave. Hidalgo Pte. 1470
Monterrey, N. L., Mexico
In charge of: Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

5th Associate Director
Mrs. James Cicil Nelson
Winchester Road
San Antonio, Texas, USA
In charge of: Eastern USA and Canada. (Line drawn north and south through San Antonio, Texas.)

6th Associate Director
Mrs. Alfred M. Granum
1211 Sigma Chi Rd., N. E.
Albuquerque, N. M., USA
In charge of: Western USA and Canada

Recording Secretary
Sra. Emma E. de Gutierrez Suarez
Campeche 334-5
Mexico 5, D. F., Mexico

Corresponding Secretary
Sra. Haydée Leâs de Madureira
Miguel Tostes 270
Porto Alegre, R. S., Brazil, S. A.

Treasurer
Miss Edith Sinnett
1204 N. Irving Heights Drive
Irving, Texas, USA

Historian
Sra. Isabel Arceniegas de Uricoechea
Carrera 8a 75-14
Bogota, Colombia, S. A.

Parliamentarian
Mrs. W. W. Hawkins
1303 Elm St.
El Paso, Texas, USA

Past Director General
Mrs. W. E. Hendrix
(Ex-officio member of the board)
Vicente García Torres 120
Coyoacán 21, D. F., Mexico

Work of Pan American Round Tables

I. With the general public.

Universal interest in Pan American Day and its celebration.

Entertaining foreign visitors, such as professors and members of good will tours.

Radio and TV programs on Pan American subjects.

Arrangement of public lectures on Pan American subjects.

Adult education for women. (A special field of interest in areas where illiteracy is high. Members donate their time to teaching, reading and writing.)

Founding of Pan American libraries, or donations to public libraries. (Many Pan American corners.)

International rooms. (San Antonio table sponsored the first, at Gunter Hotel in home city. Houston Table and others have done the same.)

Exhibits; window displays; etc., to arouse interest in other countries.

Magazine publishing. (Chiefly by Latin American tables, such as Guatemala and Tegucigalpa. US tables have not attempted.)

II. With students of college or high school age.

Scholarships, especially international. (Wide interest in this subject.)

Room and board for foreign students when possible, or at least entertainment of and efforts to make feel at home.

Essay contests with cash prizes.

Sponsoring of Pan-American clubs or forums.

III. With children.

Teaching of foreign languages; English, Spanish, especially. (Brazil urges Portuguese.) T. V. medium often used. Private classes for children's groups.

Persuasion of public school officials to begin language teaching in primary school. (Best learning-age, many believe.)

IV. Work with other tables. (Too little of this. A 1955 questionnaire revealed that all tables expressed a desire to have closer relationship with others. Isolation sometimes kills. Ideas needed!)

A Rio de Janeiro table worked towards book exchange with others.

Some members do correspond with friends in distant tables.

Travelers between tables are readily entertained.

V. Work within tables.

All tables, without exception, expect their members to learn what they can about the countries they represent. This phase of the work is taken very seriously in Latin America.

Studies include geography and history; literature and arts; culture, customs, and institutions; language when possible.

Some tables undertake language study as a group, holding regular classes after meetings or at other times.

The very beautiful magazine, Panamericana, published by the Guatemala table, has been offered to the service of the Alliance. Subscription inquiries could well be made.

Back to Resources Library...

Return to PARTT Homepage...