Texas Tech University – History in Pictures

Laying of the Administration Building cornerstone, 1924-1

It’s that time of year again at Texas Tech University when students old and new make their pilgrimage back to campus. Because TTU is approaching its hundredth year (in 2025! So close!), we thought we’d share a few photographs from its early decades. The photo above, for example, is a shot of the laying of the cornerstone for Tech’s Administration Building in 1924.

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This photo is not just a house on the Texas Technological College campus. You see, it was supposed to serve as the home of then-Texas Technological College (TTC) president, Paul W. Horn. But he rejected it, then removed it from campus to make way for a residence he found more suitable. The structure was removed to what is now 1611 Avenue Y where it stood until 2018, when it burned down.

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Texas Technological College initially focused heavily on agriculture education. Some of its student body raised livestock (typically dairy cows) on campus to pay their way through school. And some of their beasts spent time in the Agriculture Livestock Pavilion–otherwise known as the Aggie Pavilion–seen above shortly after its opening in 1925. It now rests not a half-dozen yards from the Southwest Collection itself!

Texas Tech basketball players 1927 composite

But you know what else went on in the Ag Pavilion? Basketball! There were no other facilities in which to play the game, so the 1927 basketball squad (seen here in a composite photo made for the La Ventana yearbook) had to handle their business Pavilion-style. Their first game, in 1926, ended in an 18-9 victory over West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University, just up Interstate 27 in Canyon).

Cattle grazing near the Dairy Barn and Silo 2

This bucolic scene dates from 1925, with cattle grazing in a fenced pen near the Dairy Barn and Silo. Also featured: the Administration Building, the Agricultural Pavilion, the Agriculture Building, and in the far distance the Home Economics Building.

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In the spirit of the upcoming football season, we also dug out this photo of the University’s first football team in 1926. Then known as the “Matadors,” they had played their first game the previous year against McMurry College at the South Plains Fairgrounds in Lubbock. Final score? 0-0.

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The Red Raiders only had to play across town for one season and one game before a small field and bleachers were built on campus. Then, in 1947, the Clifford B. and Audry Jones stadium was completed. Its first bleachers are seen in this photo. The stadium could seat 16,500 students, although it boasted that it could do a full 20,000 if portable bleachers where wheeled in.

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The Jones wasn’t the only sports facility on campus in the 40s. Above you can see the TTC gymnasium and field house circa 1945. There was clearly something going on inside when this photo was taken, because these taxi drivers weren’t waiting around for nothing.

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This aerial shot of the campus was taken in 1950. The photographer was looking northeast across Memorial Circle, with the Administration Building to the right and what was soon to be the West Texas Museum (and is now Holden Hall) on the center-left. It’s fair to say that things have changed just a little bit.

Presentation of honorary Texas Tech degrees to President

Our final photograph shows TTU President Grover Murray conferring honorary degrees upon President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Congressman George Mahon, who represented the region in Congress for over forty years, is standing behind President Johnson.

These images are but the smallest sample of the treasure trove of Texas Tech history in our holdings. Need more? Then look no further than our University Archives digital collections or our other photograph collections!

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Texas Tech University Football Firsts

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During football season last year we told you that the SWC archives hold the entirety of the old Southwest Conference’s records, as well as a large portion of Big 8, Big 12, and NCAA archival material. But the Southwest Collection is located at Texas Tech University, so it’s high time that we focused on Red Raider football, a story that began almost 90 years ago. McMurray1925 ttu first game

This is the cover of the program for the first football game played by the newly-opened Texas Technological College (you can see the whole program here courtesy of our University Archives!) It was a heated contest held on the afternoon of October 3rd, 1925, at Lubbock’s South Plains Fair. The McMurray [sic] College Indians traveled north from Abilene to face off against the Matadors, and the game resulted in a 0-0 tie. An inauspicious beginning, perhaps, but things would soon turn around.

