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East Texas State University History Collection

Identifier: 2008.197-E

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of three separate series documenting the history of East Texas State University: Series I. "The East Texas Story" by William E. Sawyer, Series II. Lists, and Series III. Photographs.


  • 1965-1973, undated

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Biographical / Historical

East Texas State University (ETSU) was the name of the university now known as Texas A&M University–Commerce from its renaming as East Texas State University in 1965 (after the establishment of its first doctoral program) to its admission into the Texas A&M University System and renaming as Texas A&M University–Commerce in 1996. It was founded in 1889 by William L. Mayo as a private teachers' college named East Texas Normal College in Cooper, Texas. After the original campus was destroyed in a fire in July 1894, the college relocated to Commerce. In 1917, the State of Texas purchased and transformed it into a state college, and renamed it East Texas State Normal College. Mayo died of a sudden heart attack the same day the Texas Legislature voted to buy the college, and he never heard the news. In 1923, it was renamed East Texas State Teachers College to define its purpose "more clearly", and in 1935 it began its graduate education program. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the college grew consistently, in terms of student enrollment, number of faculty, and size of the physical plant.

The school was renamed East Texas State College in 1957, after the Legislature recognized its broadening scope beyond teacher education. It integrated in 1964 when ordered to do so by the Board of Regents. It was renamed East Texas State University in 1965, after the establishment of the institution's first doctoral program in 1962. While the student body shrank in size in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it became increasingly diverse as older non-traditional students, ethnic and racial minorities, and international students all grew in numbers. The economic downturn in Texas in the mid-1980s seriously threatened the university, leading to proposals to close it entirely before a bus trip with 450 supporters trekked to the State Capitol in a show of support that ultimately secured its continued existence. The university was renamed Texas A&M University–Commerce and admitted into the Texas A&M University System in 1996.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



All materials ordered first alphabetically by topic and then chronologically.

Separated Materials

Originally interfiled with the other materials from the ETNC and W.L. Mayo Artificial Collection (2008.197), which have been removed into seven separate collections: the Mayo Family Collection (2008.197-A), East Texas Normal College Collection (2008.197-B), East Texas State Normal College Collection (2008.197-C), East Texas State Teachers College Collection (2008.197-D), Mayo Memorial Collection (2008.197-F), Northeast Texas Church History Collection (2008.197-G), and Commerce Independent School District Collection (2008.197-H).

East Texas State University History Collection
Michael Barera
July 17, 2017
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Repository Details

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