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Susan H. Reid collection on Leonard "Deacon" Wright and Eleanor Roosevelt letters

Identifier: 2009-001

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of materials compiled by Susan Houston Reid about Leonard “Deacon” Wright’s firing from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1954 and the controversy surrounding the event. A memoir written by Reid provides an overview of the event, supported by (primarily photocopies of) letters concerning Wright’s dismissal, as well as clippings, supporting published secondary material, and an audio interview with Wright’s son, Bob.

Also included in the donation are letters from Eleanor Roosevelt to Ralph Houston regarding her visit to deliver a speech to the college in 1957.

Materials are grouped into three series and remain in the original order as received.


  • circa 1950s-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction. Materials in this collection were previously restricted by the donor until 2014, or until death of Jack C. Wright.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. To the extent that they own copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in their works to the Special Collections and Archives; however, copyright in some items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

Biographic note - Leonard “Deacon” Wright

Leonard “Deacon” N. Wright was born 1898 October 26 in Callaway County, Missouri. He married Elizabeth N. Coil and had two sons, Jack and Bob. He taught school in Missouri before moving to San Marcos, Texas to teach at Southwest Texas State Techers College in 1925. In 1939 he completed his doctorate in English at the University of Texas, and was later appointed chairman of the English Department in 1945. After leaving SWTSTC in 1954, he taught high school English in the Premont Independent School District for two years. He then moved on to Defiance College in Ohio, leaving there to teach at Arkansas A&M where he was made chairman of the English Department before retiring in 1971 as Professor Emeritus. Wright and his wife Elizabeth retired to Victoria, Texas to be near their son Bob and family. Wright passed away at age 76 on 1975 April 15 in Victoria, Texas where he is also buried.

In additional to his teaching duties, Wright was the faculty sponsor for the College Star and the Pedagog, wrote scripts for the annual water pageant, scripted presentation ceremonies for Homecoming college sweethearts, and supported the College Players productions. He was active in state and national professional organizations, was a Milton scholar, and was smart and quick and witty. Wright was well known in San Marcos as he was involved in local organizations and often emceed public events such as football game and track meets.

Source: Susan H. Reid

Biographic note - Susan Houston Reid

Susan Houston Reid is the daughter of Dr. Ralph H. Houston, who during his 40-year teaching career (1937-1978) at SWT served as the Chair of the English Department (1959-1965) and then as the Dean of the newly organized School of Liberal and Fine Arts (1965-1969). Houston was named Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus by the Board of Regents in 1979.

Reid mentions in her unpublished memoir that Leonard and Elizabeth Wright were their next-door neighbors and her parents' closest friends. She observed the events that took place in 1954 as a child, and spoke to her father about the events surrounding Wright's dismissal several decades afterwards.

Her interest in the Wright incident led her to seek out copies of correspondence and other documentation to add to the materials held by her father. She donated these materials to the University Archives in 2009.

Source: Susan Houston Reid

Historical note: Dismissal of Leonard "Deacon" Wright

Wright, an English professor who was an active and engaged member of both the campus and local community, enjoyed writing humorous and pun-filled pieces to entertain friends. His talent for satire became a political issue for the college when he wrote a mock article about a recent luncheon for women supporters of Texas Governor Shivers, who was coming up for re-election in a few months. After delivering the mock article anonymously to some friends, one of them gave a copy to Governor Shivers at a rally that evening.

The unsigned article was soon attributed to Wright, and college president John G. Flowers began receiving calls from irate citizens. Dr. Flowers attempted to navigate the issue by advising Wright to leave for his vacation a few days early, hoping tempers would calm in the next few days. When Governor Shivers decried the attack as the "filthiest, slimiest piece of campaign propaganda I have ever seen," the Board met with Dr. Flowers and the decision was made to advise Leonard to resign via telegraph. When Wright did not send a letter of resignation, Dr. Flowers sent a letter to Wright informing him that he had been dismissed under Rule 30, Section 2 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents for "conduct unbecoming to the profession."


.41 Linear Feet (One Hollinger box and six (6) published books (volumes). Volumes are cataloged separately and are not included in extent. )

Language of Materials



Materials compiled by Susan Houston Reid about Leonard “Deacon” Wright’s firing from Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in 1954. Also included are three letters from Eleanor Roosevelt to Dr. Ralph Houston regarding her visit to campus to deliver a lecture in 1957.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice may be required for use.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice may be required for use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Susan H Reid, 2009 December.

Susan H. Reid collection on Leonard "Deacon" Wright and Eleanor Roosevelt letters
Nicole Critchley
2020 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Revised 2023 by K.Toma

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Alkek Library Room 580
601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA