Prints and Photographs Collection
Portrait of Governor Smith in 1969. Preston Smith grew up in humble circumstances in Central and West Texas. Fueled by an ebullient personality, he worked his way through Texas Technological College (later Texas Tech University). After graduation, Smith and a partner opened a movie theater, and by 1944 they owned a chain of theaters and had branched out into other businesses and real estate. In the process, Smith became a well-known figure in West Texas. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1944, the Texas Senate in 1956, and lieutenant governor in 1962. Smith had earned a place as a mainstay of the political establishment. In 1968, he was elected governor of Texas.
Education was the passion of Smith's career. Over the years, he authored, sponsored, or signed into law numerous education bills. Due to Smith, four new state schools were created, as well as two medical schools, a dental school, and a nursing school. He was responsible for helping to establish a permanent building fund for all state colleges, increase teacher salaries, expand vocational education, and create the Texas Education Code.
Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, #1970/42-1.