Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Now Home to Life’s Work of Murphy Givens, Legendary Local Historian

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Murphy Dale Givens, a respected journalist, author, and historian, dedicated his life’s work to sharing the untold stories of Texas throughout a celebrated 40-year career before his untimely passing in December 2020. Thanks to his family’s gracious donation, Givens’ legendary accounts of local and state history are now housed in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Mary and Jeff Bell Library Special Collections and Archives.

Givens’ collection spans over 50 linear feet, including published columns and news articles, radio program scripts, correspondence with other writers and citizens who asked questions about columns, editorial work, published books, historical post cards, and various indexes of reference files. The time of the research dates from early the 1800s to 2018 and focuses on South Texas history.

“The Island University is honored to have been entrusted with this legacy,” said Dr. Kelly M. Miller, President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “Murphy’s dedication and passion for the history of South Texas will be carried on by all of us who will enjoy his incredible collection for years and years to come.”

A native of Gatesville, Texas, Givens adopted the Corpus Christi community as his home in 1981 after accepting a job with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. During his career at the Caller-Times, Givens worked as a copy editor, columnist, and editorial writer, where he birthed his now iconic weekly South Texas history column which ran from 1998 to 2018. Givens also served as a special radio personality for public broadcast station KEDT, where he enlightened listeners on stories of Corpus Christi with a voice his wife said was suitable for “front porch storytelling and reminiscing.” He wrote and/or edited 18 books, all relating to Texas history, including 14 through Nueces Press, two through the Caller-Times, and two with the Friends of the Corpus Christi Library.

He put his blood, sweat and tears into these papers, and while Murphy was very self-effacing, he took every comment and compliment about his work personally.

Karen Givens (Murphy's Wife)

Jim Moloney, close friend and co-author to many of those works, commented on Givens’ unwavering work ethic and love for writing.

“Murphy was a master,” Moloney said. “He wrote 18 books in 18 years after he retired from writing for the paper. For those of us who are writers, we know how amazing that is.”

Lori Atkins, TAMU-CC Director of Special Collections and Archives, said that Givens was meticulous in his record keeping and preservation of the papers, making the library’s job of preparing the papers for university researchers and the Coastal Bend community quicker and more efficient.

“This is an outstanding local historical reference collection,” said Atkins. “Mr. Givens researched the history of Corpus Christi citizens, street names, buildings, churches, Corpus Christi’s Civil War history, Texas Revolution, Texas Rangers, hurricanes that hit South Texas, and ranches. Hundreds of photographs of those subjects accompany the papers.” 

Karen Givens, Murphy’s wife of more than 40-years, says she hopes the collection will serve as a testament to his career and will continue her husband’s mission of educating the public on Texas history and lessons it has to offer.

“He put his blood, sweat and tears into these papers, and while Murphy was very self-effacing, he took every comment and compliment about his work personally,” Givens’ said. “He would be so happy to see this collection. We’re very proud of his works and we hope it encourages everyone who sees it to think critically and ask questions. That’s just what he would have wanted.”

To learn more about the Murphy Givens South Texas Historical Papers, visit https://www.tamucc.edu/library/find/special-collections/