Search this Finding Aid

alert Continue your research elsewhere

Contact Us

Schedule Research Appointment.

Contact, Report Errors, etc.

Support Our Efforts

Lillian Gunter Family Papers, 1885-2014 | Manuscripts

By Zachary Richardson

Collection Overview

Title: Lillian Gunter Family Papers, 1885-2014Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates:1885-1982
ID: 01/HM.52
Extent: 8.0 Boxes
Subjects: Cooke County (Tex.) -- History., Gainesville (Tex.) -- History., Grayson County (Tex.) -- History., Sherman (Tex.) -- History.

Request Items From This Collection


Papers, 1885-1982, of Lillian Gunter and her family in Cooke County, Texas, including correspondence, diaries, financial documents, literary productions, printed material, photographic material, and scrapbooks.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Papers, 1885-1982, including correspondence, diaries, financial documents, literary productions, legal documents, research notes, printed material, photographs, and scrapbooks concerning Lillian Gunter, librarian in Cooke County, Texas, and her family. The collection includes extensive research notes on the history of Cooke County, Texas.

Collection Historical Note

GUNTER, LILLIAN (1870–1926). Lillian Gunter, pioneer county librarian and architect of the County Free Library Law of Texas, was born at Sivells Bend, Texas, on September 15, 1870, to Addison Yancey and Elizabeth (Ligon) Gunter. Her parents had moved to Texas in the 1850s, he from North Carolina (via Troupe County, Georgia) and she from Clay County, Missouri. In 1866 her father, who served a term in the Texas legislature in 1885, bought a plantation at Sivells Bend on the Red River, where Lillian grew to womanhood. Her home became a frequent stopping place for friends and travelers eager to discuss major issues of the day with the Gunter brothers, agricultural, civic, and Democratic political leaders of North Texas. Lillian attended the local school until she was twelve. Then she entered Sacred Heart Convent in St. Louis, Missouri, where she studied for three years (1882–85); later she spent two years at the Wesleyan Institute, Staunton, Virginia. After her father's death in 1892, she managed his estate until 1901, when she and her mother moved to nearby Gainesville.

As a member of the XLI Club, a local women's literary society that also played an active role in civic affairs, Lillian Gunter took the initiative in transforming a small subscription library into the Gainesville Public Library, which she directed for ten years. This library, located in a Carnegie building completed in 1914, became the central library for the Cooke County system, which was established in 1920. On learning there was no legal way that rural people could organize and support a public library in Texas, Lillian Gunter began the crusade to pass a county-library law. She studied the systems of New York and California, traveling to both states at her own expense; enlisted the aid of legislators, the Texas Library Association, the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, newspapers, and townspeople; wrote legislation; and fought legal battles to establish service for Texans. Her determination overcame defeat and frustration from delays, led to an awareness that the first county-library law was weak and unworkable, and brought about a new law, passed in 1917. The courts overturned this law, however. With the help of Cooke County representative George W. Dayton, who urged passage in the legislature, Gunter's continued efforts resulted in the passage of a new County Free Library Law in 1919, a statute that remains in effect.

The Cooke County Library, which Gunter founded in 1920 and directed until her death, was the second such system established under the new law (Dallam County having founded the first only a few months earlier), but the first established by petition. The direction and expansion of the library during its early years earned for its director the reputation of being an authority on library establishment and administration. Many librarians and laymen throughout Texas and the Southwest sought her advice on their problems, and in response to their appeals she made speeches and wrote numerous articles. Lillian Gunter, however, did not confine her activities to librarianship. Because of her interest in local and regional history, she became in 1925 a charter member of the Red River Valley Historical Association. She was an active member of the Texas Library Association and served as its first vice president in 1915–16, president in 1918–19, and treasurer in 1914–15. She was a cofounder in 1922 and first treasurer of the Southwestern Library Association. She died on October 10, 1926, at her mother's home in Gainesville and was buried in the family cemetery at Sivells Bend.

Source: Margaret Irby Nichols, "GUNTER, LILLIAN," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed January 25, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Accruals: 92-015, 93-018, 94-014, 95-018, 96-001, 2001-007, 2001-008, 2002-002, 2009-008, 2010-016, 2010-017, 2014-72
Access Restrictions: This collection is not restricted.
Use Restrictions: Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Archives and Rare Books department. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Physical Access Note: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to use. Boxes 1847-1854 and 1853a are housed in the Archives and Rare Books vault. Please contact the UNT Archives and Rare Book department for further information.
Acquisition Source: Pete A. Y. Gunter
Preferred Citation: Lillian Gunter Family Papers, University of North Texas Archives and Rare Books
Processing Information: Box-level description available for collection in the UNT Archives card catalog. Please contact the UNT Archives for more information.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 2Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Barcode: 620349
Box 2Add to your cart.
Barcode: 620350
Box 3Add to your cart.
Barcode: 620351
Box 4Add to your cart.
Barcode: 620352
Box 5Add to your cart.
Barcode: 620353
Box 6: Ledgers, 1900-1954Add to your cart.
1900-1905; 1906-1925; 1913-1917; 1922-1954; 1938-1939
Barcode: 652032

This search tool is provided so that you can augment your research in other systems across the web. Simply enter or modify your search term(s) and choose one of the available services below to look up information. We'll open your request in a new browser window.

Hint: Most systems will give better results for phrases when you wrap them in "quotation marks"

alert Make sure to check for additional tools on the results page to help further refine your search. You can typically find these in the left-hand column of the page or as a horizontal menu at the top of the page.

Page Generated in: 0.997 seconds (using 235 queries).
Using 13.16MB of memory. (Peak of 13.59MB.)

Powered by Archon Version 3.21
Copyright ©2011 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign