Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey Library
Backstory and Context
Texas Woman’s University’s library began as one room with a mere 460 books on the second floor of the Old Main Building in 1901. It was often neglected and underfinanced. The collection grew with the college and soon reached the limits of its allotted space. Although President Bralley pushed for a proper library building during his administration, legislation was not approved until 1925 under President Hubbard. Named for the former president, the Bralley Memorial Library opened in 1927 with a collection of approximately 24,000 volumes.
The student body continued to grow, and with the institution of graduate study in 1930, the need for research materials increased. The library, once again, faced overcrowding. Bralley Memorial was remodeled and modernized in 1960 with a newly added wing that doubled the library’s storage capacity. However, this would only be a temporary solution. Bralley soon developed structural problems and the need for a new library building became urgent. A plan for a new building was put forth with the ten-year master plan for TWU unveiled in Fall 1978. The new library would become a high priority for Dr. Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey and her administration.
Funded by an $8 million special appropriation from the Texas Legislature, construction on the new library began in 1984. Clearing land on campus for the library led to the demolition of Dormitory Row, the complex of residence halls built along Oakland Avenue. Although the dorms were home to students for almost forty years, they did not meet building codes and were no longer needed for housing. Little Chapel-in-the-Woods architect, O’Neil Ford, prepared the schematic design for the new library but the architecture and construction were picked up by Dallas-based Hendrick’s and Walls Architects, Inc. The architects wanted the new building to fit with the historic buildings on campus and echo a sense of tradition.
The exterior of the three-story, Georgian-style building is red masonry with a white Roman portico entrance, slate roof, and topped with a copper cupola. Inside, a grand white rotunda spans all three floors with the TWU seal on the floor of its base. The dome of the rotunda is embellished with nine brilliant stained-glass windows. Each unique piece portrays Classical goddesses and muses as well as native flowers to Texas, Greece, and Italy. The windows fit with the Classical motif of the library and represent TWU’s dedication to higher learning and the advancement and recognition of women.
The library is named for Dr. Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey, a Distinguished Alumna and the University’s first female president (1976 to 1986). Dr. Huey not only earned two degrees from the University, but she also was a long-time Denton resident, was the daughter and sister of alumnae, attended the University's Demonstration School in kindergarten and first grade, and visited the University's print shop with her father. She had a unique connection to the University and had known the campus longer than any previous president. Dr. Huey not only pushed for the library’s construction but also left her enduring mark on TWU. Influenced by her lifetime connection to the University, she strengthened traditions and revitalized old forgotten ones. Dr. Huey dedicated her time to growing the University and is remembered by alumnae for her contributions in bringing TWU into the modern era.
Today, the Blagg-Huey Library houses more than a half a million books, 10,000 audiovisual materials, more than 700,000 volumes of microform, and more than 6,000 serial subscriptions. The library’s Woman’s Collection is the largest depository of research material on women in the South and Southwest. Special collections include the Julie Benell Cookbook and Menu Collection and exhibits from the Texas Foundation for Women’s Resources. The library is also home to the archives for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the material depository for the Whirly-Girl helicopter organization. The Blagg-Huey Library serves as a landmark of the TWU campus not only for its architectural beauty but for its dedication to the development and education of its students and its commitment to the preservation of women’s history.
1. Bridges, Phyllis. Marking New Trails: An Informal History of the Texas Woman's University. Denton, Tex.: Texas Woman's University Press, 2014.
2. “New Library to Open Fall 1985.” The Daily Lasso (Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX), Apr. 20, 1983.
3. Texas Woman's University. Library. Iconographies of the Virginia Thomas Memorial Windows: The Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey Library, Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas. Limited ed. Denton, Tex.: Texas Woman's University Press, 1987.
4. Thompson, Joyce. Marking a Trail: A History of the Texas Woman's University. Denton, Tex.: Texas Woman's University Press, 1982.