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November 16, 2007

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler Librarian Helps Preserve a Part of East Texas History


At The University of Texas at Tyler’s Robert R. Muntz Library, one can find UT Tyler professional librarian Vandy Dubre hard at work preparing and overseeing instruction sessions and providing faculty with reference resources for their classes.

Aside from her work at the Muntz Library, she also prides herself in helping preserve the rich history of Tyler’s very own Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House, the birthplace of noted Washington, D.C. journalist Sarah McClendon.

For Dubre, she’s drawn to the home, even though she is not related.

“I’m really interested in people and how they relate to each other. It’s interesting to see the family dynamic from all these letters and documents we still have in the house. We have all these letters filled with wonderful descriptions and the true feelings on these wonderful people. It’s like a window into the past but without all the editing and interpreting done by writers,” Dubre said.

“It’s also interesting to trace specific traits within the family. We still have family to talk to here in Tyler who give us even more insight into these people and the family as a whole.”

One family member she met before her involvement with the home is UT Tyler retiree Anne McClendon Jones, a niece of the famous journalist.

Anne, who also serves on the Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon Society board, worked in UT Tyler’s information systems and communications department as a senior programmer/analyst from November 2001 through January 2007. Their paths crossed in 2003, when it was decided that the Muntz Library would dedicate a special exhibit of McClendon after she died at the age of 92.

The university acquired the exhibit’s featured items as a gift from McClendon in 1992.

“Vandy was in charge of a large exhibit on my aunt,” said Jones. “I was very impressed with her attention to detail, creativity and her presentation given at the library. Since she had such an interest in Aunt Sarah, I thought she might be willing to help the non-profit group that administers the house.”

The group, called the Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House Society, was created in 1980 at which point the home was developed into a museum and eventual historic landmark.

Dubre’s special librarian skills in reference and special collections come in handy, as she serves on the society’s archives/museum committee. The society also conducts tours and special events of the house, including theater dinners. For special spirit tour events, Dubre portrays Mattie Bonner, one of many lives who are forever connected with the home’s history.

Vandy as Mattie Bonner
“Vandy has excellent archivist skills, is knowledgeable regarding the application for grants that we need, has leadership skills that we desperately need and is also a very good actress as evidenced by her role as Mattie at the Spirit Tours and various roles in our Murder Mysteries,” Jones said.

Dubre, a UT Tyler staff member since 1998, currently is scheduled to be the society’s board president in 2009.

“We are very appreciative of all the work that she does for us,” Jones added.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Dubre, 903.566.7167, or call 903.561.4559.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

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