Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Unpublished O’Keeffe letters unveiled at the Cornette Library

What can we learn from a letter?
Jo Early
Artist Georgia O’Keeffe met Ted Reid during her time in Canyon.

The Friends of the Cornette Library hosted an event on Nov. 15 where the library displayed six unpublished personal letters penned by artist Georgia O’Keeffe. From 1916 to 1918, O’Keeffe taught at West Texas State Normal College where she met then-student Ted Reid, the recipient of four letters and a romantic interest of the artist. Marcelete Reid Dana – Reid’s daughter with his wife, Ruby – received the other two.

Reid’s granddaughter, Jan Minton, brought three suitcases of O’Keeffe-related memorabilia including the letters to Dr. Amy Von Lintel, professor of art history, director of gender studies and an expert on O’Keeffe’s time in Texas. Von Lintel gave a presentation about the letters at the event.

“What can we learn from a letter?” Von Lintel said. “Well, before we even get to the letter, let’s look at the envelopes. And what’s lovely about this is not only were the letters lovingly preserved but the envelopes with the postage marks. That is like a historical treasure trove.”

Von Lintel worked with the staff of the Cornette Library to decipher O’Keeffe’s handwriting. The postmark shows that O’Keeffe mailed the first of the letters to Reid in May of 1946 from New York.

“What she’s saying, ‘seeing you was very good. I must see you again to tell you how good.’ That’s loaded, right?” Von Lintel said. “I don’t know what it means. It could mean romance; it could mean friendship.”

Nov. 15 – the event date – was also O’Keeffe’s birthday. The artist was born on Nov. 15, 1887, and passed away in 1986. The event also marked the day that the Friends of the Cornette Library welcomed a new Chairperson.

“I have set a goal for myself to at least get to 50 memberships to raise our membership,” Renea Dauntes, the incoming chairperson, said. “And in turn, be able to find more things for the library that they need. And if I hit 100, then I’ll be very happy, but 50 is my baseline goal. That’s really cool because, for students, we have memberships that start at $10 for a year.”

Dr. Joanna Kimbell, clinical assistant professor of business law and management and outgoing chairperson, said that the past five years as chairperson of the Friends of the Cornette Library have been “a huge honor.”

“And I’m really proud of some of the things we were able to accomplish, like these walls here in the gallery, getting those in the same color, in the same material,” Kimbell said. “That was a huge thing to get done. Updating the bylaws, starting a scholarship for library staff members who are pursuing a master’s in library science. These have all been initiatives that we wanted to drive forward. But now we’re very focused on what can we do through our fundraising to get resources for the library, and I’m excited to see what Renea is going to do.”

The letters are in a locked display case in the Cornette Library, and a display with historical pictures of O’Keeffe and Reid as well as information about their lives will stand in the Texas Poets’ Corner on the second floor. For more information about the Friends of the Cornette Library, see their page on the West Texas A&M University website.

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About the Contributor
Jo Early
Jo Early, Editor-in-Chief
Hello, my name is Jo Early and I am a senior digital communication & media major from Amarillo. I transferred from Amarillo College in Spring 2023 and began working as editor-in-chief in Fall 2023. I want to inform the West Texas A&M Community and spotlight student resources. In the future, I hope to work for NPR.

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    Amy Von LintelNov 16, 2023 at 7:06 pm

    What a great article covering this event. Well done!