Friday, October 31, 2014

Tales From the Clipped: The X Files

Without A Trace  On June 1, 1948, Virginia 
Carpenter (center) took a cab to the Denton cam-
pus of Texas State College for Women (now 
Texas Woman's University), got out of the cab 
near her dorm--and vanished without a trace.  
Although Virginia's disappearance was heavily 
investigated, and various sitings of her have been 
reported over the years, the case was never solved.  
Virginia's story is prominently featured in the
Files, a collection of newspaper clippings and notes 
about some of the chilling tales from TWU history.   
Daedalian, 1946. Texas State College for Women. 
Digital modification by Matthew Miller.
On the Denton campus of TWU, three unassuming file folders rest on a shelf in the Woman's Collection vault of the Blagg-Huey Library.  At first glance one might assume they were left there by mistake.  From a distance, there is no clue that the files contain anything out of the ordinary--and certainly not material requiring the secure, climate-controlled protection the vault affords.  The contents appear to be reports, letters--perhaps photographs.  

A closer inspection reveals the eerie truth.  Campus Mysteries/Ghost Stories reads one label.  Campus Mysteries/Missing Student reads another. Campus Mysteries/X Files says the third.  These plain manila folders with the distinctly unusual labels are known as the X Files, a collection of newspaper clippings and notes about some of the tales--some mysterious, some tragic, all chilling--that are part of TWU history. 

One of the files' more enduring tales is the story of Virginia Carpenter, a student who arrived by cab on the Denton campus of Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman's University) in the summer of 1948, got out of the cab near her dorm--and vanished without a trace.  In The Case of The Missing Co-Ed author Shelly Tucker sums up the case.

"She stepped off the train in Denton, Texas on Tuesday, June 1, 1948, after a six-hour trip from her home in Texarkana, wearing a striped chambray dress, red platform shoes (with a matching red bag), and a white hat perched on her head.  Virginia Carpenter was twenty-one years old.  The 5’3" young lady had long brown hair, brown eyes, and a lovely smile.  She took a cab from the train station to Brackenridge Hall, which would be her dormitory, at Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University).  She planned to take summer classes for her future career as either a nurse or a lab technician.  She didn’t get a chance to be either.  Virginia disappeared that night without a trace."
Learn the lengths some went to in the search for Virginia, and of other tales of mystery and mayhem from TWU history, in the pages of the X Files.  Very popular with students, these files can be requested in the Woman's Collection Information Office (Room 205) on the library's second floor.  While the files must remain on the premises, patrons are invited to use the library's beautiful Reading Room to peruse them to their hearts' content. 

Skip the haunted houses, ask for the X Files--and learn about some of the chilling episodes from our university's past.

If you dare.

~Sandy Cochran

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