Willie Lee Gay Collection
Scope and Content
The Willie Lee Gay Collection contains the professional and personal papers of teacher and historian Willie Lee Gay. This collection which dates from 1897 to 2012 includes newsclippings, publications, photos, research materials, programs, assorted photocopied images, and organizations that highlight her work as a historian in documenting and preserving the history of African American communities in Houston. This collection contains invaluable research on local houston history and prominent community members.
- 1897 - 2012
All materials are in English.
This collection is open for research.
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Willie Lee Gay Collection must be obtained from African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.
A Texas historian for the past 30 years, Willie Lee Gay has been a vocal advocate and teacher for documenting the history of African American communities in Texas. In 1976, Gay made a concerted effort to save the historic Covington House in Third Ward from destruction. Dr. Benjamin Covington, a prominent African American doctor of the early 1900s, hosted such luminaries as Booker T. Washington and singer Marian Anderson at his home. Despite her efforts the historic structure was destroyed in the interests of redevelopment. She would use this experience as motivation to preserve other historic properties, determined never to let this happen again.
As a history teacher in Houston, she was never content to teach strictly from a textbook. Her teaching style incorporated an interdisciplinary approach, where students would conduct site visits, demonstrations, and hands-on research that involved students proactively. Her philosophy was to instill a passion for history and to make it real and relevant for her students. She founded the Junior Historian Club at the Carter G. Woodson Junior High School. Besides teaching, she became actively involved in many organizations that were dedicated to preserving history, such as the Harris County Heritage Society, the Harris County Historical Commission, and the Houston Preservation Alliance.
Her working relationship with former Governor Ann Richards led to her appointment as the first African American Commissioner of the Texas Historical Commission (1991-1997), where she dealt with historic preservation issues on a state-wide level. Ms. Gay currently continues her work of historic preservation in Houston and has contributed many entries on African Americans in the Handbook of Texas, a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history.
4.5 Linear Feet (9)
This collection is arranged into eighteen series by material type and subject. The correspondence sereis is further arranged into two subseries. Items in boxes 4-7 are arranged at folder level.
Series I: Correspondence, 1968-1998; Subseries I: General Correspondence; Subseries II Greeting Cards and Invitations
Series II: News clippings
Series III: Research Notes
Series IV: Churches
Series V: Publications
Series VI: Funeral Programs
Series VII: Reports and Reprints
Series VIII: Ephemera
Series IX: Photographs
Series X: Organizations and Institutions
Series XI: Programs
Series XII: Artifacts and Realia
Series XIII: Legal Documents, 1915-2001
Series XIV: Flyers
Series XV: Maps and Diagrams
Series XVI: Miscellaneous
Series XVII: Christia Adair Materials
Series XVIII: Career
Donated by: Willie Lee Gay
Materials added to Willie Lee Gay Collection: August 2013
A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the Houston Area Digital Archives. Please view the digitized material at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/gregory/searchterm/ph0027/order/identi
Processed By: Vince Lee, October 2009; Addition processed by: Sheena Wilson, October 2017.
- African American women Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- African American women -- Texas -- Houston Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- African Americans Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Education -- Texas -- Houston Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Historic preservation—Texas—Houston Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- National Association of Colored Women Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church Subject Source: Local sources
- Riverside General Hospital Subject Source: Local sources
- Texas Retired Teachers Association Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- MSS 0006 Willie Lee Gay Collection
- An Inventory of her Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
- Vince Lee
- October, 2009
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the African American History Research Center Repository