Murphy Givens research now available in TAMU-CC archives
Murphy Givens was a masterful historian, demanding in his research and amassing years of articles, books, and photographs related to local South Texas history.
Now, students and researchers have access to these records in the new Murphy Givens South Texas Historical Records, housed in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
“His collection is comprehensive, with many new items related to local history. He shared some of his archives with me while we were working on books, but I was surprised by the expansive nature of his material,” said local author Jim Moloney, who has frequently collaborated with Givens. “Some of the items were given to him by members of the public, knowing he would use them and treat them with respect.”
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After Givens died in December 2020, Moloney introduced the widowed Karen Givens to Lori Atkins, director of special collections and archives at the library. Givens wanted to donate her husband’s material to future researchers.
“It’s an outstanding historical reference collection,” Atkins said. “Mr. Givens has researched the history of Corpus Christi citizens, street names, buildings, churches, the history of the Corpus Christi Civil War, the Texas Revolution, the Texas Rangers, the hurricanes that hit South Texas and ranches.”
The collection, which spans over 50 linear feet, includes tons of information that a working historian would use. It includes columns and news articles published by Givens, scripts for radio shows, correspondence, editorial work and published books, as well as material he has collected over the years, such as historical postcards, various reference file indexes and photographs.
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“Mr. Givens was meticulous in his record keeping and document preservation, which made our job of preparing research papers for the University and the Coastal Bend community faster and more efficient,” Atkins explained. .
“Right now I’m two-thirds through the paperwork, and we’re scanning all the photographs. We’ve scanned 300 photos and there are about 700 left.”
On February 3, the department hosted a reception in honor of Givens and a preview of some items from the new collection. Guest speakers included Moloney, fellow historian Mary Jo O’Rear, and former Caller-Times de Givens colleagues Nick Jimenez, Tom Whitehurst Jr., and Libby Averyt. Although the pieces are still being digitized, a research guide is available online and the collection can also be viewed in person at the Special Collections and Archives department by appointment.
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“He poured his blood, sweat and tears into these papers, and while Murphy was very self-effacing, he took every comment and compliment on his work personally,” Karen Givens said in a statement via the ‘university.
“He would be so happy to see this collection. We are very proud of his works and hope they encourage everyone who sees them to think critically and ask questions. This is exactly what he would have wanted.
Allison Ehrlich writes about things to do in South Texas and has a weekly Thursday column on local history. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe