Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2001 Newsletter

The Prothros and the Ransom Center: An Enduring Legacy

Thomas F. Staley, Elizabeth Edwards, Charles Prothro and Elizabeth Perkins Prothro, Ransom Center, 1998.

Thomas F. Staley, Elizabeth Edwards, Charles
Prothro and Elizabeth Perkins Prothro,
Ransom Center, 1998.

Recently, I spoke with Elizabeth Edwards, who is the Prothro's granddaughter and an Advisory Council member, about her family's generous gifts to the Ransom Center and the history of their relationship to the Center. An excerpt follows.

— Sheree Scarborough

My grandfather, Charles Prothro, went to The University of Texas in the 1930s. I believe that Harry Ransom was one of his teachers. I don't know how he and Tom Staley got connected, but I know that they developed a really quick rapport with each other. And the stories that I've heard from both of them are that my grandfather would call Tom—or Tom would call my grandfather—either way just to chat—and my grandfather would say, "Tom, what do you need? What can we do for you?" And that's how that relationship developed over the years. Tom and my grandfather developed this rapport, and with my grandfather's love of The University of Texas, it was just a natural place for him to be connected. He saw a need with the Ransom Center and felt like he could be of some help.

My grandmother, Elizabeth Prothro, whom I am named for, is a factor in it in that she is the one who loves books and has collected bibles for many years. She collected rare bibles, one-of-a-kind bibles, first translations, and things of that nature. She also spent some time learning how to restore and bind. Her collection of bibles is at Bridwell Library at SMU. But they were also looking for a home for her photographs and they will come to the Ransom Center. She has been an amateur photographer for years, mostly a nature photographer, and has had some of her work published, I believe. Today, September 7, is her eighty-second birthday.

I'll tell you a story that recently came to mind. I have a six-year-old daughter, Lara, and she's just learning to read. Both of my grandmothers were instrumental in that part of my life. When I was nine, my grandmother Prothro took me to Sweet Briar College in Virginia, which is where I eventually went to college. She sent me to the bookstore, and said I could buy any book I wanted. That was the most fabulous thing that had ever happened in the whole world. It was wonderful to have the freedom to pick out a book. I found this beautiful copy of Little Women. It was beautifully illustrated. I can remember reading that entire book as quickly as I could. She spurred my reading interest on. My daughter and I were talking about that story the other day, so it just came back to my memory.

— Elizabeth Edwards


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