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The O.W.L.S. Club

By Frank Chamberlain

Social clubs have been a key component of student life at Tarleton for much of the school’s history. Until the arrival of fraternities and sororities to the campus in the early 1980s, such student organizations provided the primary means for the extracurricular activity of Tarleton students. This late introduction of fraternities and sororities was due to the fact that this school was a junior college for the majority of its existence and because of a ban on such groups imposed by the Texas A&M System that lasted until the 1980s. (Guthrie 359).

The O.W.L.S. were one of the longest lasting of the early social societies of Tarleton. This female organization was founded in 1924 with the purpose of being a “group of girls who strive to create a feeling of friendship and to promote a closer tie of social relationship among the girls of the college.” The acronym “O.W.L.S.” represented the optimistic words “Owls Win or Lose Smiling.” Like the other early campus clubs, the O.W.L.S. were primarily interested in promoting camaraderie by sponsoring celebrations such as the annual “Blue Christmas Ball” and the “Playboy Dance.” The O.W.L.S. had faded from the campus scene by the mid-1980s (last appearing in the 1984 Grassburr). (The J-TAC 3/18/69)

During World War II, the O.W.L.S. (under the sponsorship of May Jones) compiled photos and records of every Tarleton student and faculty member killed in action. This scrapbook contained personal information such as hometown, names of parents, and college major. It also included military related data including branch of service, awards received, and date, location, and manner of death. The diligence of Miss Jones and the O.W.L.S. club insured that the memory of these 181 fallen students would not be forgotten. This scrapbook is now held in the Tarleton archives at the Dick Smith Library and the contents are now available on this website.

Guthrie, Christopher. John Tarleton and his Legacy: The History of Tarleton State University, 1899-1999. Acton, MA: Tapestry Press, 1999.