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The University of Texas at Austin


In Memoriam

Molly Ivins, 1944–2007

Contact: Ramona Kelly, Associate Director
Center for American History
Phone: (512) 825-5632
Fax: (512) 475-9468

Date: February 2, 2007

Portrait of Molly Ivins

The Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin pays tribute to Molly Ivins, nationally syndicated political columnist, author, and lecturer who focused her attention on the Texas Legislature and state politics, United States government, national politics, and social issues.

Ivins was born Mary Tyler Ivins in 1944 in Monterrey, California, to Margaret and James E. Ivins, and grew up in Houston. She earned a B.A. degree in history from Smith College (1966) and an M.A. degree in journalism from Columbia University (1967). Ivins then worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle (1967), Minneapolis Tribune (1967–1970), New York Times (1976–1977), and the New York Times Rocky Mountain Bureau (1977–1980). She was co-editor of the Texas Observer (1971–1976) and columnist for the Dallas Times Herald (1982–1991), Fort Worth Star-Telegram (from 1992), The Progressive, and Ms. She also contributed articles and interviews to radio and television news and editorial programs. In 1996 Ivins became a commentator for "60 Minutes." She authored articles in numerous magazines and books including:

  • Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? (1991)
  • Nothin' But Good Times Ahead (1993)
  • You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You: Politics in the Clinton Years (1998)
  • Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (2000)
  • The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President (2001)

She also co-authored two book with Lou Dubose:

  • Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America (2003)
  • Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I Have Known (2004)

Ivins donated her papers to the archives of the Center for American History in 1993 and continued to make additions to her collection during the course of her work.

The Ivins Papers enhance the Center's holdings from the post World War II era and are a valuable tool for researchers seeking commentary by an astute observer and journalist on contemporary political and cultural events.

"With the passing of Molly Ivins, the cause of social and political justice in this country has lost one of its most articulate advocates," stated Dr. Don Carleton, director of the Center for American History. "I am grateful that Molly understood the importance of preserving the records of our time and that she chose the Center as the permanent archive for her papers. Typical of Molly, when she placed her papers at the Center, she stressed that this was not to be a monument to her life, but instead was to serve as a working resource for those in the future seeking to understand the issues in which she had been so involved as a progressive journalist."

The collection contains correspondence, literary productions, printed material, legal documents, photographs, sound recordings, and video productions. The bulk of the professional correspondence documents public response to Ivins' commentary about First Amendment rights, gun control, health care, abortion, gays in the military, Waco Branch Davidians, the Persian Gulf War, and the war in Iraq. Printed materials include programs and invitations for events in which Ivins participated. Literary works include Ivins' columns from the Dallas Times Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Progressive, and Ms., as well as drafts and proofs of her books. Ivins' research files, organized by subject, are part of her papers.

Molly Ivins' personal papers contain correspondence with her friends, notably John Henry Faulk, Bernard Rapoport, J.R. Parten, Ann Richards, and Frances Farenthold, whose papers are also held in the Center's archives. In addition, there is a wealth of biographical information about Ivins herself.

Ann Richards called Ivins "a Texas treasure."

Molly Ivins was a participant in the Center's inaugural John Henry Faulk Conference on First Amendment Rights in 1992.

Molly Ivins died January 31, 2007, following a lengthy battle with cancer.

A guide to the Molly Ivins' Papers is available online at