The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech – 2016 Edition

For the last two years, our University Archives Women’s History Month exhibit entitled “The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech” has graced our hallways. It celebrates several women whose influence on Texas Tech University is still felt today. This year is no exception, and the exhibit has received several new additions for 2016! Check them out:

Hortense Dixon poster-sm

The first of this year’s celebrated Red Raider women is Hortense Williams Dixon, the first African American to graduate from Texas Tech with a doctorate degree. Born in 1926 in Houston, Texas, Dixon received her first degree, a B.S. from Prairie View State College, in 1946. An M.S. from the University of Minnesota followed in 1949, and in1970 she finally received an Ed.D. degree from Texas Tech. She specialized in education with a minor in home economics, which led to several academic positions including: Director of the Home Management Residence at Bishop College; Assistant Professor of Home Economics Education at Texas Southern University; and Part-time Instructor in Home Economics Education at Texas Tech University. After graduating from Texas Tech, Dixon returned to Houston to continue serving as an Associate Professor in home economics at Texas Southern University.

EdnaGott-Adj

Edna Maynard Gott was born on March 19, 1920, in Chandler, Texas. After receiving a B.S. in Economics from the University of Texas in 1942 and an M.S. from Texas Tech in 1954, she became an instructor in Economics at Tech. For more than a decade she battled with the department and university administration for equality in teaching rank, promotion, and tenure. In the spring of 1973 she was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor, and nine years later became the first woman to achieve tenure in the Department of Economics.

Her work focused on the economic status and challenges facing women and minorities. To advance the cause for women’s rights she not only unmasked the inequities toward female faculty in academia, but also coordinated the Lubbock Chapter of the National Organization of Women. Gott was also an active member of the International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies where she served on the Women in Development committee and was a founding member of the Women’s Studies Program.

MaxineFryPoster

Born on July 5, 1917, in Lockney, Texas, Maxine Fry enrolled in Texas Tech in 1934 to study journalism. An active participant in campus life, Fry was a member of The Forum (later renamed Mortar Board), president of the Las Chaparitas sorority (later renamed Kappa Kappa Gamma), an occasional reporter for the Toreador newspaper, and winner of several school beauty contests including being named a 1938 Sun Bowl Princess.

In May 1937 she became the first elected female president of the Student Council. Under her leadership, Fry was able to successfully reinstate the school’s bonfire tradition. Bonfires had been banned by school administrators following outrage by Lubbock citizens over vandalism and theft of wood by Tech students. Her administration also wrote a revision of the Student Council’s constitution.

Fry went on to teach journalism for two years in Littlefield and Grandfalls, worked on The Midlander Magazine for its first seven years in publication, and was a charter member of the Midland Symphony Guild.

Marsha Sharp Cutting net

Marsha Sharp grew up playing three-on-three basketball in Tulia, Texas. During her junior year at Wayland Baptist University she began her basketball coaching career when she took charge of the freshman team. After graduating with a master’s degree from West Texas State University, Sharp transferred to Lockney High School as head coach of the Lady Longhorns.

In 1981 she joined Texas Tech as an assistant coach, and during her tenure became one of the most celebrated coaches in the history of women’s college basketball. Coaching the Lady Raiders from 1982 to 2006, Sharp elevated the program to national prominence.

Though she retired from coaching in 2006, her legacy continues. Established in 2004, the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes provides student-athletes with academic services. Currently serving as Associate Athletic Director of Special Projects, Sharp oversees the development of the Fearless Champions Leadership Academy and the Marsha Sharp Leadership Circle.

Anne Lynch Poster-sm

As an Animal Science major, Anne Lynch participated in Texas Tech’s Block and Bridle Club and Rodeo Club. While working in the horse barn of the Texas Tech Farm, Lynch became familiar with Happy V, the horse serving as the university’s animal mascot, and began riding him. She auditioned for the role of the Masked Rider, and in 1974 became the first female chosen to ride the sidelines for Texas Tech.

Although she had grown up riding horses and was familiar with Happy V, Lynch’s selection was met with skepticism. In the minds of some, women did not have the strength to handle the reins. Lynch had to convince football coach Jim Carlin and Animal Science chair Dale Zinn that she could indeed ride. Reaction to a female Masked Raider was mixed, but she had a successful year representing Texas Tech. Her proficiency in this role paved the way for future women to try out for the Masked Rider. Anne Lynch Hanson graduated from Tech in 1975.

Lucille Graves Poster-sm

40 years ago, Lucille Graves sat down with one of our oral historians to share her story as the first African American student at Texas Technological University. Having already received her bachelor’s degree in 1961, Graves tried to attend Texas Tech to receive her masters but was repeatedly refused entrance on the grounds that its charter stipulated that the university was established for white students only. With the help of the NAACP, she confronted the university and was at last admitted after a phone call from Texas Tech President R. C. Goodwin. Soon Tech saw a peaceful, non-violent integration of the traditionally white college. In 1955 Graves was also the founder of Mary and Mac, the first black private school in Lubbock, Texas. She chose the name of her school after the children’s nursery rhyme, declaring that the “poem depicts the act of boys and girls in their desire to become useful in this society.”

