H. Bailey Carroll, historian, son of J. Speed and Lena (Russell) Carroll, was born in Gatesville, Texas, on April 29, 1903. He successively attended Southern Methodist University, McMurry College, Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) (B.A., M.A., 1928), and the University of Texas (Ph.D., 1935). He began teaching history at Texas Technological College in 1928 and subsequently taught at Texas Wesleyan, Lamar State, Hillsboro, West Texas State, Eastern New Mexico, and Arlington State colleges before returning to the University of Texas in 1942 as a member of the history department, director of research in Texas history, and associate director of the Texas State Historical Association. In 1946 he became professor of history, director of the association, and editor of its Southwestern Historical Quarterly and Junior Historian.
Under Carroll's direction and coeditorship the two-volume Handbook of Texas was published in 1952. His first work was Gúadal P'a, published in 1941; the next year he edited Three New Mexico Chronicles. He compiled a bibliography of Texas County Histories (1943) and wrote Texan Santa Fe Trail (1951), which was followed by his indispensable checklist of Texas History Theses (1955). These and twenty-six volumes of the Quarterly stand as a monument to his editorial skill and scholarly standards. Fourteen of his articles were published in learned journals, and he served six journals in advisory capacities. He held honorary memberships in a number of regional societies, including the Sons of the Republic of Texas, and was a member of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (now the Organization of American Historians), the American Association for State and Local History (of which he was vice president), the Texas Folklore Society, the Bibliographical Society of the United States and Canada, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London and of the Society of American Historians. He received a Rockefeller research grant and wide recognition for his pioneer leadership in the Junior Historian movement, which originated in Texas and spread throughout the country. Largely because of Carroll's efforts, interested citizens established a fund for the benefit of the Texas State Historical Association. In 1948 he initiated a book-publication program that made possible the issuance of eighty books under the association's colophon by 1990.
Carroll was married on June 3, 1935, to Mary Joe Durning, and they had one son. A cerebral stroke in 1961 impaired his health permanently, although he continued his work almost to the day of his death, May 12, 1966. Each year since 1967 the H. Bailey Carroll Award has been presented to honor the best article in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly for the past year.