Memorabilia mania
Alumnus Gary Key's collection of UTA keepsakes dates to 1902

Gary Key says he never throws anything away. That's why yearbooks from his college days still line up neatly on his bookshelves. And he likes collecting things, so over the years his books from the 1960s have been joined by records from almost every era of UTA history.


According to one of the old catalogs in Gary Key's collection of UTA memorabilia, students were charged a $3 admission fee, but tuition was free.

What's more, his wife, Bettye, taught Texas history for 19 years, so it's no wonder their home is filled with UTA and Arlington artifacts.

"I started out with my yearbooks, then picked up a few from the years just before and after I was in school, and pretty soon the collection started growing," Key said.

Frequently the couple discover UTA memorabilia when they're rummaging through boxes at area antique stores. One of their favorite finds was a first-year catalog from Grubbs Vocational College, dated 1917.

According to the catalog, Grubbs students were charged a $3 admission fee, but tuition at the two-year college was free. Boys paid $17 per month for room and board; girls received a $2-per-month break because they were required to help out with the dishes.

"Most of Arlington has no idea that UTA used to be Grubbs," Key said. "I find these things in antique stores and people don't even know what they have."

Key's oldest item is a brochure from Carlisle Military Academy, another of UTA's early predecessors, established in 1902. Founded by James M. Carlisle, the all-boys academy prohibited students from having more than 50 cents a week in spending money and required that each boy write a letter home every Sunday afternoon.

One of the most unusual items in Key's collection is a slim brass letter opener bearing the North Texas Agricultural College seal. He also has several yearbooks from the NTAC period, which lasted from 1923 to 1949. The school was then part of the Texas A&M System and students were known as Junior Aggies.

"Sometimes people will see those annuals and say, 'Did you go to Texas A&M?' " Key said. "I just tell them, 'No, UTA was North Texas Agricultural College back then.' "

Key's collection particularly emphasizes the Arlington State College era. He and Bettye were in the 1966 graduating class that made the transition from Arlington State to UTA, and both school names adorn their diplomas.

Just two more treasures in the Keys' walk through UTA history.


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