So stop on by and visit the “Women Who Shaped Texas Tech” exhibit, or its companion exhibit in the main Library. They will be on display until June, so you have plenty of time to take them in.

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African American Collections at the SWC!

Daniel BensonThis Monday, January 20th, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With that in mind, we’d like to share a little about our collections documenting African American history. The Southwest Collection (SWC) houses a tremendous amount of material on this topic, including books, oral histories, photographs, newspapers, and the papers and records of people and organizations. In fact, because we preserve so many items, we’re going to highlight this week only items related to the Lubbock, Texas area (where the SWC lives, in case you didn’t know yet!)

The SWC contains more than two-dozen manuscript collections that refer to African-Americans from the slave era until the present day. As an example, the image above is an excerpt from the Daniel H. Benson Records, documenting the career of the titular Lubbock area lawyer. The subject of this material was described as a “class action suit on behalf of all Black and Mexican American citizens in the City of Lubbock…(challenging) the at large election system [then] used to elect council men to the City Council.”  The original suit was filed in 1976 and the ruling was appealed in 1979. The summary shared above is just one of nearly 1,000 pages of documentation that can be viewed not only in our Reference room, but also among our digital collections.

cook at the college inn

In our files are well over 130 professionally conducted oral history interviews relating to African Americans throughout Texas spanning nearly 45 years! In addition, photographs of African Americans appear in numerous collections. The photo shared here is of a cook who worked at the College Inn, a Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) women’s dormitory.

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Our newspaper collections are vast. In addition to the general run of dozens of regional and local newspapers available on microfilm and digitally, the SWC maintains a virtually complete set of issues of the West Texas Digest, published since September 1977 by Eddie Richardson and T. J. Patterson. Its goal was, among other things, to inform the world about the African American community of Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding region. The publication went through many titles (such as the Lubbock digest, as the above image shows,) but what any researchers really needs to know is that regardless of title we have nearly 1,600 images of the publication spanning 1977 to 2010.

Manhattan Heights 2

There was another African American newspaper in Lubbock, this one active during the 1960s. The Manhattan Heights Times was created by Scott and Norman Williamson, and it began publication in 1961. The first African American newspaper in town, it briefly ceased its run in 1965. It didn’t take long for it to return with a new title, appearing as The Manhattan Heights and West Texas Times that same year. This iteration of the paper ran until the late 60s.

We can’t overstate how many materials we have on this subject. Fortunately, our Reference Staff can help any interested researcher navigate through them. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout!

Correspondence & the Austin Wiswall Papers

Wiswall Envelope

Correspondence is often one of the most fruitful research materials in a manuscript collection. Communication between the record creator and his or her family, colleagues, and others can provide insight into their lives. It also sheds light onto less personal portions of a collection such as financial materials or legal documents. The SWC’s Austin Wiswall Papers, 1863-1912, recently digitized and made available online, is an example of the potential benefits of correspondence.

Wiswall to mom June 63 pre gettysburg

This correspondence dates from Wiswall’s service in the Army of the Potomac, and describes his activities just prior to marching to Gettysburg later that summer.

Austin Wiswall was born on April 5, 1840, in Princeton, Illinois, to Noah and Elizabeth Lovejoy Wiswall. He was the nephew of the famous abolitionist publisher and martyr Elijah Parish Lovejoy–whose papers the SWC possesses and has also made available digitally–and of U.S. Senator Owen Lovejoy. Wiswall served as a lieutenant in the 9th United States Colored Troops, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, United States Army during the Civil War. Captured by Confederate forces in August 1864, he was held at Andersonville and Libby prisons until released by exchange. After the war, he married Martha Francis Almy on November 15, 1865 with whom he had three children. He served on the Board of Trustees of Morgan Park, Illinois after the Civil War, where he died on September 9, 1905.

Wiswall to mom 8-9-64

This letter describes Austin’s release from Confederate custody and subsequent rejoining of the Army of the Potomac just prior to the end of the war.

The Austin Wiswall Papers consist of correspondence and a diary. The correspondence, often addressed to his mother, primarily concerns personal experiences during and after the Civil War. Of particular interest are letters describing the recruiting, behavior, fighting skills, and movements and activities of the 9th United States Colored Troops participating in the Civil War. When paired with the collected correspondence of his sister, Harriet Wiswall, as well as related collections such as those of Howard Hampton, Austin Wiswall’s correspondence reveals an intensely personal side of mid-19th century life both inside and outside of the U.S.’s most personal war.

Interested researchers can find much of Wiswall’s material, as well as many other digitized collection, here. Our Reference Department is always eager to provide access to our physical holdings as well.