2341 Hickory, Abilene, Tx, 79698          325-670-1578

Research Center
For The Southwest



Center History

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 for the Southwest in the Richardson Library at Hardin-Simmons University continues to fulfill its founding purpose. The Center’s holdings were—and continue to be—available to scholars, educators, and other serious students of history and related disciplines.

Originally established as a cooperative effort of Abilene’s three universities and housed on the Hardin-Simmons campus, the Center 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.

Appropriately and significantly, Rupert Richardson was the Center’s first director and served through 1983 in that capacity. Starting in 1984 and continuing through 2001, Dr. B.W. Aston, Senior Professor of History, was the director. In January 2002, the Richardson Library began administering the Center.

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 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. Also included are Rupert Richardson’s personal library and papers. pert N. Richardson Library which houses the Richardson Research Center for the Southwest. 


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