The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Vigness, David Martell (1922–1979)

Winifred W. Vigness Biography Entry

David M. Vigness, historian, was born in La Feria, Texas, on October 12, 1922, the son of Lewis Martell and Nina (Hegge) Vigness, early settlers in the Minnesota groups that opened up the Rio Grande valley to agriculture. Vigness graduated from La Feria High School in 1939 and attended Schreiner Institute (see SCHREINER COLLEGE) in Kerrville for two years. He then transferred to the University of Texas and graduated with a B.A. in Spanish in 1943. After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he returned to the University of Texas and received his M.A. in 1948 in Latin-American Studies. He continued his training and in 1951 received his Ph.D. in history with an emphasis in Latin-American history. Vigness taught Mexican history at the University of Texas in the spring and summer of 1951. He was head of the Department of Social Studies at Schreiner Institute from 1951 to 1955, when he joined the history faculty at Texas Tech. He became chairman of the Department of History at Texas Tech in 1961 and remained in that position until September 1978. In 1957–58 he was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, and he also served as a visiting professor of Latin-American history at the University of New Mexico in the spring of 1979. Vigness was a consultant for the Peace Corps in Puerto Rico in 1965 and 1966, and he participated in the Congreso de Historia de Nordeste de Mexico in 1971. From 1971 to 1978 he was a member of the Texas Committee on Humanities and Public Policy, an organization he served as vice chairman in 1976–77 (see TEXAS COMMITTEE FOR THE HUMANITIES). He also served as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received the H. Bailey Carroll award from the Texas State Historical Association for the best article in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1972 and was a fellow of the association. He was a member of the American Historical Association, the Western History Association, the Conference on Latin American History, and the Southwestern Council of Latin American Studies; he was president of the Southwestern Council in 1972–73. He was also a member of the Southwestern Social Science Association and served on its executive council in 1964–65. He wrote The Revolutionary Decades (1965) and contributed to journals and reference works. Vigness married Winifred Woods on January 29, 1949, and they had two children. He was a Rotarian and Presbyterian. He was also a member of the board of trustees of the Austin Theological Seminary from 1973 until his death. Vigness died on July 16, 1979, of a heart attack at his residence in Lubbock.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Social Sciences

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Winifred W. Vigness, “Vigness, David Martell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 13, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995