Friday, May 25, 2012

Texas A&M Press Remembers University's First Full-Time Female Professor, Author

Texas A&M University Press mourns the passing of Betty Unterberger, the first woman to join Texas A&M at the rank of full professor with tenure. Unterberger taught history for 36 years until her retirement in 2004.

She passed away May 15 in her College Station home, at the age of 89.

Unterberger, hired by the late General James Earl Rudder in 1968, was also the author of The United States, Revolutionary Russia, and the Rise of Czechoslovakia, published by Texas A&M University Press in 2000. Her classic study of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia examines Woodrow Wilson’s direction of U.S. policy toward Czechoslovakia, as it sought liberation in the early 20th Century.
Rudder asked Unterberger to help internationalize the history department and to build a graduate program. She became the first female in a full professorship at a formerly all-male college.

Unterberger taught Russian foreign policy and Communist China during the Cold War. In 1991, the College of Liberal Arts appointed her to the Patricia and Bookman Peters Professorship in History, which allowed her to accept an exchange professorship at Charles University in Prague in 1992. While there, she became one of the first Western scholars after the breakup of the Soviet Union to gain access to important historical documents.

Her trip there gave her the idea for her book The United States and the Russian Civil War: The Betty Miller Unterberger Collection of Documents which she felt was her “capstone research contribution to the field of American foreign affairs.”

Following her retirement from Texas A&M, she received a personal letter of appreciation for her service from Leon Panetta, the former director of the CIA.

Underberger received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1943, a Master of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1946 and a doctorate degree from Duke University in 1950. She began college on a forensics scholarship, but a citizenship course with Syracuse’s only female professor at the time incited her true passion.

A memorial service in her honor was held Sunday, May 20 at 2:00 in the All Faiths Chapel on campus.

Memorial donations may be made to the Texas A&M Foundation for the Betty Miller Unterberger Memorial Account, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840. A Facebook page has also been set up for those who knew Unterberger to share their memories and photos.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Letters to Alice" Launch Party

Authors Jane Clements Monday and Frances Brannen Vick
On Tuesday, May 8, Laura and Bob Wilson, Dub and Jane Roberts Wood, and Mel Crews and Thomas Adams hosted a launch party in Dallas for TAMU Press’s new book Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty written by Jane Monday and Fran Vick with a foreword by Thomas Kreneck.

In the summer of 1881, Robert Justus Kleberg rode across the hot, dusty South Texas brush country to the palatial home of Capt. Richard King to consult with the cattle baron about attending to his legal affairs. On that same journey, the young lawyer also first laid eyes on Alice King, “Princess of the Wild Horse Desert.” Neither of their lives would ever be the same.

Published for the first time in this book, the love letters written by Kleberg to Alice Gertrudis King provide a glimpse of the lives of two of the most influential people in Texas history. Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty represents the only existing collection of letters between any of the great Texas cattle barons and their wives. Although a great deal is already known about the ranch and its development, Monday and Vick present for the first time Robert Justus Kleberg’s personal perspective on his first meeting with Alice King, their early courtship, the difficulties obtaining her parents’ permission to marry, and the poignant time surrounding Captain King’s death.

Monday and Vick are the coauthors of the award-winning Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy, published by Texas A&M University Press in 2007. Monday has served as chair of the Texas State University System Board of Regents and mayor of Huntsville, Texas, and is a distinguished alumna of the University of Texas at Austin. Vick, cofounder of the University of North Texas Press, has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas State Historical Association. She is also a Fellow of the Texas Folklore Society and president of the Philosophical Society of Texas.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Neches River Bill

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 2324, the Upper Neches Wild and Scenic River Study Act. If passed, the bill would authorize a formal study of the eligibility of a specific section of East Texas’ Neches River for designation as a National Wild and Scenic River. The National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service would study this 225-mile section of the Neches River from the Lake Palestine dam in Anderson and Cherokee Counties to B.A.Steinhagen Lake in Jasper and Tyler Counties.

"The Neches River is one of Texas' most beautiful, free-flowing rivers and provides a vital habitat for fish and other aquatic animals," said Sen. Hutchison. "Its location in the heart of the Central Flyway makes it a crucial path for migrating ducks, geese, and songbirds. A Wild and Scenic River designation would help preserve all these attributes."

“The Neches River is a tremendous asset for Texans,” said Richard Donovan, author of Paddling the Wild Neches (Texas A&M University Press, 2006). “Senator Hutchison’s bill is the first step toward protecting its value for our children and our children’s children.” The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act allows for the identification of certain rivers in the United States which have outstanding qualities. There are about 200 rivers in the U.S. with wild and scenic status. Texas has one national river of this type, a section of the Rio Grande River bordering Big Bend National Park.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TAMU Press Author Named AMU’s 2012 Distinguished Graduate

Former rancher and US Air Force officer, Thomas E. Alexander was named Distinguished Graduate by The American Military University in Virginia for this year. Alexander, and his co-author Dan K. Utley, are coauthors of the forthcoming book Faded Glory: A Century of Forgotten Military Sites in Texas, to be published by Texas A&M University Press.

Alexander was appointed professional historian to the Texas Historical Commission by Governor Rick Perry in 2003 and was reappointed in 2009. He received the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution National History Award Medal for his contribution to American History in 2007 and was commissioned an Admiral in the Texas Navy by Governor Perry for his service in preserving the history of Texas in 2008.

Alexander’s works have also received many other awards, including the San Antonio Conservation Society’s “Publication of the Year Award” in 2001 and the Rupert Richardson Award as the Best Book on West Texas History in 2006.

Alexander’s Distinguished Graduate award will be presented at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Fort Washington, Maryland, on June 15, 2012.

Be on the lookout for Alexander’s two new books on Texas military history in the near future.