Archie P. McDonald

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Archie Philip McDonald​​

(Historian of Texas; professor and author at Stephen F. Austin
State University)

Archie McDonald.JPG
Died August 16, 2012 (aged 76) ​​
​Nacogdoches, Texas

Resting place:
​ Sunset Memorial Park in Nacogdoches ​

Spouse Judy Barrett McDonald​​ (married 1957-2012, his death)

Two sons:
​ Christopher Lee McDonald
​​ Tucker Barrett McDonald (deceased)​
​ Archie and Pernemia Cowan McDonald​
​ George Harvey Tucker (stepfather)
Alma mater:
​ French High School (Beaumont) Lamar University (Beaumont)
Rice University
Louisiana State University

Religion Baptist

Archie Philip McDonald (November 29, 1935 – August 16, 2012)[1] was a historian who served from 1964 to 2012 on the faculty of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.


McDonald was born in Beaumont in Jefferson County, Texas, to Archie and Pernemia Cowan McDonald. After his father's death when Archie was young, his mother married George Harvey Tucker, Sr., who reared McDonald and his two step-brothers and one step-sister. He graduated in 1954 from French High School in Beaumont and in 1958 received a Bachelor of Science degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. In 1960, he received a Master of Arts in history from Rice University in Houston. In 1965, he received his Ph.D. Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, under the renowned historian T. Harry Williams (1909-1979), who directed his dissertation at LSU.[2]

Academic career

A popular teacher, McDonald regularly published articles and books. He was an officer in all of the academic historical associations of which he was affiliated during his lengthy academic career. Many said that his presence was a significant factor in the reputation of Stephen F. Austin University, particularly throughout Texas. He w a past president of Texas State Historical Association, chairman of the Texas Committee of Humanities, and executive officer of the Texas State Library and the Texas Historical Commission. He was the executive director of the East Texas Historical Association, based in Nacogdoches, and the editor of The East Texas Historical Journal from 1971 to 2008.[2]

He was also an editor of The New Handbook of Texas and The Journal of Confederate History. He wrote and/or edited nearly fifty publications during his career. He wrote columns for The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel newspaper and presented a weekly commentary on the Red River Station, the National Public Radio outlet in Shreveport, Louisiana. SFA awarded McDonald every honor that the university bestowed, including Regents' Professor and Distinguished Alumni Professor. He received the J. P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award, the Faculty Achievement Award, and two awards from the Texas Historical Commission. SFA and the City of Nacogdoches established in his honor the Archie P. McDonald Speaker Series, which brought to campus such personalities as boxer George Foreman, astronaut Alan Bean, and former United States Secretary of State James A. Baker, III of Houston, close associate of the late U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush.[2]

Selected book titles

McDonald's books include:

  • Fighting Men: The Western Military Heritage (1970).
  • The Old Stone Fort (1971).
  • Texas: All Hail the Mighty State (1983)
  • Notable East Texans (1986).
  • The Texas Experience (1986).
  • In Celebration of Texas: An Illustrated History (1986).
  • Shooting Stars: Heroes and Heroines in Film (1987).
  • William Barrett Travis: A Biography (1989).
  • When the Corn Grows Tall in Texas: A Story of the Texas Revolution (1990).
  • Texas: What Do You Know About the Lone Star State? (1993).
  • A Nation of Foreign States: Secession & War in the Confederacy (Journal of Confederate History Series, Vol 10) (1994), with Dan K. Utley, ed.
  • Uncommon Valor … Common Virtue (1999), with Roy Blake.
  • Back Then: Simple Pleasures and Everyday Heroes (2005).
  • Primary Source Accounts of the Civil War (2006).
  • Texas: A Compact History (2007).
  • Nacogdoches: Wilderness Outpost to Modern City, 1779 to 1979. (2009), with Hardy Meredith
  • Nacogdoches (2009), with Hardy Meredith.[3]

McDonald was the editor of the revised version of Dare-Devils All: The Texan Mier Expedition, 1842-1844 (ISBN 978-1-57168-214-7) by J. Milton Nance, an historian at Texas A&M University in College Station. A volume of more than seven hundred pages, Dare-Devils All, is the full account of the Mier Expedition, a Texas militia which attacked the Mexican border community of Ciudad Mier on December 26, 1842. The men were seeking financial gain and retaliation for the Dawson Massacre in which thirty-six Texans had been killed by the Mexican Army. In the infamous black bean episode of the Mier Expedition, the Texans were forced to draw black or white beans from a pot to determine who would be allowed to live and who would be killed by firing squad. Seventeen drew black beans from a pot of mostly white beans and, along with one other who drew a white bean, were executed on March 25, 1843. Dare-Devils All was shortened to 547 pages and re-released in December 1997, after Nance's death, under McDonald's editorship.[4]

Family and death

McDonald was active in the Nacogdoches Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, he was named "Citizen of the Year" for Nacogdoches.[2]

While at Lamar University, McDonald met and married in 1957 the former Judith "Judy" Barrett (born 1938). A Republican,[5] she served for eighteen years on the nonpartisan Nacogdoches City Commission and became the first female mayor of her city. The couple had two sons, Tucker Barrett McDonald (1963-2009)[6] and Christopher Lee McDonald (born 1966). Judy was the inspiration for McDonald's humorous self-help book, Helpful Cooking Hints for HouseHusbands of Uppity Women. She insisted that he attend all city council meeting just as she was elected to do.[2]

McDonald died of a painful illness in 2012 at the age of seventy-six. He was predeceased by his parents, stepfather, and son Tucker. In addition to his wife Judy, he was survived by son Christopher of Nacogdoches; granddaughter, Kelly Marie McDonald and her mother, Janet; stepbrothers George Harvey Tucker, Jr., and wife Sherrie and John David Tucker and wife Donna; step-sister Nancy Lovenia Tucker, and sister-in-law Cherry Coffman. His obituary mentions his friendship with Mrs. Portia Gordon, his long-time assistant as the executive director of the East Texas Historical Association.[2]

Visitation was held at Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches. A memorial service followed in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center on the SFA campus. He is interred at Sunset Memorial Park in Nacogdoches.[2]


  1. Archie McDonald (Nacogdoches, Texas). Retrieved on January 21, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Archie Philip McDonald. Retrieved on January 21, 2020.
  3. Books by Archie P. McDonald. Retrieved on January 21, 2020.
  4. (December 1, 1997) Dare-Devils All: The Texan Mier Expedition, 1842-1844. Eakin. ISBN 1-57168-214-7. Retrieved on January 21, 2020. 
  5. Judith McDonald. Retrieved on January 21, 2020.
  6. Tucker Barrett McDonald. Retrieved on January 22, 2020.