Terra Cognita

Newsletter of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Page 3

May 2003

Jenkins Garrett, Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries

[Editor’s note: The full citations for Jenkins Garrett and Virginia Garrett will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society in October 2003, and will be posted on sochistdisc. org.]

Jenkins Garrett was born in Caldwell, Texas, on December 14, 1914, the son of Jesse and Sudie Garrett. In 1921 the family moved to Fort Worth so that Jesse Garrett, at that time an attorney, could attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to become a minister. Jenkins attended Fort Worth public schools in the Rosen Heights neighborhood where he was raised and the law school at the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated in 1937. At UT Garrett enrolled in a history class taught by Walter Prescott Webb, and this class had a permanent impact on him. Webb’s class lit a fire in Garrett, prompting him to read and ultimately collect sources that reflect the rich history of Texas. After attending Harvard and receiving a master’s of law in 1939, Garrett returned to Texas, joined the FBI during WWII, and married Virginia Williams of Fort Worth.
     After the war, Garrett devoted his life to a law career, his family, the expansion of educational opportunities beyond the high school level in Texas, and the “disease”—his word—of collecting. Garrett amassed an outstanding collection of some 10,000 items, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, broadsides, sheet music and currency, all focusing on Texas and the U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848. The Garretts donated this collection to the University of Texas at Arlington in 1974, where it became the nucleus of the Special Collections Division. Since this original gift, the Garretts, through their support, zeal, and philanthropy, have, to use the words of Harry Ransom, former chancellor of the University of Texas System and library builder, “increased the scope, deepened the base, and moved the boundaries of the UTA Library constantly outward.” 
     Like his wife, Virginia, Jenkins Garrett is a Life Member of the Society for the History of Discoveries, and has been a staunch supporter of SHD for decades. 
Gerald Saxon

Fig. 3 – Virginia Garrett and Jenkins Garrett, Fellows of the Society for the History of Discoveries, 2003.

Virginia Garrett, Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries
     Virginia Williams was born on November 26, 1920, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She married Jenkins Garrett in 1941. They have three children and have spent their lives together briefly in California, but mostly in Texas.
Fascinated with maps all her life, in the 1950’s Virginia began seriously to collect maps in part as a complement to her husband’s abiding interest in books. She concentrated on printed maps of the land that would become Texas and of the Gulf of Mexico to 1900, and today she is known on both sides of the Atlantic as a knowledgeable and thoughtful collector.
     In the 1990’s she donated her extensive collection of over 900 maps and almost 400 atlases to The University of Texas at Arlington to form the foundation for the Virginia Garrett Cartographic History Library, a major international research collection for the history of cartography, discovery, and exploration, and an invaluable stimulus and resource for UTA’s Ph.D. program in Transatlantic 
     She also is the founder of the prestigious Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography, which are held biennially at the University of Texas at Arlington. The third series was presented in October 2002. Like her husband, Jenkins, Virginia is a Life Member of the Society for the History of Discoveries.
Dennis Reinhartz

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