Heritage, 2011, Volume 3 Page: 33
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The link between women and
Texas history is as old as the place
itself: a woman, Mary Austin Hol-
ley, published the first known his-
tory of Texas in 1836. In the late
19th and early 20th centuries,
Julia Lee Sinks, Adele Looscan,
Adina De Zavala, and Anna Pen-
nybacker collected documents and
artifacts, wrote articles and books,
and fostered historic preservation.
Pennybacker's A New History of
Texas (1888) remained a standard
text for 40 years.
During the Progressive Era, women who loved history in-
creasingly earned college degrees in the subject and became
librarians and history teachers. Elizabeth West, the state li-
brarian in 1918, collected ranch records and James Bowie's
papers in the 1920s. Educator Florence Scott published a
history of the Rio Grande Valley in 1937. In the 1930s and
1940s, Julia Garrett, a teacher with a Ph.D., published two
histories of the state and another about Fort Worth.
The best known of these historian-teacher-librarians
were Llerena Friend and Nettie Lee Benson, who earned
doctorate degrees from the University of Texas and di-
rected its two most significant archives in the mid-20th
century: The Barker Texas History Center (Friend) and
The Latin American Collection (Benson). Friend wrote a
biography of Sam Houston and edited several other books.
Benson's publications focused on Latin American history
and Texas-Mexico relations.
One of the earliest women in Texas to have an academic
career that included Texas history was Amelia Williams,
who earned a Ph.D. from UT in 1931 and spent almost 30
years teaching there. With Eugene C. Barker as a mentor,
Williams published studies of the Alamo and Sam Hous-
ton in the 1930s and 1940s.
From those early times through today, the research of
women in Texas studies have been varied. Their works have
focused on county, city, and "roadside" histories (Laurie Ja-
sinski, Kelly McMichael, Cynthia Beeman); ethnicity and
race (Sylvia Grider, Dianna Everett, Natalie Ornish, Mer-
line Pitre, Nancy Hickerson); civil rights (Yvonne Frear);
the military (J'Nell Pate, Anne Bailey); oil and gas (Diana
Olien Hinton); government and politics (Janice May, Nan-
cy Beck Young); visual arts (Francine Carraro); newspapers
(Marilyn Sibley); Texas historians (Laura McLemore); and
biographies of early leaders (Mary Clarke, Louise Horton,
Ann Fears Crawford, Margaret Swett Henson).
Early glimmers of interest in the history of Texas women
emerged with Elizabeth Brooks' Prominent Women of Texas
(1896) and Annie Doom Pickrell's Pioneer Women of Texas
(1929), two laudatory group biographies. Academic atten-
tion to Texas women's history grew slowly. In 1936, Texas
Woman's University created the Woman's Collection, the
Volume 3 2011 I TEXASHERITAGE 33
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 3, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254222/m1/33/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.