Celebrating 100 years with MSU Texas: Exploring the archives

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - News Channel 6 is celebrating a century with Midwestern State University, and we’re continuing our tribute to the university’s past, present and future with a look into the artifacts held in the MSU Texas archives.

Located in the Moffett Library, shelves are full of documents like ledgers, WWII service records and Wai-Kuns.

“Anything that depicts our history is here,” Leslee Ponder, alumni engagement liaison, said. “I’ll get things in the mail from time to time. People will say I have my uncle’s this, that or the other. Freshman beanie, annuals, letter jacket, so we bring all of those over here. Everything that we’ve done, we send a copy over here.”

Walking down the aisles of the archives, you are sure to find a number of keepsakes, like uniforms and letter sweaters worn by former students.

“This is a nursing outfit that I just love,” Ponder said. “I just think it is so darling, it’s so tiny. I love the colors, I love everything about it. It is from 1969 and I think it is so darling. We actually were going to display this and put it on a mannequin for one of our events. I couldn’t even button it on the mannequin, it’s so tiny. But the colors, there’re just to die for. I just love it.”

“This is an old basketball letter sweater instead of a letter jacket,” Ponder said. “Ironically, we’ve got the letter from this gentleman, Tom Cogdell. And he had the letter written to Dr. Jesse Rogers, our past president, and about donating the sweater back. This is his letter sweater from 1955. He apologizes that the moths got first dibs on this sweater, but I love the old sweaters.”

We were so intrigued, we had to connect a face to this piece of the past. So you can imagine all of our excitement when we found Tom Cogdell in the 1955 yearbook.

We also checked out what’s believed to be the first annual for the college. It’s called the Coyote and was a combined yearbook between the Wichita Falls High School and Wichita Falls Junior College.

And while flipping through the pages this old commencement newspaper, we also got to see the faces of the 1929 class, all helping showcase the university’s growth over the past century.

“I’m holding the graduation program from Thursday, May the 15th of 1924 and at the bottom of the Wichita Falls High School graduates is listed our Junior College graduates,” Ponder said. “There were 9. This past year with our fall, spring and summer, we have 3 graduations, we graduated anywhere from 1,200-1,400 students. So that’s a hundred years for you.”

And it was an extra special moment when Ashley Fitzwater connected herself to that history and found her photo, along with her sister’s, in the archive.

“When I started out here in 1982, I lived on campus and we had about 400 students that lived on campus,” Ponder said. “We have about 2,000 now, that’s even in the last 40 years. And so it continues to grow. It’s just crazy, even since I’ve been on campus, how much it’s grown.”

All MSU Texas centennial celebration stories can be found by clicking here.

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