Adele Briscoe Looscan was the first woman president of the Texas State Historical Association, the longest-serving president of the association (1915–1925), and a remarkable individual. Daughter of Andrew Briscoe, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and granddaughter of John Richardson Harris, founder of Harrisburg, Texas, she was shaped and motivated by her heritage throughout her life.Adele Looscan was a woman of her time, yet she flourished in the society of both men and women, earning the respect of the former as an astute businesswoman and the admiration of the latter for her leadership and accomplishments.
As a clubwoman, she built an impressive résumé: charter member of the Texas State Historical Association; member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and the Texas Woman’s Press Association; president of the Houston City Federation of Women’s Clubs; and vice president of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs in its first year. She organized the Ladies’ Reading Club of Houston in 1885 and was instrumental in founding other literary clubs years before the organization of the Texas Federation.
Her contributions to Texas history appeared in many newspapers and in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. She used her influence to encourage public education and the preservation of historic landmarks and actively advocated for a state library, archives, and museum.
Her story is valuable and compelling for what it reveals about women and culture in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Texas and for what it reveals about the nature, origins, and shaping of Texas’s modern identity.