Virginia Leddy Gambrell, archivist and museum director, was born in Greenville, Texas, on August 7, 1910, the daughter of Charles A. Leddy. She attended the University of Texas, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1933. While at UT, she was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa. She enrolled in Southern Methodist University in 1934, the year she became the first paid employee of the Dallas Historical Society when she was hired as its archivist. She married Herbert P. Gambrell on August 4, 1940, and held her position as archivist until 1948, when she became the director of the Hall of State at Fair Park. She remained director until 1976, when she retired because of failing health. Mrs. Gambrell served on the board of the Texas State Library and Historical Commission, of which she was chairman from 1949 to 1951. She was also a member of the American Association of State and Local History and the Society of American Archivists. She served as vice president for the AASLH from 1948 to 1968 and on the council of the Society of American Archivists from 1945 to 1948. She was also a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. She succeeded her husband as director of the Hall of State when he became the chairman of the history department at Southern Methodist University. Together, the couple wrote a book entitled A Pictorial History of Texas (1960), which received the Summerfield G. Roberts Award for the best Texas book of the year. When Mrs. Gambrell resigned from the Hall of State in 1976, her husband resigned as historical director of the Dallas Historical Society. Virginia Gambrell died on March 14, 1978, after a long illness. She is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin.
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Dallas Morning News, September 18, 1975. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 1978–79.
Museums, Libraries, and Archives
Museum Administrators, Curators, and Directors
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Gambrell, Virginia Leddy,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: