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Eoff Named Fellow of West Texas Historical Association

April 06, 2011

Dr. Shirley Eoff, a professor of history at Angelo State University, has been named a fellow of the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) in recognition of her numerous contributions to the study and preservation of West Texas history.

Eoff, who joined the ASU history faculty in 1981, received the recognition Saturday (April 2) during WTHA’s annual meeting in Lubbock. Designation as a fellow is the highest academic honor an organization can bestow upon an individual.

Although she is a specialist in British history, she has done extensive research on local and West Texas history projects with a particular interest in San Angelo’s polio epidemic of the 1940s and 1950s and West Texas women’s philanthropy. She has written on the polio epidemic, the San Angelo Army Air Field bombardier school, and San Angelo’s early judicial system and court rulings. She is currently involved in research projects on Billy Anson and the Concho Valley livestock and agricultural industries; Oma Bell Perry, noted Hill Country rancher and philanthropist; and San Angelo’s early social history as reflected in legal disputes.

Eoff is known for assigning her students research projects on local topics, including the origins and uses of buildings along historic Concho Avenue in downtown San Angelo, and working with ASU’s West Texas Collection to develop community history projects.

For instance, she assigned one graduate class in contemporary American history to explore the San Angelo polio epidemic of 1949. The graduate students conducted oral history interviews with doctors and epidemic survivors. Three of the students went on to present their findings at the annual WTHA meeting. The class’s work, which she shared with University of Texas history professor David Oshinsky, was cited in the acknowledgements of Oshinsky’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Polio: An American Story.

A former WTHA president, Eoff joins fellow ASU history professor Arnoldo De León as a WTHA fellow. She earned her B.A. from Howard Payne University, her M.A. from Hardin-Simmons University and her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, all in history.

The WTHA was organized in 1924 in Abilene and every year since has published the WTHA Yearbook and conducted an annual meeting in communities throughout West Texas. WTHA was headquartered at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene until 1996 when the association moved its editorial offices to Texas Tech University. The administrative offices followed in 1998.