African American Library at the Gregory School

Willie Lee Gay Collection MSS.0006

An Inventory of her Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library

CreatorGay, Willie Lee, Mrs.
Title: Willie Lee Gay Collection
Dates: 1897-2009
Identification: MSS.0006
Quantity: 2.0 Linear feet
LanguageMaterials are in English.
Repository: African American Library at the Gregory School

Biographical note

A Texas historian for the past 30 years, Willie Lee Gay has been a vocal advocate and teacher for documenting the history of African American communities in Texas. In 1976, Gay made a concerted effort to save the historic Covington House in Third Ward from destruction. Dr. Benjamin Covington, a prominent African American doctor of the early 1900s, hosted such luminaries as Booker T. Washington and singer Marian Anderson at his home. Despite her efforts the historic structure was destroyed in the interests of redevelopment. She would use this experience as motivation to preserve other historic properties, determined never to let this happen again.

As a history teacher in Houston, she was never content to teach strictly from a textbook. Her teaching style incorporated an interdisciplinary approach, where students would conduct site visits, demonstrations, and hands-on research that involved students proactively. Her philosophy was to instill a passion for history and to make it real and relevant for her students. She founded the Junior Historian Club at the Carter G. Woodson Junior High School. Besides teaching, she became actively involved in many organizations that were dedicated to preserving history, such as the Harris County Heritage Society, the Harris County Historical Commission, and the Houston Preservation Alliance.

Her working relationship with former Governor Ann Richards led to her appointment as the first African American Commissioner of the Texas Historical Commission (1991-1997), where she dealt with historic preservation issues on a state-wide level. Ms. Gay currently continues her work of historic preservation in Houston and has contributed many entries on African Americans in the Handbook of Texas, a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history.

The Willie Lee Gay Collection includes newsclippings, publications, photos, research materials, programs, and organizations that highlight her work as a historian in documenting and preserving the history of African American communities.

Scope and Content

The Willie Lee Gay Collection includes newsclippings, publications, photos, research materials, programs, and organizations that highlight her work as a historian in documenting and preserving the history of African American communities.

Arrangement note

This collection is arranged by subject.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Willie Lee Gay Collection must be obtained from African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Gay, Willie Lee, Mrs
Gay, Willie Lee, Mrs
African American women
African American women--Texas--Houston
African Americans
Historic preservation—Texas—Houston
National Association of Colored Women
Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
Riverside General Hospital
Texas Retired Teachers Association

Related Collections

(HMRC) MSS 0109 Christia V. Adair Collection

(HMRC) MSS 1021 Willie Lee Gay Collection

(HMRC) MSS 1041 Willie Lee Gay and Carter G. Woodson Junior Historian #244 Collection

(HMRC) MSS 0452 Thelma Scott Bryant and Ira B. Bryant Papers

(HMRC) MSS 0370 Olee Yates McCullough Papers

(HMRC) MSS 1002 Rodney Ellis

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Willie Lee Gay Collection. MSS 0006. The African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Willie Lee Gay

Processing Information

Processed By: Vince Lee, October 2009

Digitized Materials

A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the Houston Area Digital Archives. Please view the digitized material at:

Detailed Description of the Collection

General Correspondence

From: Ruthe Winegarten To: Mrs. Willie Lee Gay and Dr. Louis Marchifava 1992
From: Tom Bass To: Mrs. Willie Gay and Historian Club of Woodson 1977
From: Louise C. Williams To: Mrs. Willie Lee Gay 1990
From: Gladys House To: Minister Robert Robertson 1996
From: Rev. R.O. Roberston, Jr. and Willie Lee Gay To: Rev. William Lawson 1996
Letter from Eddie Jonson to Willie Lee Gay August 4, 1997

Research Materials

12Research Notes
Research notes composed by Willie Lee Gay ND
Prof. E.O. Smith ND
Elonora Teal 1968
J. Vance Lewis, Texas Trilablazer ND
Isaiah M. Terrell ND
They Showed the Way- An Exhibition of Black Texas Women 1836-1986 by Museum of African American Life and Culture – Dallas, Texas, copy 39 of 300 ND
A Tribute to Houston Blacks Past and Present by The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History 1975


