Texas Tech University Archives

Beginning in 2014, the University Archives sponsors a "Women Who Shaped Texas Tech" exhibit as part of Women's History Month, which is celebrated each March. Below are excerpts from the exhibit as well as photos and news clippings featured on the University Archives' Facebook site.

Women's History Month (2016)

The "Women Who Shaped Texas Tech" exhibit was hosted in two buildings for the spring of 2016. The larger exhibit in the Croslin Room of the Library was presented in 6 glass exhibit cases and 11 standing panels, and featured the honorees from the previous two years' exhibits plus numerous artifacts and photographs spanning the university's 91 years. Six women "firsts" were selected for the oversized posters that filled 6 of the large panels.

The exhibit case in the Southwest Collection's Coronelli Globe Rotunda featured this year's diverse selection of female honorees. This year's honorees were Hortense Williams Dixon, Maxine Fry, Edna Maynard Gott, Ann Lynch, and Marsha Sharp.

Edna Maynard Gott received her M.S. degree from Texas Tech in 1954 and began her teaching career as an instructor in Economics here. For more than a decade she battled with the department and university administration for equality in teaching rank, promotion and tenure. In the spring of 1973 she was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor. Nine years later, Gott became the first women to achieve tenure in the Department of Economics.

Hortense Williams Dixon holds the distinction of being the first African American to graduate from Texas Tech with a doctorate degree. She pursued getting a Ph.D. not to be a barrier breaker but because she understood it was a necessity in order to be successful in higher education. Dixon already held a professor position at Texas Southern University and, following her graduation from Texas Tech in 1970, returned to her Associate Professor position in home economics at TSU.

The very outgoing Maxine Fry attended Texas Tech from 1934-1938, along with her equally outgoing sister. She was an active contributor to campus groups and activities and was named a 1938 Sun Bowl Princess. In May of 1937 she became the first elected female president of the Student Council. With the help of classmate Arch Lamb and the Saddle Tramps, Fry was able to successfully reinstate the school’s bonfire tradition.

An Animal Science major, Anne Lynch participated in Texas Tech’s Block and Bridle Club and the Rodeo Club. She had grown up around horses and began riding Happy V, the university's horse mascot, while she working at the Texas Tech Farm. When told that she could not apply to serve as the Masked Rider Lynch refused to back down and applied anyway, despite skepticism leveled at her based on her gender. In 1974 she was selected as the 13th Masked Rider and thus became the first woman to hold the honored position. Her proficiency in this role paved the way for future women to have the opportunity to try out for the Masked Rider.

Marsha Sharp is best known as being the head coach of the Lady Raiders during their 1993 national championship season. However, her true legacy is that she has been an inspirational basketball coach and community leader for more than 35 years. Under her leadership she achieved a high graduation percentage with her athletes, many of whom went on to have successful and high profile careers. In 2004, she established the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes. As of 2016, she is one of only four women to have a campus building named solely after a woman.

Women's History Month (2015)

The exhibit, which was available for viewing in the Coronelli Globe Rotunda Room of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, was a continuation of the Women Who Shaped Texas Tech exhibit from 2014. This year's honorees were groundbreaking, plucky, and ambitious alumni and faculty who have shaped Texas Tech’s history. Honored were Lucille S. Graves, Ophelia Powell-Malone, Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, and Faye LaVerne Bumpass.

Mrs. Lucille S. Graves is recognized as being the first African American student enrolled at Texas Tech. It was her persistent petitioning for entrance that paved the way for other African Americans to attend Texas Tech. In her oral history interview she discussed how, when repeatedly refused entrance into the college on the grounds that its charter specifically stated it was a college for white students, she sought the help of the NAACP. Mrs. Graves, who already held a bachelor’s degree, was invited at the last minute by the college’s president to register for graduate courses in the summer of 1961. Her quiet enrollment led to a peaceful, non-violent integration of the traditionally white college.

Ophelia Powell-Malone holds a place in Texas Tech history as the first African American to graduate with a bachelor's degree. She transferred from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, to attend Texas Tech shortly after the college quietly integrated. A home economics major, Powell-Malone received her degree in 1964 and went on to become a teacher in New Mexico. Later she worked as a dietitian at Langston University and in nursing homes in Lubbock and Houston.

As an educator, Dr. Mary Jeanne van Appledorn taught a wide range of courses at Texas Tech from 1950-2008, including undergraduate music theory and graduate composition courses. She served as chairman of the Division of Music Literature and Theory from 1950-1968 in the School of Music and played an important role in the development of the curriculum of the undergraduate and graduate music degrees. She also founded and served as chairman of the annual Symposium of Contemporary Music at Texas Tech from 1951-1981, and obtained the commission of many new works by renowned composers such as Dr. Howard Hanson (Streams in the Desert, 1969). In 1989, she was named a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor, the highest faculty rank obtainable at Texas Tech University. Before her passing in 2014, Mary Jeanne held the distinction of being one of the longest serving faculty members at Texas Tech and her papers reside in the University Archives.

Additionally, for the month of March, the University Archives' Facebook page is exhibiting new images each weekday. Some of these images include:

Left: Pictured are two important women in Texas Tech history. Native Lubbockite Diane Parson was the first African American woman to receive an athletic scholarship. Diane was an acomplished runner and, as you may know, Texas Tech has a long history of exceptional track athletes. In this 1976 University Daily article Diane is pictured with Jeannine McHaney. Jeannine helped establish the women's athletics program at Texas Tech, was the first Women's Athletics Department Director, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Honor.

Right: Additionally, Cheryl Greer, in 1976, became the first women in Tech history to receive an athletic scholarship. Susie Lynch, also pictured, was the first coach of the official women's basketball team.

In the February 15-22, 1979 issue of El Editor, Anita Carmona Harrison was recognized as the first native Chicana Lubbockite to graduate from Texas Tech. She was also cited as the first Mexican to go through the entire Lubbock School system and graduate from Texas Tech. Anita received her B.S. in Elementary Education from Texas Tech in 1967 and completed some graduate work here as well. In 1969, she, along with colleagues Maria Salas, Lorene Munoz, and Maria De Leon, taught Bilingual Kindergarten and developed Lubbock ISD’s first Curriculum Guide for Bilingual Kindergarten. Anita retired from LISD in 1999, after almost 30 years of teaching.

Laura Song, a native from Korea, was the first asian student to graduate from Texas Tech. She received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Home Economics on June 5, 1933. In this photo from her senior year, Laura is wearing her native Korean dress and is standing at the door of the Home Management House. She lived in the house for several weeks to complete her degree requirements. The house is now called The Cottage and it was beautifully restored in 2014.

Women's History Month (2014)

In 2014, the "Women Who Shaped Texas Tech" exhibit was created to promote women's history at Texas Tech and to highlight the wide variety of contributions women have made to the university and surrounding communities. The honorees were Margaret Watson Weeks, Mary Woodward Doak, and Elizabeth Howard West.

The foundations of early women’s history at Texas Tech lie largely with the School of Home Economics. Its building was one of the nine original campus structures and housed parts of the School of Agriculture, the bookstore, the college physician, and the Geology Department when it opened.

Margaret Watson WeeksThe original faculty of Home Economics was made up of three women, of whom one, Margaret Watson Weeks, would emerge as one of three important figures in the history of women at Texas Tech. As the Dean of the School of Home Economics for over twenty-five years, Weeks shaped the School’s programs, courses, and the cultural and social activities for women on campus as well as in the city of Lubbock, whose inhabitants participated in many of the early town and gown events. She also served as the first president of the Faculty Club and worked with the Quarterly Club, the faculty women’s organization, to establish Casa Linda, a cooperative residence for women on the Tech campus. When the Home Economics Club was formed that first semester, one of its priorities was to establish the loan program named after Weeks for its students in need of financial support.

Mary Woodward DoakThe second important female figure in Texas Tech history was Mary Woodward Doak, who would serve as both the Dean of Women and a professor in the English Department from 1925-1945. In 1928, her enthusiasm for a recent visit to the British Museum caused her to vocalize the need for a museum at the college and she enlisted the support of other faculty members, most notably John C. Granberry, whose contact with professor William Curry Holden led to the establishment of the Museum of Texas Tech in 1929. The first women’s dormitory would later be renamed Doak Hall to honor her for all her contributions to the college.

Elizabeth Howard WestThe third woman important in women’s history at Tech was Elizabeth Howard West, a spunky and driven librarian whose notable career included working at the Library of Congress and serving as the Texas State Library archivist from 1911-1915. Her election to State Librarian in 1918 made her the first woman department head in the Texas state government. The limited space and resources allotted to Tech’s first library in 1925 was a huge challenge for West to overcome. Faculty members loaned their own books to students to help cover the shortage of available research material. Ruth Horn Andrews, daughter of the first Tech president and a Tech graduate, described the library as a “ … repository for everything else that expressmen and janitors did not know what to do with… when some sort of order was resolved from the chaos, and a few books began to accumulate, there was not space for them… students taking notes from reference books sometimes had to stand." (1) West herself helped ring the campus Victory Bells when funding for a freestanding library building was passed in 1937.

Though the diligence and dedication of these three early female faculty members Texas Tech became and remains an institution dedicated to providing an excellent education for women.

~B. Lynn Whitfield, University Archivist

(1) Rushing, Jane Gilmore and Kline A. Nall. Evolution of a University. Madrona Press, Inc.: Austin, 1975.

Tech Tips were handbooks for male & female students that described Housing & Dining policies and fees, and the various student organizations on campus. Originally published only for women it was later thought that perhaps the men could use some guidance as well.

Tech alumni that attended before the mid-1970s will recall wearing special beanies nicknamed Fish Caps. It was a rite of passing to go down to Hemphill-Wells to buy one's cap and then decorate it. The University Achives has 3 of these caps, each of different decades, in our holdings.




Longer biographies on the women pictured above as well as other aspects of Texas Tech women's history can be found at the link listed below.


Back to the University Archives Texas Tech Women's History Page

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