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Archival Surprises

by DK Smith, Project Archivist

In part, the fascination of an archivist’s job lies in the discovery of bits of lost history hidden in doctors’ papers. For example, the photo below contains a wonderful unknown trophy, faceless major characters, and an obviously emotional scene. What is going on? Five minutes with a loupe, an archivist’s magnifying tool, and some research led to the discovery of the High School Girls Basketball League, one of the earliest and most successful leagues for women’s basketball in Texas, holding statewide tournaments from 1939-1954 for 129 Texas high schools.  This scene was shot at the state championship award ceremony in 1951, a time commonly thought to be devoid of womens’ sports.


The photo is located in MS 159 Dr. Herb Fred papers in the series Family Life, Photos at the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center.  This collection is still being processed and will be available to the public in 2014.

For more on the High School Girls Basketball League of Texas go to