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Helen Hargrave

Helen Hargrave (1894-1985) moved from Bay City, Michigan to live with her sister and brother-in-law in Austin in the early 1920s. In 1922, she enrolled at the University of Texas in both the Department of Education and the Law School. As a student, she was a member of the editorial board of the Texas Law Review,a member of Kappa Beta Pi, Mortar Board, and Cap and Gown honor societies, and a member of Pi Beta Phi social sorority. Completing the requirements for both degrees in three and a half years, Hargrave graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1926.

Helen Hargrave
Photo of Helen Hargrave, undated

In 1930, she became an assistant law librarian with the University of Texas. After studying law librarianship at Columbia University in 1939, she returned to the University of Texas School of Law as head librarian. Hargrave played a vital role in developing the collection at the law library, more than tripling its holdings. During her tenure, she studied law library architecture and interior arrangements, contributing substantially to the design of Tarlton Law Library when Townes Hall was built in 1953.

Hargrave was known for her involvement with students. She taught courses on legal research and writing as well as assisting with the Student Research Board and the Law School Legal Aid Clinic. Hargrave published and distributed a newsletter to former and current students enlisted in the military during World War II. The newsletters contained messages of encouragement, news from other enlisted University of Texas law students and graduates, and reports on University of Texas School of Law faculty members.

In 1971, Hargrave retired from the University of Texas. In addition to her accomplishments with the law school, Hargrave was the first Texan to be elected president of the American Association of Law Libraries, a member of the State Bar of Texas, a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, and a member of the City of Austin Library Commission. In 1979, Hargrave became the first woman to receive the University of Texas School of Law Distinguished Alumnus Award.