The Research Center for the Southwest is located on the 2nd floor of the Richardson Library on the campus of Hardin-Simmons University.

Mary Burke, Special Collections Manager 325.670.1807

Founded in 1975 as a regional depository for Southwest materials, and as a, “prestigious center of history, books, archives, records, and art relating to the history of the entire Southwest,” the Research Center contains a plethora of historic materials accessible to the public. In addition to artifacts, books, papers, and memorabilia related to Abilene, Texas, and the Southwest, the Center is the home to all documents, objects, and records concerning the founding, history, development, and operations of Hardin-Simmons University. If you would like to make a contribution or donate materials, contact the Dean of University Libraries, Elizabeth Worley.

Originally established as a cooperative effort of Abilene’s three universities and housed on the Hardin-Simmons campus, the Research Center for the Southwest opened in 1976 as part of Abilene’s national bicentennial celebration. It is, as well, a lasting tribute to eminent Southwest historian, scholar, educator, and university administrator, Rupert N. Richardson.

Abilene dentist Dr. John Estes, Sr.—an ardent admirer and former student of Richardson—promoted the project in its early stages and was described as “the genesis of [the] movement” to establish the Center. Estes also served as an officer on the executive committee which organized and founded the Center.

Chaired by Clifton Caldwell, the executive committee promoted the Center’s establishment and solicited funds to perpetuate its growth. Committee officers were Caldwell, chairman; Dr. Estes and John Ben Sheppard of Odessa, vice chairmen; and Maurice Brooks, secretary. Members included presidents of Abilene’s three higher education institutions, Dr. Elwin L. Skiles of Hardin-Simmons University, Dr. John Stevens of Abilene Christian College, and Dr. Thomas Kim of McMurry College. Other committee members were Katharyn Duff, Richard Dillard, and Bob Kennedy, all of Abilene; Dr. Kenneth Yielding, Odessa; F. Lee Lawrence, Tyler; Ronald Thomason, Weatherford; Mrs. Bob (Nancy) Green, Albany; Truett Latimer, of Austin, executive director of the Texas Historical Commission; and U.S. Representatives Omar Burleson and George Mahon.

In addition to its holdings, the Research Center for the Southwest was the headquarters for the West Texas Historical Association. The WTHA was first established in 1924 at Hardin-Simmons University (then Simmons College) as the result of the foresight and at the behest of Rupert Richardson and other prominent historians. From its 1976 beginning, the Research Center for the Southwest was home for more than twenty years to the WTHA, until it moved its headquarters in 1998 to Texas Tech University.

Since the Center’s founding, intensive efforts to gather pertinent Southwest artifacts have resulted in the acquisition of thousands of items including books, monographs, microfilms of regional newspapers, archival items related to the Spanish and Mexican eras, copies of records of military activities in the Southwest, doctoral dissertations and master’s theses on the region, oral histories, as well as personal, family, and business papers of historical interest.

View the Collections page to learn more about the many objects housed in the Research Center.

Located on the 2nd floor
of the Richardson Library
Open: Monday-Friday
2:00-5:00 or by appointment
Contact: Mary Burke
mary.burke@hsutx.edu 325-670-1807

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The West Texas Digital Archive (WTDA) is a digitized collection of items of historical significance from Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene Christian University, McMurry University, Howard Payne University, and the Abilene Public Library, along with items from the surrounding communities.

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