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Although Texas Tech’s first bowl game was against West Virginia in 1937’s Sun Bowl (a 7-6 loss,) perhaps their most historically significant bowl appearance came after the 1953 season. As you can see from the cover of the 104-page program above (the entirety of which you can see here,) the Red Raiders squared off against the University of Auburn Tigers in the 9th annual Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. Although the 17th-ranked Tigers led early, the Red Raiders surged back in the second half to win the game 35-13, handing Auburn one of its more lopsided bowl losses. Not surprising, perhaps, considering Tech’s 10-1 regular season record, but a closer look at the box score reveals that Texas Tech did the bulk of its work in 7 minutes, racking up 28 points in that short amount of time under the lead of now-legendary halfback Bobby Cavazos. He scored 3 times and also stopped an interception return that would have likely resulted in a defensive touchdown. Bobby and his fellow 1953 stars can be seen in the image below, taken from that same game program.

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“But this article is entitled Texas Tech Football Firsts!” you might be pointing out to us right now. And we appreciate the reminder, because while the 1954 Gator Bowl was one of Tech’s biggest wins up to that point, it was even more notable for two historic moments in Texas Tech Red Raider football history. First off, this was Tech’s first televised football game. In the 60 years since then, the Red Raiders have had their share of television coverage, but it all started with this game. But here’s what really matters to fans: this was the first official appearance of the Masked Rider! The Rider had shown up from time to time since 1936, but the Gator Bowl was the first time it galloped onto the field as Tech’s new official mascot. Thousands of spectators shared a moment of amazed silence before erupting into cheers. According to Atlanta Journal’s sportswriter Ed Danforth, who was also a press box spectator, “No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance.”

masked rider saddle

In 2004, the saddle above was given to then-Chancellor Kent Hance to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Masked Rider. Generously donated to the SWC in 2014 along with many of Kent Hance’s papers, it is one among many unique Red Raider artifacts that we preserve. If you’re curious about those, our other Texas Tech collections, or the many, many sports-related archives we keep around, hurry up and contact our Reference Department and they’ll see about getting you a look at those!

Texas Tech University: Then and Now

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(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.

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(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.

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(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

Football Season Part 2: The Southwest Collection’s Big 12 and NCAA Records

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These figurines are actually whiskey bottles molded into the likeness of mascots of former SWC schools that are now members of the Big 12 Conference. From left to right: the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, and Baylor University

A couple weeks back we told you about our Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) Records; over 300 boxes of material documenting that organization’s more than 80 year existence. After the SWC disbanded in 1996, many of its schools moved on to other conferences, the largest of which was the newly-created Big 12 Conference. The Southwest Collection is also proud to make its records available to our patrons. These two collections dovetail with our National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Records, which date from the 1930s until the late 1990s, to provide a thorough picture of collegiate athletics in Texas and its neighboring states for nearly 100 years.

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This set containing a commemorative pitcher and glasses were crafted shortly before the demise of the SWC in 1996.

Why did the SWC disband? Most would agree that money was a leading factor. A new conference such as the Big 12 would give the new members more media coverage and therefore more revenue for their individual schools. Another theory claims that politicians had a role in its breakup by pressuring schools, other politicians, and university representatives to consider a new outlook for collegiate sports in Texas and neighboring states. Either way, four SWC schools, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Baylor University, united with the Big Eight Conference to create the Big 12. The legacy of the Southwest Athletic Conference remained tangible in the many rivalries that persist to this day in the Big 12 in all sports.

The collections of records reflect this in numerous ways. For example, some material pertains to the annual October football match-up during the Texas State Fair between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The Big 12’s records include a large number of member universities’ media guides, as well as Conference-wide media guides.  The media guides cover baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball. The Big 12 continues to deposit media guides and other publications with the Southwest Collection. Office files and printed materials promoting the Big 12, such as handbooks and directories, are also present.

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This is a whiskey bottle cast in the likeness Raider Red, one of the mascots of Texas Tech University, the home of the Southwest Collection. In 1958 Texas Tech University was the second to last school to join the Southwest Conference, but was a founding member of the Big 12 in 1996.

