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Locally authored women's history book wins Liz Carpenter Prize

By FROM NEWS RELEASE
March 19, 2011 at 10 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.

Ellen Temple, right, founder of the Carpenter Award, makes a presentation to Hal Smith and Judith McArthur at the Texas State Historical Association's annual conference in El Paso.

A Texas women's history book by two local historians recently was selected by the Texas State Historical Association as the winner of the $1,000 Liz Carpenter Award.

Judith McArthur, a University of Houston-Victoria adjunct faculty member, and Harold Smith, a UHV history professor, co-wrote "Texas Through Women's Eyes: The Twentieth-Century Experience."

They were presented with the award at the association's annual conference March 3 in El Paso for the best book about Texas women's history in 2010.

"I'm speechless with delight," McArthur said. "I never dreamed we would win the award a second time with all the wonderful books on Texas women's history that are being published."

Their 2003 book, "Minnie Fisher Cunningham: A Suffragist's Life in Politics," also won the Carpenter Award.

"The award is a dream come true," Smith said. "We are very excited, not only for ourselves, but for the university. UHV may be one of the smaller universities in Texas, but the award demonstrates that its faculty can compete successfully with faculty at much larger institutions."

The book, released in September, is a unique take on women's history in Texas, highlighting lesser-known names, first-person accounts and more minority voices than have been cited in the past publications. It chronicles women's activism throughout the 20th century, bringing the right to vote and better job opportunities, among other changes.

"Texas Through Women's Eyes" has received a number of favorable reviews, including one in the Dallas Morning News, which called it "invaluable."

The book also is a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters' "Most Significant Scholarly Book" published in 2010.

Sunny Nash, a leading author on race relations in the U.S., said she has found the book relevant to discussions in more areas than Texas women's history.

"I believe previous attempts to recognize the 20th-century contributions of Texas women laid the groundwork of curiosity," Nash said. "But it was the actual research by Judith McArthur and Harold Smith that produced 'Texas Through Women's Eyes,' giving us a captivating and sometimes ultra-private glimpse into the lives of these women, and helps us to understand them and ourselves in a deeper way."

The Liz Carpenter Award was established in 1992 to encourage publication of scholarly research about the history of women in the Lone Star State.

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