William Curry Holden : biography
William Curry Holden (July 19, 1896 - April 21, 1993), also known as Curry Holden, was an historian and archaeologist. In 1937, he became the first director of the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. During his tenure, the museum gained regional and state recognition for excellence. Holden also guided the plans for a new museum building, which was dedicated on November 11, 1970. The museum includes the main building, the Moody Planetarium, the Natural Science Research Laboratory, the research and educational elements of the Lubbock Lake Landmark, and the Val Verde County research site.
Holden authored or coauthored more than twelve books and forty-two articles and pamphlets in professional and commercial journals. He also wrote for The Handbook of Texas, including the article on the Matador Ranch. Four works focused on the Yaqui Indians. His only novel, Hill of the Rooster, published in 1956, traces the life of a woman called "Chepa" during the Yaqui rebellion of 1926-1927. Holden also wrote Teresita (1978), which describes the life of Teresa Urrea, a Mexican folk healer.
Other Holden books included:
- A Yaqui Life (coauthored in 1971 with daughter Jane Holden Kelley)
- Rollie Burns (1932)
- Spur Ranch (1934)
- A Ranching Saga: The Lives of William Electious Halsell and Ewing Halsell
University of Texas and McMurry College
After his military service, Holden obtained a job as principal at his alma mater, Rotan High School. Soon thereafter, he left to position and entered the University of Texas, where he studied under the historian Eugene C. Barker. He was also heavily influenced by Professor Walter Prescott Webb, author of The Great Plains. During most of the 1920s, Holden taught history at the college level while still continuing his own studies at the University of Texas, where he eventually earned his bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees. He later studied briefly at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado.
In 1923, Holden organized and chaired the history department at the newly established McMurry College (now McMurry University), a Methodist-affiliated institution in Abilene, Texas. He encouraged his students to collect and preserve family and regional histories, including newspapers. He would utilize these materials in writing his doctoral dissertation, published in 1930 under the name Alkali Trails. He also launched a course at McMurry in archeology and took students to research sites along the Canadian River. He, along with Rupert N. Richardson, president of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, was among the original co-founders of the West Texas Historical Association, originally based in Abilene but relocated to Lubbock in 1998.
Early years, education, military
Holden was one of three sons born to Robert Lee Holden and Grace Holden née Davis in Coolidge, Texas. The Holden and Davis families moved west toward Colorado City, Texas. He was reared on a farm near Rotan, Texas, where he completed high school in 1914.
He procured teacher certification through now-closed Stamford Junior College in Stamford, Texas. In 1915, he accepted a position in Pleasant Valley, Texas, where he was the only instructor of forty-seven students in nine classes. He organized a literary club and basketball teams and led the students to victory in the county interscholastic meeting.
Holden studied Texas history under Professor Joseph A. Hill at West Texas Normal College (now West Texas A&M University) in Canyon, Texas, during the summers of 1917 and 1918. During World War I, Holden served in the Eighty-sixth United States Army Infantry at San Antonio.
Forty years at Texas Tech University
Main entrance to Holden Hall
In 1929, Holden joined the faculty of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) to instruct history and anthropology. He remained there for more than four decades. He became chairman of the history department in 1936. Holden Hall, the location of the original Museum of Texas Tech University and now used for classrooms and offices, was named in his honor in 1972. This was the first such honor accorded to a living member of the faculty. A bronze bust of Holden, created by Lubbock sculptor Glenna Goodacre, was unveiled in the museum rotunda.
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