HOUSTON CHAPTER DEBUTANTE BALL HISTORY
Jack and Jill's premise is that every child, with proper guidance and opportunity, can become a leader. Today, the organization has a membership of more than 9,500 families.
The Mothers of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Houston Chapter were officially installed on September 24, 1952 with 27 members. It was the first chapter in the South Central Region and the first chapter west of the Mississippi River. Today, Houston is one of 10 area chapters and boasts 129 members.
The idea of the debutante ball sometimes known as cotillion stems from a time when a girl of marriageable age was presented to society to find a husband of suitable social standing. The debutante ball is traditionally for a group of debutantes although some balls may be hosted with just one or two close relatives. Today, the majority of balls are held between November and January.
Modern debutante balls tend to be more common in the South, although they are still held throughout the U.S. Guests must be formally invited. The balls are often very elaborate affairs that require formal dress.
In a world where the lines between girl and woman are blurred, debutante balls are a defining rite of passage into womanhood. Breaking away from the outdated practice of introducing debutantes to society as candidates ripe for marriage, debutante balls usually promote well-rounded young ladies. Scholarship, community involvement, and etiquette are the points of interest in the social organizations that debut participants.
The Houston Chapter Debutante Ball is a culminating tribute to the young ladies of Jack and Jill. Each young lady having completed her high school education and enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning or pursuing post-secondary education is afforded the opportunity to be formally presented to Houston society in an elaborate and tastefully coordinated period of education and festive activities. The Houston Chapter Debutante Ball has been, and still remains a private, invitation only, non-fundraising, formal activity. The first Houston Chapter Debutante Ball was held under the leadership of chapter president, Demelesta Akens, in December 1960, a mere eight years after the Houston Chapter was established. Ten debutantes were presented at that ball, which was chaired by Nellie Joyce Punch.
Each Houston Chapter biennial ball is always held at one of the outstanding locations of the city. We have held Balls at the Shamrock Hilton, which was demolished in 1987, the Westin Galleria, the Hyatt Regency, and the Hilton Hotel Americas. The first Ball was held at the Sylvan Beach Community Center in LaPorte, Texas. Jack and Jill was the first African-American group to integrate the establishment.
To date, the smallest number of debutantes in the debutante class was the 1966 ball, which presented 3 debutantes and the largest debutante ball was in 2016 which presented 35 debutantes.
During the first planning year, special etiquette and training sessions were held at Texas Southern University.
Today when the young ladies are presented, they are noteworthy because of their academics, community involvement, and their preparedness for higher education. This is now an opportunity for our current Jack and Jill Debutantes to become a part of Houston Chapter Debutante Ball history.
Enjoy the season!