The NCAA itself, of which the Southwest Conference was a member and to which the Big 12 still belongs, needs little introduction. It monitors athletic programs from virtually all   collegiate athletic programs. Among other things, they assess schools’ compliance with academic regulations; student and media relations; and recruiting, sports, officiating, and championship regulations. Our collection of their records consists of a variety of material. Manuals, convention programs and artifacts, annual reports, yearbooks, directories, periodicals, and committee handbooks are the most common items. Perhaps most interesting are the historic and descriptive documents, studies, surveys, and analyses that relate to the NCAA’s oversight of recruiting, compliance, student athletes, faculty members, and media relations. Finally, there are a number items to championships in all sports, as well more general documentation related to baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

As with all of our collections, our Reference Department  would like nothing more than to arrange for researchers to peruse these records. Don’t hesitate to contact them!

– Robert Weaver

– Photos by John Perrin

It’s Football Season: Time to Read about the Southwest Athletic Conference Records!

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These figurines are actually whiskey bottles molded to resemble the mascots of former Southwest Athletic Conference schools. From left to right: back row: the University of Texas Longhorns, Southern Methodist University Mustangs, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Center row: Rice University Owls, University of Arkansas Razorbacks, and Baylor University Bears. Front row: University of Houston Cougars and Texas Tech University Red Raiders.>

NCAA universities throughout the U.S. are now deep into 2013’s football season. The Southwest Collection has close ties with this yearly phenomenon, as well as all other NCAA sports, by virtue of being the archive of record for the now-disbanded Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC). Former SWC teams now populate the Big 12 Conference, Southeastern Conference, and others.

On May 6, 1914, several universities’ representatives met to discuss the future of regional sports among local schools. Baylor University, Southwestern University, Texas A&M College, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), Louisiana State University, the University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas participated. That December, representatives from the Rice Institute (now Rice University) and the University of Oklahoma also met with the group at the Rice Hotel in Houston. With the exception of Louisiana State, all participants became charter members of the Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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The Southwest Conference Records contains programs and pre-season guides for all sports. Most numerous are football Roster & Record books like these.

The SWC saw ten universities join or leave their league during its over 80 year run. Rice left for a short spell from 1916-1917. Southern Methodist University joined in 1918, Texas Christian University hopped on in 1923, Texas Tech University joined in 1958, and the University of Houston signed up in 1972. Southwestern left in 1917, Oklahoma dropped out in 1920, Oklahoma A&M departed in 1926, and the University of Arkansas left in 1991. For one year, 1920, Phillips University of Enid, Oklahoma, was a member of the conference.

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Southwest Conference football teams have appeared in numerous bowls, most frequently the Cotton Bowl. Above are commemorative artifacts from some of those games, most notably a clock celebrating 1988 Cotton Bowl between Texas A&M and Notre Dame.>

It was not until 1938 that the SWC would elect an Executive Secretary (later renamed Commissioner in 1982.) Dr. P. W. St. Clair served from 1938-1945 as a part-time employee. Others who served were the following: James H. Stewart (1945-1950), Howard Grubbs (1950-1973), Cliff Speegle (1973-1982), Fred Jacoby (1982-1993), Steve Hatchell (1993-1995), and finally Kyle Kallander (1995-1996).

The Southwest Conference also spawned such sports legends as Carl Lewis (track), Doak Walker (football), Sheryl Swoopes (women’s basketball), Darrell Royal (football, coach), Teddy Lyons (baseball), Earl Campbell (football), and Andre Ware (football) to name only a few.

So what SWC records does the Southwest Collection have? Over 300 linear feet of material! There are boxes full of day-to-day business records such correspondence, memoranda, financial materials, and memorabilia. Among its copious printed material are media guides, game programs, news clippings, and record books from each of the member universities. But that’s not all: included are 343 sound recordings, 854 video tapes, 10 reels of microfilm, 538 oversized items, and 12 linear feet of photographic material. Oral histories of numerous individuals involved with the Conference are also available.

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This is the memo sent to all Southwest Athletic Conference university presidents regarding the dissolution of the Conference 1996.

Sadly, on June 30, 1996, the Southwest Athletic Conference disbanded. Its teams departed for other conferences such as the Big 12…the records of which the Southwest Collection also houses!

But that’s a story for a future blog…

By Robert Weaver
Photos by John Perrin