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The University of Texas at Austin

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The Texas Book – Introduction

In 1881 the state of Texas founded The University of Texas. The fledgling institution opened its doors to the newly arrived students in 1883 — the actual doors being those of the forlorn west wing of the otherwise not-yet-built Main Building, which stood on an otherwise barren hill several blocks north of the new state Capitol. At that time Texas was still largely a frontier state caught in the throes of Reconstruction, but the new state constitution of 1876 had charged the University's regents with the task of creating "a university of the first class." Today, 125 years after its founding, The University of Texas ranks by most measures of excellence as a worldwide success.

The journey of Texas' flagship university from its modest and

Tower drawing

Working drawing of the upper portion of the Tower. (University of Texas Buildings Collection, Comm. 282, sh. 100, Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.)

unsure beginnings in the 1880s to its place today among the world's great institutions of higher learning is as complex and fascinating as Texas itself.

Published by the University of Texas Press in the Center for American History's Focus on American History series, The Texas Book: Profiles, History, and Reminiscences of the University (2006) is a collection of twenty-five essays that illustrates this journey to prominence through the words of twenty-two alumni and former and current faculty and staff of the University. Not a chronological history, The Texas Book provides the reader vignettes of many well known, and some not-as-well known, people and events from the University's history that have made it what it is today.

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