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Helen Moore Barthelme Papers

Identifier: 2008-021

This collection contains photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, short stories, and articles related to or written by Donald Barthelme and his brothers, Rick, Steve, and Peter Barthelme, as well as notes by Helen Barthelme. This collection contains research that Helen Barthelme gathered in order to write a biography on Donald Barthelme Jr., Donald Barthelme: The Genesis of a Cool Sound. This collection encompasses his early life and career both as a writer and as director of the Contemporary Arts Association, up until his death in 1989.


  • 1949-2002

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Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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4.0 linear feet

Biographical Information

Helen Barthelme was born December 18, 1927. She graduated as an honors student from Corpus Christi High School at the age of 15. After her parents separated, she moved to Houston with her mother and two sisters. About a year later, around the age of 17, she enrolled at the University of Houston, where she would later meet Donald Barthelme Jr., who would later become a famous author. She became editor of the school newspaper 'The Cougar.' After graduating with her bachelor's degree, she continued to work in the university's public relations department. She briefly left the university to start a corporate career, but returned as director of the Information Office in 1951.

In 1951, she married her first husband Pete Gilpin. The marriage dissolved in 1956, and she married Donald Barthelme shortly thereafter. She left her professional endeavors for a short time in order to become a housewife, but she disliked the role. She soon re-enrolled in philosophy and art classes at the University of Houston. In 1957, she became an account executive for an ad agency, and was invited to teach classes in journalism and literature at a four-year woman's university in Houston called Dominican College.

In 1959, Helen Barthelme started her own ad agency, and continued to teach at Dominican College. She and Donald Barthelme were divorced in 1965. She continued her education, getting her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1972, she accepted an appointment with the Department of English at the University of Houston. She went on to become a professor of English at Texas A&M university in College Station. Helen Barthelme had a long and distinguished career as an ad executive and professor. She died of cancer on Jun 28, 2002.


Barthelme, H. M. (2001). Donald Barthelme: The Genesis of a Cool Sound (Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities, 13) (1st ed ed.). College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2010.

Guide to the Helen Moore Barthelme Papers
Dara Flinn and Lisa Tafoya
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA