Heritage, 2011, Volume 3 Page: 16
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Richardson served as president of Hardin-Simmons Uni-
versity for a decade and was a founding member of the
West Texas Historical Association and the Texas Historical
Commission. As a researcher and writer, he remains a lead-
ing 20th-century Texas scholar and historian. Former THC
commissioner and preservation activist Shirley Caldwell, of
Albany, who worked with Richardson in the 1960s, puts it
simply: "In my opinion, Dr. Richardson was and is the fin-
est historian to come out of West Texas. His works are still
highly respected and used as resources today."
Born in 1891, Richardson was the youngest child of Wil-
lis Baker and Nannie (Coon) Richardson. His parents trav-
eled by covered wagon from Nacogdoches, in East Texas,
to Stephens County in the west-central area of the state in
1879. They homesteaded, cut logs for their dwelling, and
then made the 200-mile round trip to Fort Worth for floor-
Dr. Richardson openly shared his love of
Texas history both inside and outside of the
classroom. All photographs are courtesy of
The Rupert N. Richardson Library, Abilene,
unless otherwise noted.
ing, shingles, and windows. Eventually, six children, along
with their parents, filled the rooms of the pioneer-style log
Richardson's parents valued education and instilled
in him an early interest in learning. His father practiced
scientific farming and ranching by researching the latest
techniques and approaches in books and bulletins obtained
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because of their
home's location near a government mail route, the Rich-
ardsons enjoyed periodicals and newspapers unavailable to
other families in remote areas. Richardson's mother was a
teacher, and the family maintained a home library consist-
ing of classic works, as well as those by popular 19th-cen-
tury writers. All of the Richardson children learned to read
before they entered school.
Because of the example set by his parents, Richardson
was taught the value of hard work
and how to deal with adversity.
Richardson often spoke with admi-
ration of his mother, who lost her
right hand in a milling accident at
age ten, stating, "She could do just
about anything that anybody else
did and do it quite as well or better."
The historian wrote of his father,
"Integrity and reverence were quali-
ties that he emphasized by precept
and example. His sense of justice
and loyalty to the truth were mag-
As a child, Richardson spo-
radically attended one-room rural
schools in. Stephens County. In
1907, at age 16, he enrolled in Sim-
mons College in Abilene. Given the
gaps in his early education, the brd-
ding scholar undertook two year of
preparatory work at the college be-
fore beginning coursework for his
four-year degree. During his time
at Simmons, Richardson met his
future wife, a fellow student named
After graduating with a bachelor
of arts in 1912, Richardson taught
school to earn money to continue
his education. In a short time, he
became principal of a school near
his Stephens County home. After
further study, he earned a second
degree, a bachelor of science in
philosophy, from The University
of Chicago. As a young man with
16 TEXASHERITAGE I Volume 3 2011
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 3, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254222/m1/16/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.