Football and Homecoming, or as it was written in 1919, “home-coming,” haven’t always gone hand-in-hand at the school now known as West Texas A&M University.
In fact, according to the first issue of “The Prairie,” which its masthead proclaimed was “Published by the students of the West Texas State Normal College,” the college’s first Homecoming was to be in the Spring of 1920 and coincide with graduation. “During Commencement in 1920 the West Texas State Normal College will hold its first home-coming.”
The article continues: “This program will present, pehaps [sic], the geatest [sic] series of social and intellectual treats the Panhandle of Texas has ever enjoyed.” Despite the typos, the message was clear: WT was excited to welcome back its alumni, and the 10th anniversary of the school was a great time to do it.
“The Prairie” has been chronicling the comings and goings of WT ever since that first issue hit campus on Monday, October 20, 1919. The current electronic iteration can be found at www.theprairienews.com. But for students, faculty, and staff, the earliest print editions can now be found in WT’s digital repository.
Cornette Library’s digital lab moved about two months ago from the second floor workroom near the Texas Poet’s Corner and Blackburn Reading Room to the first floor in what was the Interlibrary Loan office. It has given the Special Collections and University Archives Department more room to do work like scanning “The Prairie.” The WTAMU DSpace Repository has issues through 1935.
Library Specialist Patrick Diepen, who oversees the digitization of “The Prairie,” said about 600 issues have been scanned so far, and the total when the project is complete will be about 5,000 pages. The goal is for the project to be about halfway completed by March. The timeline varies depending on how many pages per issue and how many issues per year were published.
The early Prairies are located at https://wtamu-ir.tdl.org/handle/11310/4078.
The University Archives Digital Collections is located at https://wtamu-ir.tdl.org/handle/11310/3513.
So who was voted Queen of West Texas State Teachers College in 1935? Spoiler: it was Miss Fern Knutson, of Shamrock, Texas. By the end of this semester, the 1936 Prairies should be accessible and you can read how Queen Knutson reigned.