Envisioning a progressive city: Hogg family philanthropy and the urban ideal in Houston, Texas, 1910--1975
Kirkland, Kate Sayen
Boles, John B.
Doctor of Philosophy
Houston, Texas, the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, is home, to professional teams for all major sports, internationally acclaimed museums, a symphony orchestra, ballet and opera companies, commercial and repertory theaters, respected universities, the Texas Medical Center, and the Manned Spacecraft Center. Yet historians of the American city seldom include Houston in general surveys. Scholars who tackle Houston's history focus on the city's reputation as a "free-enterprise" business arena but ignore its citizens' philanthropic generosity, which has sustained the city's cultural, educational, and service institutions. For generations Houston pacesetters have espoused bold visions for urban development, but most biographers focus attention instead on their subjects' entrepreneurial genius. Among the many generous families that merit study, the three children of Progressive Governor James Stephen Hogg (1891--1895) were exemplary civic activists who articulated an urban ideal of good citizenship within a healthy community. They believed that public service through political participation, economic development through good business practice, and civic leadership through voluntarism were necessary components of community life. They served in appointive and elective offices and amassed a fortune in oil, real estate, and other enterprises. Their greatest impact lay in philanthropic careers: they supported city planning; pioneered preventive mental health care; established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health; and sponsored lectures and university scholarships. Will was a University of Texas regent; Ima served on Houston's Board of Education; Ima founded and sustained the Houston Symphony; and family generosity nurtured the Museum of Fine Arts for fifty years. Profoundly influenced by their parents' examples, the Hoggs' activism illuminates Progressivism, philanthropy, and civil society in the United States. Progressives like the Hoggs were proactive optimists whose moral response to social dislocations taught citizens they could improve their lives. Hogg philanthropies, which interpreted this promise of American life, help explain how millions of generous Americans build community institutions. The Hoggs' efforts to unite business leaders, politicians, and volunteers in partnerships of civic responsibility show how cooperation promotes democracy and fosters civil society. As the Hoggs were challenged a century ago to husband their oil wealth and build a great city, so must Houstonians today conserve resources to promote community goals and preserve diverse values.
American studies; American history; Modern history