Petroleum company women host first convention in 1952 at Houston’s Shamrock Hotel.


Since its founding a few years after World War II, a national association of women in the petroleum business has “ebbed and flowed with the tides of the energy and allied industries.” 

The trade group began when a secretary at Humble Oil & Refining Company organized a 1949 meeting in New Orleans. Three years later, representatives from other cities gathered there to establish the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs (ADDC) of North America. 

Articles of association were signed on July 23, 1951, by the president of the New Orleans club and the presidents of clubs founded in Jackson, Mississippi, Los Angeles, California, and Houston, Texas. The newly organized group of business women began promoting energy education in the United States and Canada. 

Association of desk and derrick clubs logo.

The first Desk and Derrick club was founded in New Orleans in 1949.

“Greater Knowledge — Greater Service” became the ADDC motto of women working primarily as secretaries in the oil and natural industry. Many began organizing clubs in dozens of other oil producing states.

ADDC got its start thanks to the Humble Oil secretary who established the first club in New Orleans, according to the Permian Basin Petroleum Association magazine PB Oil & Gas

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“Inez Awty (later Schaeffer) was tired of writing reports about things she knew little about and believed women working for oil companies wanted to see and know more about a derrick and other aspects of the industry,” noted the 2012 article.

Awty’s Humble Oil & Refining Company had been founded in 1911, thanks to a giant oilfield discovery at Humble, Texas, four years after the famous 1901 Spindletop gusher. Production from the Humble field exceeded the total for Spindletop by 1946.

 Desk and Derrick Club members at meeting in 1950s.

By 1951, there were 1,500 Desk and Derrick members in the United States and Canada. Photo courtesy Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

“Miss Awty thought if men in the oil industry could be organized and know other men outside their own company, then the women could do likewise,” the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported in 1951.

The charter clubs dedicated themselves to “the education and professional development of individuals employed in or affiliated with the petroleum, energy and allied industries and to educate the general public about these industries.”

The PB Oil & Gas article added that in April 1957, a guest speaker was a young Midlander named George H.W. Bush, who reviewed offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Bit of Fun” 

According to the ADDC website, educating youth about earth science and how the petroleum industry works is part of the Desk and Derrick mission. Since 2004, the group has published (in English and Spanish) “Bit of Fun with PetroMolly and PetroMack,” an energy activity book designed for third and fourth graders.

In 1957, the organization’s members adopted a motto, “Greater Knowledge — Greater Service.” 

In 1982, ADDC established The Desk and Derrick Educational Trust, “for the purpose of awarding scholarships to students pursuing a degree in a major field of study related to the petroleum, energy, or allied industries, with the objective of obtaining full time employment in the industry.”

A foundation was established in 1987 to assist members in developing educational projects and programs.

In 2018, about 1,200 women — and men — employed in or affiliated with the energy and allied industries comprised 48 clubs in seven regions. Membership numbers fluctuate in close relation to the state of the oil and gas industry — and oil prices.

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ADDC has since continued to promote its energy education mission using a variety of programs, including seminars, field trips, and individual clubs hosting the annual national convention. 

“Thousands of hours of education have been provided for members through monthly programs on the many facets of this industry and given by speakers ranging from company CEO’s to oil-well-fire fighters.”

ADDC Milestones

1949 – The first club is founded in New Orleans by Inez Awty Schaeffer.

July 23, 1951 – Articles of association are signed by presidents of the clubs founded earlier in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston and Jackson, Mississippi.

December 1-2, 1951 – First Board of Directors meet in New Orleans.

Desk and Derrick Club Bit of Fun book for kids.

ADDC published its first “Bit of Fun” Energy Activity Book in 2004.

1952 – A newsletter is published (today’s The Desk and Derrick Journal) after Josephine Nolen of Odessa, Texas, wins a contest for its name: The Oil and Gal Journal.

1952 – The first convention is held at the Shamrock Hotel in Houston led by the first association president, Lee Wilson Hoover. Forty member clubs are represented by almost 1,000 registrants. The Shamrock Hotel was the largest in the United States at the time. Independent producer Glenn H. “Diamond Glenn” McCarthy spent $21 million to build it. 

1957 – “Greater Knowledge — Greater Service” is adopted as a motto.

1977 – “of North America” is deleted from the association’s name and the acronym ADDC becomes common usage.

1987 – The ADDC Foundation is established and the first issue of The Desk and Derrick Journal published, replacing the Oil and Gal Journal.

1988 – Delegates at the annual convention approve equitable membership in the association, opening membership to men.

1996 – The first association website goes online in September.

2001 – Celebration of the association’s 50th anniversary year.

2004 – ADDC publishes its first “Bit of Fun” energy activity book.

2010 – Website is revamped; updated and improved.

2022 Regions & Clubs

The annual national ADDC Convention & Conference, which will be hosted by the Northeast Region, has been set for September 21 to 25, 2022, at the DoubleTree Hotel Pittsburgh/Meadow Lands in Washington, Pennsylvania. The West Region will host the 2023 gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Map of the chapters of the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs 2022.

2022 map of Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs courtesy

Central Region Clubs: Butler County, Dallas, Enid, Fort Worth, Graham, Great Bend, Liberal, Lone Star Club of Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, and Wichita Falls.

Northeast Region Clubs: Bay Area, Buckeye, Heartland Southern Illinois, Ohio Valley, Oil Heritage, Penn-York Oil & Gas Affiliates, Three Rivers, Tri-State, Tuscarawas Valley, and West Virginia.

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Southeast Region Clubs: Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, El Dorado, Lafayette, Morgan City, New Orleans, North Harris/Montgomery counties, Red River, San Antonio, Victoria, and Westbank.

West Region Clubs: Abilene, Alberta Foothills, Amarillo, Artesia, Farmington, Grande, Prairie, Midland, Pampa, and Roswell.

ADDC maintains links to each region’s club websites.

ADDC Field Trips

ADDC annual conventions have included field trips to offshore and onshore drilling rigs, refineries, manufacturing plants, and pipeline facilities. The 2013 convention in West Virginia took place in late September in Charleston, and coordinator Melinda Johnson managed the “Autumn in Appalachia” 62nd annual convention. At the time, the local club had 95 companies that were members.

The convention program included education seminars and the choice of five day-long field trips. Among the seminars were Five Traits of Professionalism; Intro to Petroleum Engineering; Hot Oil and Gas Plays in the Appalachian Basin; Formulas and More — Excel Training; and Leadership and Effective Communication.

On one of the field trips, service company representatives from Nabors Services provided a seminar and demonstration on fracturing treatments in the Marcellus Shale. Convention attendees learned the steps in performing a hydraulic fracturing treatment and the difference between how a conventional reservoir and an unconventional reservoir is fractured.

Another field trip visited a Halliburton oil field service yard for education on coil tubing — with a “snubbing” unit demonstration. Another trip was to a Baker Hughes center in Clarksburg where visitors learned about directional drilling and viewed down hole motors, rotary steerable subs, and different kinds of drill bits.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact © 2023 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Desk and Derrick Educators.” Author: AOGHS.ORG Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: July 15, 2023. Original Published Date: July 21, 2014.


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