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Mary Elizabeth Tinsley Texas History Center

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Mary Elizabeth Tinsley 1921–2014

Mary Elizabeth Tinsley (1921–2014) came naturally to her love of books and history. As a child in Gonzales, she explored her grandparents’ substantial personal library and witnessed her grandfather’s enthusiasm for literature and verse. Her family spoke casually of previous generations, immigrants in the colonies of New England, and she learned to respect and preserve the documents and keepsakes passed down from her forebears. She married into a family with strong ties to Green DeWitt’s colony, early Gonzales, and the Texas Revolution. History and especially her personal connection to it were important factors in her life.

As her children became more independent, she began to accept more volunteer work outside her home. Already an active member of the First Methodist Church, she became an important supporter of the Thrift Shop, later the Gonzales Christian Assistance Ministry (GCAM). She donated numerous hours to help at local nursing homes, and she began to assist the librarian at the Gonzales Library. The Gonzales Chamber of Commerce cited her as the 1973 Citizen of the Year for Civic Work, acknowledging her efforts in cultural and historical advancement.

In 1975, she became a member of the Gonzales Library Board and served in various capacities there until 1996. In addition to her Board responsibilities, most of her afternoons were spent as a volunteer at the library. She oversaw the microfilming of Gonzales Inquirer editions published from 1853-1931. She was especially proud of her leadership in the construction of the new library addition on St. Matthew Street dedicated in 1983, and of her work in preparing the library’s holdings for the move. The latter effort involved months of volunteer afternoons in which she reviewed each item in the library, assigned it a call number, and typed three catalog cards (title, subject, and author) for each.

She would be so pleased to see the Robert Lee Brothers, Jr. Memorial Library and to know that the Mary Elizabeth Tinsley Texas History Center, which now houses the second largest collection of Texas history books in the state, is a part of it.

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