Obituary: Mrs. Blanche Douglass 2008
Obituary: Vivian Hubbard Seals 2009
News-clipping, Christia Adair ND
What’s First Black School Here? Houston Post 1976
News-clipping, Church Women Attend Meet 1950
News-clipping, Road Once Traveled by Marjorie Evans Houston Chronicle 2001
News-clipping, Memorial Day Stirs up Memories of Houston’s Camp Logan Riot ND
News-clipping, Junior Historians Were First to Chronicle Christia Adair’s Life by Ellen Bernstein, Corpus Christi Caller Times 1999
News-clipping, A Visit with Mrs. Christia V. Adair 1985
News-clipping 1972
News-clipping, Women Key to Many City Advances, Speaker Says by Emily Grotta 1970
News-clipping ND
News-clipping 2003
Obituary, Charles Johnson, Houston Chronicle 2002
Obituary, Helen Jean Rogers Edwards, Houston Chronicle ND
Obituary, Odessa Sayles, Houston Chronicle 2008
News-clipping, Seeking That Spark of Youth by Salatheia Bryant, Houston Chronicle ND
Obituary, Minnie Turner Metters, Houston Post 1990
News-clipping 2007
Obituary, Christia Adair ND
News-clipping, Many Festivities Dot Yates’ Calendar by Vicki Bomke Thomson, Houston Chronicle 1996
News-clipping, Fitch is the Oldest Black Florist in Houston by Susan Bischoff, Houston Chronicle 1979
Photocopy, Cemetery Gets Historic Marker by Betty L. Martin 2008
Photocopy, 2003 History Day, The Newsletter of the Texas State Historical Association Summer 2003
Obituary, Alice M. Sidney 2005
Obituary, Gideon L. Sanders Sr., teacher, gospel musician, Houston Chronicle 2003
Obituary, W.L.D. Johnson Jr., Houston Post 1989
Newsclipping, Tour tells of history of Second Ward area by Danny Perez, Houston Chronicle 2001
Newsclipping, Feds help investigate fire by S.K. Bardwell and Ron Nissimov, Houston Chronicle 1997
Newsclipping, Group to restore black cemetery by Arlene Nisson Lassin, Houston Chronicle 2007
Obituary, Lullelia Walker Harrison 2005
Newsclipping, Barbara Jordan still has her hold on us by Ken Wall, Houston Chronicle 1988
Newsclipping, At 103, HISD retiree still ‘igniting a fire’ by Allan Turner, Houston Chronicle ND
Obituary, Hazel Hainsworth Young, Houston Chronicle 2009
Obituary, Dr. Ira Bryant, Houston Post 1989
Obituary, Mrs. Ella Robey Holliday 2005
Obituary, Dr. William B. Harrell, Houston Chronicle ND
Obituary, Leonard Hall O’Connell Spearman, Sr., Houston Chronicle, 2008 Obituary, Elizabeth Spates 1999
Newsclipping, Area woman receives Black History award by Tangela Bradshaw, Houston 1995
Newsclipping, Longtime lawyer led local battles for civil rights by Salatheia Bryant 2007
Newsclipping, Houston’s 1915 ‘Red Book’ idealized world of blacks by Claudia Kolker, Houston Chronicle 1997
Newsclipping, Cemetery Work teaches youths history, respect by Lori Rodriguez, Houston Chronicle 1997
Newsclipping, Bus tour highlights famed sites by Claudia Kolker, Houston Chronicle 1997


14Greeting Cards & Invitations for Ms. Willie Lee Gay
International Holiday Luncheon 2008
Joseph James Rhoads Elementary School Golden Anniversary 2008
From: Jet, Robert, and Kirby Eckels holiday card ND
From: Christopher W. Oliver holiday card ND
Heritage Society’s 46th Annual Gala 2003


15Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
125th Church Anniversary Membership Loyalty and Homecoming Celebration, 1990 [original destroyed by mold and water damage - photocopied and destroyed]
16Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Greater Zion Baptist Church 3202 Trulley Houston, Texas, history booklet ND
17Baptist Sisterhood of Houston
35th Annual Lois Allen Awards Luncheon 2008
Annual Lois Allen Awards Luncheon 2002


The Houston Review, VOL. XVI, NO. 2 1994
The Medallion January/February 2006
Houston History, Volume 6, Number 1 Fall 2008
110Texas Historian
Texas Historian, Volume XLII, Number 1 1981
Texas Historian, Volume xxxiii, Number 5 1973
111National Notes
National Notes, convention issue [autographed copy] Summer, 1964
National Notes spring-summer, 1967
National Notes March, 2001

