Lubbock, Texas (NEXSTAR/KLBK) – Barbara Mansell, the first “trainee” who lived on the Texas Tech University campus in the mid-to-late 1930s, has died, the university said Wednesday.
Mansell, whose original surname was Hinsley, was born in Lubbock in 1936 during the Great Depression. Her mother died in childbirth and her father had already had eight other children with her, but she could not take responsibility for caring for her. , according to the university.
She was instead turned over to the care of Texas Tech University, thanks to a contract between the baby’s obstetrician and Susannah Curran, who was a home economics professor at the university at the time.
According to a Texas Tech Today blog post published in 2020, the baby, who was only two weeks old at the time, was to live in the school’s home management house and be cared for by girls studying home economics.
In a 1936 news release, the university said, “A motherless child in a local family, she had seven affectionate schoolgirls to bathe, warm her bottle, and turn to the other side when she cried.” “Diapers and baby dresses are hung on clotheslines in the backyard, cold visitors are barred, and the best conversation lead in the home economics building is ‘How’s the baby?’ .”
Barbara Ann, as the students named her, soon became known as the school’s “trainee.”
Mansell later explained that Karan wanted her to be adopted, but her biological father did not approve. Curran continued to visit and took the girl back to Lubbock for the summer.
Eventually, Barbara Ann moved back in with her father and siblings when she was 13. She married and moved to California, where she lived in her later years.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Barbara Mansell tonight,” Texas Tech University wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. He was the first “practice student” to live in Tech’s Home Management House.
“Our hearts go out to Barbara’s family,” the university added.
Speaking to Texas Tech Today in 2020, Mansell said he was “very lucky” to be able to take care of the university and its students.
“I had a lot of love and care,” she said.
Texas Tech has had other “trainees” over the years, but none stayed on the scene as long as Mansell, some only for part of the day. The “Baby Practice” program was finished by his 1970s.
On the other hand, the concept of a college “practice student” was not uncommon in the 1950s. Author and researcher Lisa Grunwald told NPR in 2011 that she estimated that about 40 to 50 such programs were in place, usually using babies from local orphanages.
“The practice field really embraced the idea that you could learn motherhood the same way you could learn cooking or chemistry. Everything was learnable and the system was very important,” says Grunwald. told the outlet.
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