Category Archives: New finding aids
TCU Special Collections is pleased to announce that the Ruth Millett Papers are open for research. Ruth Linwood Millett was born February 10, 1912 to Ralph and Alice Millett in Dallas, Texas. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Ralph Millett, was a columnist and editor of the Memphis Press-Scimitar. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Millett became dean of women at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in Maryville. She eventually moved to New York City to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in journalism. Millett soon began writing two syndicated columns, Mind Your Manners and Ruth Millett Says . . . (later titled We the Women), for the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). She married Dr. Frederick Lowry and became a mother of twins. The family moved around the Midwest a bit before settling in Austin, Texas. Millett continued writing her columns until her retirement in 1967. During her 30 year career, she received thousands of letters from readers and was named one of the U.S.’s top ten most powerful women by Pageant magazine in 1953. She was also honored by the New York Newspaper Women’s Club, Theta Sigma Phi, a fraternity for women writers, and named the Austin American Statesman Career Woman of 1963. Ruth died April 16, 1997 in Austin.
The Ruth Millett Papers include professional and personal correspondence, photographs, printed material, speeches, writings, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and newspaper “slicks,” glossy pages printed with a week’s worth of Millett’s columns and distributed to newspapers by NEA for reproduction. Her column We the Women addressed women’s issues of the mid-20th century, from education and career, to homemaking, etiquette, personal relationships, and popular culture. Of note are Millett’s columns addressing the changes in women’s lives brought about by the Great Depression, World War II, and cultural movements of the 1950s and 1960s. She was a strong advocate for women taking a larger role in society, and spoke out against the unequal treatment women often faced in the workplace. However, Millett also held women’s traditional roles as wives and mothers in high regard and urged them to take a strong role in leading their households. Millett wrote several booklets which offered advice for wives, husbands, and teenagers. She focused specifically on maintaining healthy relationships, family bonding time, and well-kept homes. This collection offers unique insight into the lives of middle class American women in the 20th century and how they coped with changing roles, expectations, and perceptions.
The collection is available for research in the Special Collections Department of the Mary Couts Burnett Library Monday through Friday from 8-5.
The records of the Bryson Club are now available in TCU Special Collections. The English department formed the Bryson Club in 1923 in memory of Walter Buxton Bryson, who chaired the department from 1917 until his death in 1922. Professors Mabel Major and Rebecca Smith Lee became the club’s first faculty advisors. In 1933, Lorraine Sherley took over as advisor, guiding the club for over 50 years until her death in 1984. In 1981, Ernest Allen became co-advisor, and donated the club’s records to TCU prior to his death in 2007. The club invited juniors and seniors with a 3.0 G.P.A or higher to join, and hosted bi-monthly meetings in which students submitted and read manuscripts, plays, poems, essays, or short stories. Beginning in 1935, the club extended invitations to upperclassmen other than English majors. In 1938, the club established a scholarship fund to assist qualified members.
The club crest was the Bryson Buxton shield. It bore a Horned Frog and three stars signifying social and physical health, scholarship, and leadership. The club colors were white, blue, and gold. The club’s motto was “Do it with thy might.”
The records include documentation on club membership, meetings, finances, and the organizational constitution. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, artifacts, guest books and photographs of meetings, initiations, and parties are also in the collection.
The club still exists today as the Bryson Literary Society.
A native of Iowa Park, Texas, Ernest Ligon and his family travelled between the Texas-Oklahoma border to construct towns. He lived in Byers, Texas when he enrolled at Texas Christian University. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1921. Ligon earned extra credits for serving in the Air Corps during World War I. He participated in school clubs, functions, and sporting events while attending TCU. Professor Errett Weir McDiarmid and Dr. Edward McShane Waits, president of TCU in 1916-1941, influenced Ligon as a young man. He developed a paper in Prof. McDiarmid’s class that would be the foundation of his first book. TCU conferred him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1948. Even after not visiting the campus for years, Ligon supported TCU monetarily and contributed to the Meyer Fund Donation in 1961.
After earning a Bachelor of Divinity degree and a doctorate in psychology from Yale University, Ligon taught at different universities before settling at Union College in Schenectady, New York. For 33 years, he taught psychology courses and conducted peer-reviewed studies. Psychologists recognized Ligon for his 42 years as co-director and volunteer consultant for the CRP. The project explored the philosophy of Jesus Christ as outlined in the Bible to evaluate character development. Ligon’s The Psychology of Christian Personality set the guidelines and principles for the CRP. According to the monograph, Jesus Christ’s teachings, as stated in the Beatitudes, provide a guide to develop a healthy lifestyle.
The CRP conducted decades of workshops for families and churches to help Christian parents rear their children into wholesome and morally sound individuals. The CRP designed pamphlets such as “Let me Introduce Myself” to instill a Christian character in infants and young adults. With the support of the Eli Lilly Company, Ligon published his findings not only through his six books but also in esteemed journals of psychology and religion. The papers in Special Collections contain Ligon’s personal correspondence with Eli Lilly. The Mary Couts Burnett Library houses all of Ligon’s works.
In 1962, Ligon retired from Union College. He continued to volunteer his time to the CRP and the Sigma XI American Psychological Association. He and his wife, Lois Wood, supported the Rotary Club and YMCA. Ligon passed away at the age of 87 in 1984. He bequeathed his papers to TCU’s Special Collections and a significant monetary donation to the Mary Couts Burnett Library upon his death.
Entry by Miriam E. Villanueva
The personal papers of two women poets are available for research in Special Collections: the Violette Newton Papers and the Ramona Maher Weeks Papers. These collections trace the lives and literary careers of these women and their love for poetry.
Born in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1912, Violette Newton moved to Port Arthur as a child. She loved poetry, storytelling, and writing from a young age. She married Wilben Long Newton soon after graduating from Lamar University in Beaumont. The Newtons raised their children in a home environment full of art, literature, and music. As her children got older, Violette spent more time writing poetry and began submitting her verses for publication. She went on to publish her first book, Moses in Texas, in 1967, at the age of 55. She would go on to publish 20 more volumes of poetry and receive numerous awards for her writing. In 1973, Governor Dolph Briscoe named Newton the Poet Laureate of Texas. She mentored young writers and poets, and advocated for poetry across the state. Violette died in 2013 at the age of 100. She donated some of her papers to TCU in 1999 and 2000, including scrapbooks, manuscripts, correspondence with notable Texas writers and publisher, and personal reminiscences of her career.
A 1953 graduate of TCU, Ramona Maher Weeks wrote young adult novels in the genres of historical fiction and mystery. She co-founded The Baleen Press with her friend Joy Harvey and published the poetry journal Inscape. Weeks herself was a prolific and widely published poet. Her books include Lincoln County Poems, About Armadillos and Others, and Alice Yazzie’s Year. She donated her papers to TCU in 1967, 1985, and her son donated the remainder in 2013. The papers include manuscripts and drafts of her books, poetry, and other writings, correspondence with family, friends, and fellow writers, photographs, and memorabilia from her days as a student at TCU. Weeks also worked as an editor at the University of New Mexico Press, the University of Washington Press, and for the Arizona Education Association. She died in 1996.
These collections compliment the Mabel Kuykendall Papers, also recently added to Special Collections. These collections give insight into the work of these three gifted and honored poets. We are glad they have a home at TCU.