Funeral Programs

115Funeral Programs
Dr. Ira Babington Bryant, October 18, 1904 December 16, 1989
Funeral Automobile List, Fairchild Undertaking Company, Houston, Texas 1936
Mrs. J.W. Frazier, Wesley Methodist Church June 21, 1962
Sarah Frances Stancil, born 1853 April 15, 1950
Pastor Clarence George Wilkins October 23, 1955 September 27, 2000
Alvin Leslie Sykes, September 14, 1940 September 17, 2006
Mrs. Olee Yates McCullough December 30, 1996
Mrs. Marie Scott Platte ND
Thelma Scott Bryant, September 26, 1905 September 15, 2008
Vivian H. Seals, June 8, 1917 June 21, 2008
Deacon James M. Thomas February 26, 1994
Reverend W.D. Watkins, January 19, 1899 February 1991
112Ira Bryant
Bryant, Ira Babington (I.B.), JR. [by Willie Lee Gay], biography ND
Vocational Education in Negro High Schools in Texas by Ira B. Bryant, Reprinted from The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. XVIII, No.1 1949

Christia Adair Materials

1Christia Adair Article
On the Firing Line for Human Rights by Jackie Swindle and Donna Bearden, The Texas Sampler ND
117Correspondence to Ms. Adair
To: Rodney Ellis, From: Vincent J. Mandola 1986
To: Mrs. Adair, From: Mary Ann Bass 1984
118Certificates-Christia Adair
1st Central Jurisdictional Conference Methodist Church 1940
The Board of Education of the Methodist Church, Teaching Adults (412b) 1945
Chicago Training School affiliated with Garrett Biblical Institute registration card 1943
Department of Leadership Education 1946
The Program of Leadership Education, Adult Classes at Work (410a)1 1944
The Program of Leadership Education, Teaching Adults 412b 1945
The Program of Leadership Education, How to Teach in the Church School (141a)1 1944
Instructor’s Certificate, Toward A Christian World Community 1949
The Standard Leadership Curriculum 1939
Certificate of Appreciation, Grand Juror of Harris County, Texas 1967
119Christia Adair Letters
20Elbert Hezekiah Adair
Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Ry. Co., No. 5894 1935
Texas Drivers License Certificate, Operator 1205558 1942
Permanent Certificate of Exemption from Poll Tax, No. 2002, Harris County, Texas 1943
Air Brake Clearance Card, Form 1184 Standard Santa Fe 1941
Christmas Letter To: E. H. Adair, From: L.W. Baldwin 1943
Letter To: E.H. Adair, From: A.W. Edwards 1920


121Harris County Precinct Report
Harris County Commissioner Tom Bass Report, Parks Edition 1983-1984
Greetings card ND
Business card, Miss Gertrude Matthews ND
Business card, Ben G. McCollough, 241 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA ND
Orange Blossom Suppositories article by Dr. J.A.McGill Co. ND
Sheri-Lee Fashion Wig order form and business card ND
Obituary card for Mary Martin 1897


21MSS 0006.001 - MSS 0006.035
MSS 0006.001-Women's Auxilary to the Houston Medical Forum notice ND
MSS 0006.002-The Pilgrim Temple, Houston, Texas ND
MSS 0006.003-Group Photo (unidentified and undated) ND
MSS 0006.004-James S. Kyle and Emma Scott Kyle ND
MSS 0006.005-Pastor and Deacons – Antioch Baptist Church 1939
MSS 0006.006-J.B. Bell’s Residence ND
MSS 0006.007-Thelma Patten Law and Rosie Mosley ND
MSS 0006.008-Christia Adair with Commissioner Tom Bass ND
MSS 0006.009-YWCA 1939
MSS 0006.010-Marching Band Booker T. Washington (Teal Studio) ND
MSS 0006.011-Colored Carnegie Library Dedication 1912
MSS 0006.012-I.M. Terrell ND
MSS 0006.013-Home of Hazel Hainsworth Young ND
MSS 0006.014-Colored Carnegie Library Board 1910
MSS 0006.015-School Yard Exercise ND
MSS 0006.016-Foley’s Participates in TSU’s Workshop 1967
MSS 0006.017-Fitch’s Florist 1934
MSS 0006.018-Fitch Florist ND
MSS 0006.019-Photo Postcard addressed to Christia Daniels ND
MSS 0006.020-Unidentified Young Woman ND
MSS 0006.021-Home at Kingsville ND
MSS 0006.022-Handy Daniels ND
MSS 0006.023-Robinson Family of Edna, Texas ND
MSS 0006.024-Commissioner Tom Bass with Christia Adair ND
MSS 0006.025-Christia Adair (Front Center) 1929
MSS 0006.026-Mrs. Pearl Fitch ND
MSS 0006.027-Mrs. Pearl Fitch ND
MSS 0006.028-Fitch’s Flower Shop ND
MSS 0026.029-Street Car/Trolley (San Francisco stamp on back) ND
MSS 0006.030-Booker T. Washington Colored H.S. ND
MSS 0006.031-Group Photo (unidentified and undated) ND
MSS 0006.032-Memorial-Mrs. E. Spriggs Ratliff (property-Christia Adair) 1935
MSS 0006.033-Mrs. Vivian Hubbard Seals ND
MSS 0006.034-Mrs. Vivian Hubbard Seals 2001
MSS 0006.035-Home of Christia Adair ND
22MSS 0006.036 - MSS 0006.059
MSS 0006.036-Negative-Mrs. Pearl Fitch ND
MSS 0006.037-Negative-Louise Martin-Photographer (Studio was on Wichita St.-3rd Ward) ND
MSS 0006.038-Father of Christia Adair with uncle (hat) ND
MSS 0006.039-Walte and Cora Sapente House, snowfall ND
MSS 0006.040-Unidentified Woman ND
MSS 0006.041-Mrs. Lillian Miles Murphy ND
MSS 0006.042-Mother of Christia Adair ND
MSS 0006.043-Webster Daniels ND
MSS 0006.044-Cousin of Christia Adair ND
MSS 0006.045-Christia Adair ND
MSS 0006.046-Christia Adair with junior historian 1974
MSS 0006.047-Unidentified Woman and Child ND
MSS 0006.048-Unidentified Couple [14 ½ East Main Street-Springfield, Ohio] ND
MSS 0006.049-Cousin to Christia Adair’s Grandfather ND
MSS 0006.050-Christia Adair Group Photo ND
MSS 0006.051-Ma Robinson – Edna, Texas ND
MSS 0006.052-Harriet Daniels Christia Adair’s father’s stepmother ND
MSS 0006.053-Uncle to Christia Adair ND
MSS 0006.054-Mr. and Mrs. James B. Moore ND
MSS 0006.055-Ladies Symphony Orchestra ND
MSS 0006.056-Art Club Dinner Group [1908] 1963
MSS 0006.057-Mrs. Olee Yates McCullough ND
MSS 0006.058-Conrad Johnson @ Mt. Moriah Baptist Church 2005
MSS 0006.059-Music Concert honoring Conrad Johnson 2005


23Texas Retired Teachers Association Yearbook
Houston Harris County Retired Teachers Association yearbook 2006-2007
24National Association of Colored Women
National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs Inc. 70 Golden Years, yearbook 1966
25Constitution/Bylaws-Texas Association of Womens Clubs
Texas Association of Women’s Clubs Constitution and By-Laws (revised) 1961
113Riverside General Hospital
60 Years of Serving Our Community – The Houston Negro Hospital renamed – Riverside General Hospital 1926 through 1986 ND
114Prairie Grove Cemetery
The History of Prairie Grove Cemetery pamphlet ND
An Application for an Official Texas Historical Marker for Prairie Cemetery, by Debra Blacklock-Sloan 2006
Historic Texas Cemetery Marker Dedication 2008


26Events programs
Dedication Ceremony for the Recorded Texas Historic Landmarker of the Rutherford B.H Yates Sr. House/Museum 2001
Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society, Inc. Willie Lee Gay H-Town Chapter notice 2009
Status of Women Observance Excellence in Achievement Nurses booklet 1997
The Lion Jack Yates High School Fiftieth Anniversary Yearbook 2006
74th Annual Convention of the Texas Association of Women’s and Girl’s Clubs, Inc. 1979
Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, Annual Meeting 2001
27Events Programs
Boone’s Music Studio presents Elnor Jackson-Boone 2004
Dedication of Fiest Elementary School 1989
The Annual Banquet Howard University Alumni Federation 1966
University Honors First African American THC Commissioner, The Medallion 2003
National Women of Achievement, Inc. Annual Status of Women 1991
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Sixteenth Annual Status of Women Observance Luncheon 1996
Ninth Biennial Dickie Foster Texas Black Women’s Conference 1992
Founders Day Ethel Ransom Art & Literary Club 1979
Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated, 1995 Status of Women Observance 1995
Celebratory Program of Mrs. Falbia S. Turner on her 100th Birthday 2005
First Annual Texas Conference on Black History and Culture 1979


Oversized Degree-Prairie View State to Ethel Colia Ellison ND
Framed Inspirational Sayings-Friend ND
Framed Inspirational Sayings-Common Sense ND
Knitted hat and dress ND
Mothers Calendar ND
DVD-Representative Boris L. Miles January 9, 2007
DVD-Dr. Charles Hebert Jr ND
Teacup and saucer with assorted spoons ND