Hogg, Ima

Civic leader, art collector, musician, and philanthropist, Ima Hogg's interests and passions included music, art, antiques, minority issues, mental health, education, and historical preservation. Her passion and dedication to these diverse interests in her home state of Texas, particularly in the city of Houston, made her one of the most respected and admired women in Texas history.

Biographical Highlights

Ima Hogg (1882-1975) was a civic leader, art collector, musician, and philanthropist. Her interests and passions included music, art, antiques, minority issues, mental health, education, and historical preservation. Her passion and dedication to these diverse interests in her home state of Texas, particularly in the city of Houston, made her one of the most respected and admired women in Texas history.

Historic Roots

Ima Hogg, born July 10, 1882, in Mineola, Texas, was named by her father, James Stephen Hogg, after a Civil War poem written by her uncle (Anderson 2002, 65). Mr. Hogg failed to realize the consequences of naming his little girl "Ima Hogg" until Ima had already been christened. Contrary to popular rumor, Ima did not have a sister named "Ura" and such gossip upset her throughout her life. Aside from this, Ima never shirked from her given name and, when introducing herself, merely paused slightly between her first and last name.

By 1881, Ima's father had become the first native-born governor of Texas. James Hogg was a tough, yet gentle, man and was very involved in the lives of Ima and her three brothers, Tom, Will and Mike. His role as governor allowed Ima to grow up in a very political household which probably shaped the extremely liberal views that she held throughout her lifetime. James Hogg also introduced Ima to philanthropy by taking her on visits to state hospitals, prisons and schools for the blind and deaf. As a result of these visits, Ima gained great empathy for emotionally disturbed individuals often forgotten by society (Ibid., 66).

Ima's mother, Sarah "Sallie" Hogg, also imparted values to her daughter that later influenced her philanthropic interests. Sallie taught Ima the importance of music, decorating and entertaining. She was gentle and supportive and, although she died when Ima was only fourteen, her values lived on through her daughter's life. A few years after her mother's death, Ima entered the University of Texas at Austin at age seventeen. After studying there two years, she left to study piano at the National Conservatory of Music in New York.

Yet, back in Texas, the effects of the Texas oil rush, which began in the late nineteenth century, were impacting Texas, the nation and the Hogg family. Investors flocked to the state to find oil and natural gas deposits, especially after the famous discovery of the Spindletop oil well in 1901. Meanwhile, James Hogg moved his family to the Varner Plantation in West Columbia, Texas, where he believed there might be oil. Mr. Hogg believed this so strongly that he prohibited his children from selling the land until fifteen years after his death. This rush for "black gold" eventually became the source of the Hogg family's wealth, which they later used for the benefit of Texas and its citizens.

In 1907, Ima moved to Europe to study piano. Trained as a concert pianist, she studied under Austrian and German instructors. However, during this time Ima also suffered from a deep depression. Although not much is known about this period in her life, she returned to the United States in 1909 completely recovered.

Upon her return to America, Ima was disappointed in the lack of musical opportunities in her home state of Texas. Although described as modest and shy, she exhibited "a determination and perseverance that were to have tremendous impact on those around her" (Iscoe 1976, 14). In her determination to improve the musical scene in Texas, Hogg founded the Houston Symphony. She spent hours calling individuals for donations and soliciting advertisements. Her goal was to create a symphony which brought together all types and classes of people.

In 1906, Ima's father passed away and, per his request, the Hogg children did not sell the property at Varner Plantation. Thirteen years later, they found enough oil on the property to make the family very wealthy.

Because this wealth did not come from hard work, but from the land, the Hogg children never believed that the money truly belonged to them. They spent the rest of their lives ensuring that "the money was used wisely to benefit the state from which it came" (Neeley 1992, 60).

In 1930, Miss Ima, as she was often called, suffered another tragedy with the death of her brother Will. Although Will bequeathed most of his estate to the University of Texas, the leftover $2.5 million was left to Ima to be used for the "good of the people of Texas" (Culler and Holtzman 1990, 5). Ima used this money to create the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas. The main goal of the Foundation was to provide direct support services, especially for young people.

In addition to her interests in mental health and music, Hogg was also very involved in artwork, education and antiques. Ima was an avid art collector and owned a large collection of American Indian Art as well as works from Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Modigliani (Anderson 2002, 66). After her brother's death (Mike passed in 1941), she donated his collection of Frederic Remington artwork to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts. This has now become a permanent collection in the museum called the Hogg Brothers Collection (Neeley 1992, 75).

