Briggs Folklore Collection
Dr. F. Allen Briggs
Family, friends and colleagues gathered at a special reception earlier this month to recall the late Dr. F. Allen Briggs, the first English professor hired at the former Texas A&I University at Laredo in 1970 and the first professor emeritus at its successor, Laredo State University (LSU).
The program featured a welcome by TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck; an introduction by recently retired TAMIU College of Education faculty member and former Dr. Briggs student Dr. Lem Londos Railsback; a presentation on the importance of folklore by Briggs student and now-University of Texas at San Antonio faculty member Dr. Norma Elia Cantú, and a short history of the Folklore Collection by TAMIU faculty member Dr. Frances Gates Rhodes, another Briggs student.
Briggs, who passed away in 1982, was a member of the founding faculty of both the former A&I at Laredo and LSU for 10 years. Overall, his teaching career spanned 40 years.
Organizer Dr. Rhodes, who coordinated the initiative in collaboration with the Killam Library as part of its community outreach program, said the event was a fitting opportunity for the many whose lives Briggs influenced to pay homage to the popular late educator.
“Dr. Briggs was always very committed to teaching, and some of his favorite areas of focus were children's literature, Shakespeare, bilingual education, folklore, and linguistics. He also enjoyed interacting with his students, including at parties that he and Mrs. Briggs held at their home,” Rhodes recalled.
Briggs’ legacy at the University has lasting testaments. Many of his students have gone on to become top educators, administrators, academicians and writers. Many, like Rhodes, followed in her mentor’s footsteps. She now teaches classes at TAMIU that Briggs himself initiated.
“He was someone who had great wisdom, great passion for his profession and a great heart for his students, “ Rhodes recalled, “he was an inspirational role model for us all.”
Jeanette Hatcher, TAMIU Reference/Special Collections librarian, said the Briggs Collection is planned to grow and currently includes student projects that focus on Folklore, Family Trees and Languages.
“The Folklore projects include short papers, oral history interviews, photographs, examples or illustrations. Family Trees projects include beginning genealogies of student families that incorporate family stories. Language projects focus on misuse or different use of language in society. All have tremendous potential to encourage and inform additional research,” Hatcher explained.
Briggs, originally from Nebraska, earned his BS in education at Central Missouri State University and undertook graduate studies at Baylor University and Indiana University, Bloomington, where he would earn his Ph.D. in English in 1954.
He met his future wife, Mary Ruth Garrett of Marlin, while she was a teacher in Conroe, Texas, and the couple was married in 1940.
At the Dedication
The couple had four children and four grandchildren: Jan Welch, of Canyon, (grandson Carl Welch, of Canyon); twins daughter Marylyn Senechalle, of Perkiomenville, PA, (daughter Matina Matasci, of Leipzig, Germany); son Garrett Briggs, of Abilene, (grandson Nathan Briggs, of Waco, and granddaughter Caris Thetford, of Stephenville) and son Jim Briggs, of Austin. His four adult children and granddaughter Thetford were present for event.
Prior to his service to then-A&I at Laredo and LSU, Briggs held faculty positions at Sul Ross State University and the University of South Florida. A Fulbright Scholar, he also taught at Greece’s National Polytechnic University and the Graduate School of Economics.
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