Texas Tech University

Southwest Collection/ Special Collections Library Exhibit to Feature Former Governor

Coke Stevenson
Gov. Coke Stevenson
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The Texas Tech University Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library (SWC/SCL) will host a reception for an exhibit about former Gov. Coke Stevenson at 3 p.m. Friday (March 31) in the Formby Room of the SWC/SCL.

Chancellor Robert Duncan will speak at the event. Stevenson's daughter, Jane Chandler, and his grandson, Rep. Andrew Murr, also will speak at the event. Murr is a Texas Tech School of Law alumnus.

Stevenson was the governor of Texas from 1941 to 1947 and was known as "Mr. Texas." He was born in northern Mason County on March 20, 1888. In his early years, Stevenson worked as a cowhand, built windmills and owned a freight line at age 16.

Later, Stevenson went on to work as a janitor at a bank and later became a clerk. Eventually, he was the bank president.

"Gov. Coke Stevenson had a stellar political career in Texas. Unfortunately, in the post-World War II era of highly visible television candidates, historians have overlooked earlier politicians of great repute in their time," said Monte Monroe, Southwest Collection archivist. "Also, for many years Texas historians believed that Stevenson's personal papers had been destroyed in a barn fire. However, a few years ago Tom Arsuffi, director of the Texas Tech Junction Campus reached out to the Southwest Collection, explaining that Gov. Stevenson's daughter held a large cache of records that needed preserving. Staff at the Southwest Collection worked closely with the family for at least three years to make that happen."

The collection includes diaries, legal papers and photographs from when Stevenson was 1 year old up to his death, Monroe said.

While working in the bank, Stevenson apprenticed in law, passed the bar exam and established a practice that lasted more than 60 years. Next, he entered politics as the Kimble County Attorney and County Judge before going on to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1938, he was elected lieutenant governor and in 1941, he became governor.

After the reception and exhibit opening, the records will be available for public research purposes. Visitor parking is available at the SWC/SCL and between the Student Union and Administration buildings.

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