Education was extremely important to the Hogg family, as evidenced by Jim, Will, and Ima's constant support of Texas colleges and universities. In 1943, Ima was elected to the Houston School Board in her sole term in a public office. While on the school board, she fought for such issues as equal pay for women and minority teachers. She also set up counseling services for emotionally disturbed students and established symphony concerts for school children. Always the forward thinker, Miss Ima also introduced art classes into black schools at a time when schools were still segregated and only white students enjoyed these opportunities.

Perhaps Ima's greatest contribution to Texas was her collection of antiques. She began to collect antiques, in 1920, after greatly admiring a Queen Anne chair that artist Wayman Adams owned. Ima told Will, her brother, "we have a rare opportunity to collect American antiques for a museum in Texas. It has never been done before" (Ibid., 67). Ima and Will eventually built a house near Buffalo Bayou in Houston in which Ima lived and stored her treasures until 1958 when she decided to make the home into a museum. In March 1966, Bayou Bend, as it is now called, was dedicated as the new Decorative Arts wing of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

In an effort to preserve the landmarks that she loved so much, Ima later created the Varner-Hogg museum in her father's memory. In her eighties, Miss Ima was active in restoring the Old Stage Coach Inn in Winedale. In fact, she was so involved that she personally supervised the carpenters and took a class in New York on restoration methods. In 1967, she donated the project to the University of Texas as an "outdoor museum of cultural history" (Ibid., 86).

Even at the age of 90, Miss Ima was incredibly active in the community. She was known to live in the present, not in the past. Many said that she was more in touch with the younger generation than with her own. In fact, Ima Hogg loved the Beatles, jazz and even the circus until the time of her death on August 19, 1975. Miss Ima Hogg's actions affected Texas in profound ways and will never be forgotten. Her love of her state and its people was demonstrated throughout her life and witnessed through her constant kindness and humble contributions. As Neeley notes,

    She was a link to Texas's past, in which the modern state was an improbable dream and she was the dreamer; and she stood for the future, too, as she gave Texas all the gifts that would outlive her. (1992, 93)


Ima Hogg not only helped create the currently thriving, culturally-enhanced, state of Texas, she also held many novel ideas throughout her life that greatly influenced Texan society. Her desire to help the emotionally disturbed endorsed the idea that they could be vital members of society. Her assistance of minorities helped break the chains of segregation in many Texas schools.

Additionally, her education and prominence as a woman furthered the women's movement of the period. In 1963, she was the first woman to win the University of Texas' Distinguished Alumni Award and she was the first recipient of the University of Texas' Santa Ana award (in 1968). She was also one of only two women to sit on the Houston School Board during her term and only one of two women ever to be named President of the prestigious Philosophical Society of Texas. Finally, Miss Ima was appointed by both President Eisenhower and President Kennedy to advisory committees concerning the arts.

Perhaps the most important quality about Miss Ima was that she not only funded projects, but also supervised them and became invested in their growth and success. As a guest speaker stated when Ima won the Rotary Club's Distinguished Citizen Award in 1969:

    "History records many people who have earned distinction by their capacity to visualize and conceive constructive projects others who have gained honor by their ability to carry out such projects, still others whose financial generosity in support of such projects has brought them widespread respect. Rare indeed, however, are those persons in whom all three of these essential proclivities are abundantly combined. Such a person is Miss Hogg." (Iscoe 1976, 14)

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector:

Ima Hogg's ties to the philanthropic sector ranged from education to the arts. However, her constant goal was to create equal opportunities for all people and to improve the quality of life for Texans. She not only served as a donor to the nonprofit sector, but also contributed her time and ideas to philanthropy. It was this constant involvement, combined with her diverse interests, which created such profound changes in Texas. Additionally, Ima did not simply expect this behavior of herself, but of all those around her. She was instrumental in beginning many fundraising drives and in assembling groups of people together whom she believed could create societal improvements. Her funds, ideas and influence are still evident in the organizations that she created decades ago.

Key Related Ideas

  • American antiques

  • Art education

  • Decorative arts

  • Donor involvement

  • Education for all or (equal opportunities in education)

  • Mental health care and (mental health care for children)

  • Minority Rights

  • Philanthropic support of the arts

  • Texas oil rush

  • Women's equality

  • Women's Suffrage movement

Ima Hogg lived during an era that saw many social changes. The Women's Suffrage movement in the early 1920s, the Great Depression, the desegregation of schools, and the Civil Rights movement all occurred during Miss Ima's lifetime and probably had profound effects on her view of the world.

