The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech University

fish cap

March is Women’s History Month, and so we’re sharing with you selections from the Texas Tech University Archive’s exhibit, The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech. Our University Archives, whose staff works beside us here at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, serves as the institutional memory for Texas Tech University (TTU). Their collections range from administrative and faculty records, to publications, photographs, and video and audio materials.  The legal, fiscal, administrative, intellectual, and cultural and social aspects of student life are all documented. No small part of these materials concern women’s history at Texas Tech, and that’s where this exhibit, which will be displayed for the forseeable future in the SWC’s Formby Room, comes in.

Student life lies at the heart of women’s history at TTU, although not all of it revolved solely around academics. Just look at the photograph above from 1957. It depicts three freshmen students posing with their “Fish Caps.”  Part of the freshmen tradition was the purchasing and wearing of the “Fish” or “Slime” cap. The caps, or beanies, bore the student’s last name preceded by the word “Slime” along with their year of expected graduation, their room number, and their residence hall. Sometimes a fraternity or sorority name was added.

West BEST

Administrators were also key figures in the history of women at Tech. Elizabeth Howard West, the First Head Librarian of the University from 1925 to 1942, was a great champion of establishing and maintaining strong libraries and archives in the state of Texas. Her road to Tech was an impressive one. She began her library career as a cataloger at the Texas State Library in 1906. West also worked as an assistant at the Library of Congress, and went on to serve as the Texas State Library archivist (1911-1915), the director of the San Antonio Library (1915-1918), and finally was elected State Librarian in 1918, making her the first woman department head in the Texas state government. Once at Tech, she diligently pursued the construction of a separate library building in order to properly provide for researchers’ needs. As a result, the first free standing library building on the Texas Tech campus, named after Governor James V. Allread, was completed in 1938. West didn’t stop her advocacy at libraries. She also founded the Lubbock chapter of the American Association of University Women.

Doaks BEST

Those familiar with Tech’s campus may have run across Doak Hall. Built in 1934 under its original name, Women’s Dormitory No. 1, it was later renamed to honor Mary Woodward Doak. She was the first Dean of Women at Tech, and among her many contributions outside of student residential life was a presentation to colleagues after a trip to the British Museum in 1928 that spawned the idea of establishing a museum at Texas Tech, an institution that still thrives to this day.

Weeks BEST

This is a picture of Margaret Watson Weeks, the first Dean of the School of Home Economics. She helped organize TTU’s Home Economics Club in 1925, established the Home Economics Loan Fund, and helped form the Double Key Honor Society in 1930 as well as the first Texas chapter of the Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society in 1938. Weeks successfully orchestrated the construction of the Home Economics Building addition in 1952, and was one of the organizers of the Women’s Recognition Service ceremony which ran from 1932-1947. Like Doak, one of the dormitories was named in her honor in 1957.

Techtips3

Let’s end with something a bit wackier: Tech Tips, a publication of the Association of Women Students designed to acquaint female students with TTU activities and traditions. Here are a few of the pearls of wisdom contained its “Watch your Ps and Qs” section:

  • Never break a date with one man for another. Once you’ve picked him, you’re stuck with him.
  • If you get a lemon of a date, be a peach about it.
  • When they ask you to go coking, don’t order a double fudge sundae with nuts.

Advice not exactly modeled after the philosophies of second-wave feminism, but still amusing. All issues of Tech Tips from 1942-1975 have been digitized and placed online, along with a host of other University Archives materials. The University Archives’ tumblr  shares entertaining examples from their collections as well. And, as always, those who’d like to see more can always contact our helpful Reference Staff to arrange a visit.

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.

Untitled

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!

Texas Tech University: Then and Now

Will rogers combo pack

(SWC HC-E168) (Texas Tech University)

This Wednesday, January 15th, Texas Tech University (TTU) will be opening its doors for the first class day of the 2014 Spring semester. The Texas Tech University Archives (UA) here at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is full of items commemorating such events as well as other TTU occasions. Photographs comprise a large portion of their materials; so many, in fact, that UA staff were able to curate an exhibit entitled Texas Tech: Then and Now, which is now on display in the SWC’s Formby Room. Many of its sports-related photographs for this exhibit can also be seen near the main entrance of the United Spirit Arena.

The image above are included in the exhibit. To the left we see former President Dossie Wiggins accepting TTU’s iconic Will Rogers statue in 1950. A gift from the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the statue (actually entitled Riding into the Sunset) is often wrapped in red for sporting events such as the TTU football homecoming game.

admin view combo pack

(SWC HC-C2502) (Texas Tech University)

In 1924, the Texas Technological College (the  name was changed to Texas Tech University in 1969) Administration Building (left) was a lonely sight on the South Plains prairie. That is not the case any longer. As you can see from the photograph on the right (taken from the English and Philosophy building located almost a half-mile southwest of Administration), the campus has expanded into dozens of buildings amounting to the second largest contiguous university campus (1,843 acres) in the United States. The almost uniform use of Spanish Renaissance architecture is one of its highlights.

football combo pack

(SWC HC E355) (Texas Tech University)

What would modern university life be like without sports? Definitely less entertaining for many students on Saturdays during the fall. TTU’s football team is now known as the Red Raiders, but from 1925 to 1936 they were known as the Matadors. The photograph on the left shows the first Matador touchdown in 1925, scored against Montezuma College. The field of play has changed a little bit since then, as the photo of the 60,000-spectator-capacity AT&T stadium shows.

8A-First Faculty Meeting 1925 B&W

(SWC HC-P343)

Photos and documentation about buildings and statues aren’t the only thing the University Archives preserves. Faculty records are important as, as the participants in the first-ever faculty meeting at TTU, pictured above, would no doubt have agreed. They met for the first time on September 15, 1925, to discuss the purposes of the college and make plans for the upcoming year. Although in 1925 TTU clearly wasn’t swarming with faculty members, it currently boasts over 1,100.

14B-Old Computer Lab (U185.6) B&W

(HC- U185.6 Box#2 F11)

Computers factor heavily into the academic life of today’s university. The TTU Library alone currently owns and maintains more than 200 computers for student, faculty, and public use. The university has for decades striven for similar accessibility. Want proof? Check out this photo of students several decades ago enjoying then-state-of-the-art computing technology.

24A-Ransom Walker and Basketball Team

(La Ventana 1926)

Let’s end with a little bit more about sports. This is a photo of Texas Technological College’s men’s basketball team in 1926. At that time, games were played in the Agricultural Pavilion because the campus did not yet have a gym. Ransom Walker, the first captain of both the basketball team and the football team, is seated at center holding the ball. Walker was also the first Matador to play in a post-season all-star football game (the 1929 East-West Shrine Game) and as a running back was the team’s top offensive player in 1927 and 1928.

The Texas Tech Then & Now exhibit will be on display indefinitely at the SWC, and the images in the United Spirit Arena will be up at least through the spring semester. Both are open for free to all interested visitors. Our University Archives has many other items, all of which our Reference Staff are always thrilled to help you find.

–  by Amy Mire, Lynn Whitfield, & Robert Weaver