J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
Walter Prescott Webb
Walter Prescott Webb-a teacher of the highest quality, yet no spe-
cific fact that he taught remains intact. As he taught he took ideas and
clothed them with substantiating facts, then sent them soaring into new
realms of thought. Or at least that's what he did for me. He taught me
never to isolate a fact but to use it with a wide-angle lens of ideas to
create a vista.
Most vivid are the memories of a man of medium height in a brown
or tan rumpled suit, even if brand new or just from the cleaners. His
hat was a narrow-brimmed grey Stetson that he had gripped with a
firm hand so that it looked courteously worn. His eyes were pale and
often expressionless unless greeting a student or a friend; then they
smiled and sometimes twinkled.
Dr. Webb wanted students, above all, to learn to think. He was intol-
erant of careless research and vague reference. Always gently spoken
unless displeased, he was very much a part of the Central Texas land
from which he was sprung. He had the gift of humility. He had some-
how scaled the heights of scholarship without damaging his perspective
of himself. Once with a chuckle he said to me, "If ever I get to thinking
too much of myself I go to San Antonio and stand on a downtown
street corner and watch people walk by who have never heard of me
and furthermore don't give a damn, and my ego returns to reality."
Walter Prescott Webb was a wonderful teacher and a fine man. I am
pleased to have had the opportunity to study under his guidance and to
have had my horizons lifted by his challenge.
*Winifred Vigness is the executive secretary of the West Texas Museum Association in
Walter Prescott Webb Remembered
RONALD L. DAVIS*
A few weeks after graduating from the University of Texas, I discov-
ered Walter Prescott Webb's The Great Frontier. It opened up a whole
world for me-the world of ideas, a fresh approach to history, the ex-
*Ronald L. Davis is a professor of history at Southern Methodist University.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed April 21, 2015.