Ima's independence as a woman and her great strides in women's equality set an example for the women's movement of the time. Additionally, issues such as the Great Depression probably increased her compassion for the poor and excluded members of society. Finally, Ima worked to increase the rights of minorities and give all children, regardless of race or color, equal opportunities in education. Hogg was also a prime influence in a number of areas. She served as a catalyst in Texas for the notion that mentally and emotionally disturbed individuals were not hopeless causes. Additionally, she expressed the idea that helping children

solve their problems when they were young could improve their chances of living a healthy adulthood. Her innovative thoughts about American antiques as artwork and her substantial contributions led to a new vision of decorative arts in America.

Important People Related to the Topic

James Hogg (1851-1906), Ima's father, was the first native-born governor of Texas. His generous nature and examples of giving inspired the future philanthropic behavior of the Hogg siblings. It was his instincts about the land he bought that made his children examples of wealth gained during the Texas oil rush.

Will Hogg (1875-1930), Ima's brother, made many anonymous contributions to the University of Texas which helped keep the university afloat during fiscal difficulties. He was also extremely involved in Houston's beautification projects, creating many of the public parks that are used in the city today.

Henry Francis du Pont was the grandson of Henry du Pont, who made one of the country's largest fortunes of the time in gunpowder. Du Pont was one of Ima's close friends and greatly influenced her antique collecting.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas is located in Austin, Texas, and its mission remains "to develop and conduct….a broad mental health program of great benefit to the people of Texas" (Hogg Foundation for Mental Health 2002).

The Ima Hogg Foundation was incorporated at the University of Texas in 1964 by Ima Hogg. Its purpose is to "support mental health service programs for children in the Houston area" (Culler III and Holtzman 1990). It has played a major role in funding the Houston Child Guidance Center, one of Ima's beloved projects.

Bayou Bend houses Ima Hogg's extensive collection of decorative arts from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and is a part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. It is currently the second largest collection of American antiques in the United States.

The Houston Symphony was founded by Ima Hogg in 1913. Her goal was that it would be "an instrument for bringing together all levels of Houston society" (Neeley 1992, 37).

The University of Texas was heavily supported both financially and through the fundraising of the Hogg Family, particularly Ima and Will.

Varner-Hogg State Historical Park represents one of Ima's historical preservation projects. In memory of her father, Ima restored the Varner plantation which is now a museum for Texas history. It was given to the state of Texas in 1958.

Related Web Sites

The Handbook of Texas Online gives a very detailed description of Ima Hogg's life, with descriptions of the awards that she won and where she is buried (at http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/HH/fho16.html).

Historic Houston: Great Houstonians: Miss Ima Hogg Web site presents biographical information on Ima Hogg and includes a photograph of her (at http://www.houstonhistory.com/ghoustonians/history8ff.htm).

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Web site, at http://hogg.utexas.edu/, provides information on the history of the organizations, its publications, current operating programs and grantmaking activities. The Foundation supports "mental health service and research projects in Texas. "

Bibliography and Internet Sources

---- "Hogg, Ima." In Commire, Anne, ed. And Deborah Klezmer, associate ed., Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Yorkin Publishers, 2000 edition.

Anderson, Greta. More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Texas Women. Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2002. ISBN: 0762712732 (paperback).

Culler III, Ralph E., and Wayne H. Holtzman. The Ima Hogg Foundation: Miss Ima's Legacy to the Children of Houston. Austin: Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1990.

Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0195206355.

The Handbook of Texas Online. Ima Hogg. [cited 20 November 2002]. Available from http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/HH/fho16.html.

Historic Houston. Great Houstonians: Miss Ima Hogg. [cited 20 November 2002]. Available from http://www.houstonhistory.com/ghoustonians/history8ff.htm.

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. 2000-2001 Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Annual Report. [cited 20 November 2002]. Available from

Iscoe, Louise Kosches. Ima Hogg: First Lady of Texas. Austin: Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1976.

Lomax, John A. Will Hogg, Texan. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956.

Neeley, Gwendolyn Cone. Miss Ima Hogg and the Hogg Family. Dallas: Hendrick-Long Publishing, 1992. ISBN: 0937460796.

Sicherman, Barbara, Carol Hurd Green, with Ilene Kantrov and Harriette Walker, eds. Notable American Women: Modern Period; A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980. ISBN 0674627326.

This paper was developed by a student taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at the Center on Philanthropy at Indihttp://learningtogive.org/papers/maint/edit_paper.asp?mode=edit&bpid=104ana University. It is offered by Learning To Give and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.