Skip to main content

Brenda Black White Collection

Identifier: 2011.13

Scope and Contents

The Brenda Black White collection is mostly composed of correspondence and poetry. The collection is organized into eleven series: Correspondence, Poetry, Manuscripts, Activity Files, Biographical Files, Medical Files, Photographic Materials, Drawings and Paintings, Audio and Audiovisual Materials, Clothing, and Books.

Series I, Correspondence, n.d., 1925, 1944, 1955-2009, professional and personal correspondence received and sent by BBW. She frequently photocopied her outgoing mail. Her letters are mostly from friends, publishers, and magazines. This series also includes Leland C. White's correspondence during his time in prison in the 1980s. Correspondence was written to Leland from Krista Krissy Laine Mathews, his wife Vickie, daughter Amber, and other friends. Additional correspondence between BBW and Leland are throughout the personal correspondence.

Series II, Poetry, n.d., 1952-2007, arranged alphabetically or chronologically when titles where unknown, includes published versions and drafts of poems written by BBW and by other authors.

Series III, Manuscripts, n.d.,1964-2006, includes short stories written by BBW, Leland Krick White, and other authors. Manuscripts arranged alphabetically by author and title.

Series IV, Activity Files, n.d., 1982-2007, consists of articles about BBW, book layouts and drafts, programs, flyers and posters from her performances. The notebooks include notes on poetry, lists, and doodles. These were unbound and blank pages were removed.

Series V, Biographical Files, n.d., 1914-2008, materials on BBW and her immediate family of Ken, Karen, Leland, and Christopher, as well as legal documents related to land.

Series VI, Medical Files, n.d., 1967-2007, articles and brochures of facilities focused on holistic treatments and alternative medicines and treatments. Medical files also include records of BBW's medical history.

Series VII, Photographic Materials, n.d., ca. 1950-1990, primarily family photographs and negatives.

Series VIII, Drawings and Paintings, n.d., 1966-1980. Bulk of the drawings in the collection are sketches of trees. The paintings may all be created by Brenda Black White but not all are signed and not all are completed. Her first oil painting is included in the collection, Two Trees - No beginning - No End, 1967.

Series IX, Audio and Audiovisual Materials, n.d., 1975-2006. Audio and Audiovisual materials are on magnetic tapes from which a digital file has been created. The content of the tapes include video recordings of BBW's performances both onstage and in her home as well as audio recordings of her performances and practice performances. Two reel-to-reel tapes where not digitized or viewed for content.

Series X, Clothing, ca. 1960-2000, consists of BBW's handmade performance clothing. Some sketches or notes were made on commercial pattern illustrations and are included in the Biographical Files and correspondence from Yolanda Spann-Orasz.

Series XI, Books. Books brought into the collection can be found in the library catalogue. Most of the books include fellow authors of Plain View Press publishing company of Austin, Texas.


  • Creation: 1914-2009, inclusive
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1962-2009,


Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Biographical / Historical

Brenda Black White was born March 20, 1935 in Baird, Texas to Eldon Black (1911-1978) and Mae Cameron Black (1915-2009). She was raised in Callahan County and nearby Eastland County in the city of Cisco with her two sisters, Bobby Andrews and Connie Skaggs, and two brothers, Marlon Black and Curtis Black. In 1955, she married Kenneth White in Fort Worth. KW was born in Weatherford, Texas on August 16, 1930. After serving as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy, he graduated from Texas Wesleyan College in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biology. He and BBW moved to Kansas City, Missouri where KW received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Kansas City College of Osteopathy in 1961. BBW and KW moved to Commerce in 1963, where KW was a practicing physician. They had three children, Leland Krick Crawford White, Karen Story White Levy, and Christopher Cameron White.

Although BBW practiced poetry since she was a child, she wrote less after her diagnosis with scleroderma, which eventually confined her to a wheelchair. After her diagnosis, she transitioned her artistic practice to include painting and drawing. BBW painted her first oil painting in 1967, Two Trees-No beginning-No End, dedicated to her son Leland. BBW sold two poems to McCall's magazine, Broken Spell (March 1983) and Silver Words (May 1983). Her poems Tolly Masters, Country Boy, City Girl, and Three Choices, were included in the 1994 edition of Texas In Poetry: A 150 Year Anthology, published by the Center for Texas Studies and the Texas Studies Association. BBW authored two books of poetry, Callahan County (1988), and The Thing About Me (2007). Callahan County was adapted into a play in 1998 and performed at the University Playhouse at East Texas State University the following year.

BBW was a member of the Texas Folklore Society and The International Women's Writing Guild. She also organized poetry events and performed her works nationally. The Sigma Tau Delta Poetry Prize was named in her honor, at East Texas State University. In 2007, Jim Conrad nominated her to be honored with a brick placed in the Authors' Honor Walk in the Authors' Park in Commerce.

BBW sought holistic treatment for her scleroderma with alternative and homeopathic medicine for treatments at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, International Clinic of Biological Regeneration (ICBR) in Mexico and others. BBW's art reflected on the nature of rural life and the difficulties of living with a disability and chronic illness. BBW died January 11, 2010, in her home in Commerce, at the age of seventy four.


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Copies

Clips from the audio digital materials can be found on SoundCloud.

Brenda Black White Collection
Shanna Strunk
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, Waters Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository