A Guide to the Cousins (Robert Bartow, Sr.) Papers, 1861, 1894-1933
Robert Bartow Cousins (1861-1932), named by his Confederate Army surgeon father for Gen. Francis Bartow, lived in near-poverty for most of his childhood. His family’s farm in Fayetteville, Georgia lay in the path of William Sherman’s March to the Sea. His mother taught an informal school in their backyard for her son and many of the local area children.
Cousins decided early on to become a teacher. He attended the University of George and later studied law in a Florida attorney’s office, passing the bar in Atlanta. He soon moved to Longview, Texas. He served as the Mineola and Mexia school superintendent, gaining a statewide reputation as an effective administrator. He served as president of the Texas State Teachers Association and also served as an assistant to John L. Wortham in the business office of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
Cousins became the state superintendent in 1904 and pushed through a number of educational reforms, including state accreditation, public school taxes, and upgraded standards for teachers. He resigned from this position in 191 when offered the position of president as West Texas State Normal College (now West Texas State University). Cousins had helped to establish this school and as president, he selected the faculty and crafted the school’s standards. Cousins also began the tradition of the handing down a gold ring, the presidential ring, when he resigned in 1918.
After leaving West Texas State, Cousins entered into business in Longview, Texas, where he stayed for three years. He then moved to Houston to become the superintendent of the public schools there and once gain pushed through educational reform. In 1924, he moved to Kingsville as president of South Texas Teachers College (now Texas A &M University at Kingsville). He received an LL.D. from Southwestern University at Georgetown after taking leave and doing graduate work at the University of Chicago. He returned to South Texas State College in 1929 and reorganized so that it could seek more financial support; he renamed it the Texas College of Arts and Industries. He died in 1932 of influenza.
Anderson, H. Allen. “Cousins, Robert Bartow.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed May 27, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fco82.
The Robert Bartow Cousins, Sr. Papers, 1861, 1894-1933, contain correspondence, speeches, literary efforts, financial papers, legal documents, photographs, and clippings concerning the career of Robert Cousins. Papers relate to the history of education in Texas (1894-1832) and include a biography of Cousins by his daughter Edith Cousins, and a Civil War letter from Isaac W. Cousins to his wife (1861).
This collection is open for research use.
Robert Bartow Cousins, Sr. Papers, 1861, 1894-1933, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers