Over at College: A Texas A&M Campus Kid in the 1930s

Over at College: A Texas A&M Campus Kid in the 1930s

Over at College: A Texas A&M Campus Kid in the 1930s

Over at College: A Texas A&M Campus Kid in the 1930s


In 1926 James Knox Walker, staff civil engineer in charge of building at A&M, and his new bride moved onto the campus of what was then known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. The greater community, of which this small on-campus neighborhood was a part, was known simply as "College." There was no such place as College Station, and the city of Bryan stood six miles away.

James Knox Walker Jr., the couple's oldest child, recollects the days when professors, staff members, and their children formed a small, closely knit society "over at College." The campus served as the children's playground and the scene of their adventures. It also served their educational needs at A&M Consolidated School, founded in 1920. This community flourished from its beginnings in the late 1890s until 1938, when the college informed residents that it would no longer provide on-campus housing.

Over at College is a charming stroll through the past that also captures fascinating glimpses of the social structures, institutions, mores, and daily lives on the A&M campus during the 1920s and 1930s.


Texas A&M University has had its nearly 140 years of history documented in numerous published accounts, which have covered nearly all aspects of the development of a great university with a “difference.” Its administration, politics, athletics, military commitment, and academics are well represented in these publications. the works of such authors as Clarence Ousley, David Brooks Cofer, Ernest Langford, and John A. Adams Jr. come to mind. Certainly Henry C. Dethloff’s two-volume work, A Centennial History of Texas A&M University, 1876–1976, is an excellent example of readable scholarly research by an eminent historian. What Knox Walker brings that is new to this body of work is a delightful memoir that describes the culture and everyday life of the faculty and staff families living on campus during the Great Depression. It is unique in that it is viewed through the eyes of a young boy growing up on the campus, with these memories later buttressed by careful research in the Texas A&M University archives to provide any necessary details.

The recounting of life in the A&M campus “village” during the 1930s, or for that matter any period, has been either fragmentary or nonexistent. This makes Walker’s work a priceless addition to the history of a special culture. When the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas opened in 1876 as Texas’ first experiment in public education, it was isolated from the nearest town of Bryan by four miles. Located on a broad prairie with very poor roads, travel to town was no small undertaking for one who had to . . .

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