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Terry Tarlton Hershey Papers

Identifier: 2005-005

This partial collection includes some biographical materials on Terry Hershey, background information on groups who have solicited or received philanthropic support from Hershey or the Hershey Foundation, and available materials on the local groups Hershey supported as a founder, board member, or supporter. A second portion of the Hershey collections includes her collected materials on state and national organizations to which she belonged or served on boards.

Additional partial collections scheduled to follow will include local, state, and federal agencies plus topical files on people and issues.


  • 1962-2012


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


80.0 linear feet

Historical Information

During the mid-1960s a group of homeowners in Houston’s Memorial subdivision formed the Buffalo Bayou Preservation Association (BBPA) to protect the natural beauty of their neighborhood bayou after they observed an area along the Bayou near Chimney Rock that was ravaged by fallen trees and bulldozed undergrowth. They soon learned that Harris County Flood Control District was re-routing Buffalo Bayou without public notification. Outraged by the condition of the bayou and the county’s failure to proffer public notification, Terry Hershey, a Memorial resident herself, joined BBPA and quickly became its most visible and energetic activist. Houston developer George Mitchell lived on Buffalo Bayou and was a founding member and a president of the organization. Hershey’s first acts involved community coalition building, but before long she traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee by invitation of young Congressman George H.W. Bush. Her testimony led to a halt of the work on Buffalo Bayou and a request by Congressman Bush that the project be re-studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Although BBPA began as a NIMBY (not in my backyard) organization, by 1969 members realized that their concerns for Buffalo Bayou applied to all of Houston and Harris County’s watersheds, so the organization expanded its scope and amended its name and became Bayou Preservation Association (BPA). As a NIABY (not in anybody’s back yard) group, BPA emerged as an organization devoted to watershed oversight and information dissemination. Promoting community education and participation in watershed management decisions was a major focus of BPA activities. During the 1970s, BPA orchestrated the formation of the Harris County Flood Control Citizens’ Advisory Task Force, a community collaboration of engineers, developers, and interested citizens, and BPA sponsored an herculean effort to propel Houston and Harris County into the federal flood insurance program in 1973.

Terry Hershey’s role in a landmark citizens’ protest against structural intervention along Buffalo Bayou was fortuitous for Houston’s environmental community. Born in Fort Worth, Hershey moved to Houston in the 1950s to marry Jake Hershey, an independent business man, sailor, and philanthropist. When Terry Hershey recognized the danger to her neighborhood and understood the broader scope of environmental problems in Houston, she remembered her mother’s lessons on the responsibilities of women to civic activism and embarked on a personal mission to eradicate Houston’s problems. Hershey was and remains a central figure in Houston’s environmental activism. She studied the problems, sought input from other communities, organized groups, created coalitions, headed protests, and offered financial support to myriad efforts directed toward improvement of quality of life problems in Houston. Her first environmental campaign was successful because she, and the community activists she aroused, stepped into uncharted territory by directly challenging local government in Harris County and indirectly by taking their argument to Washington. George Bush gambled considerable local political capital to suggest a re-study of the Buffalo Bayou project, but his courage heartened local activists as much as it antagonized local government.

The fight to save Buffalo Bayou was significant on several fronts. First, it represented a coordinated demand from citizens’ groups to be informed of and included in government projects. Second, it uncovered a small subterranean network of disparate groups and individuals in Houston who responded when Terry Hershey organized a coalition. Last, it illustrated the force and inspiration of talented individuals who could coordinate groups into powerful, if temporary, coalitions. Sarah Emmott (collection housed in Houston History Archives), along with many other volunteers, lent her voice, energy, and money to the “Fight to Save Buffalo Bayou.” Inspired by a television news segment featuring Terry Hershey, Hana Ginzbarg (collection housed in Houston History Archives) came forward for the first time and offered her services. Ginzbarg joined the BBPA and set up a table in Memorial Park to collect 2,000 signatures supporting a re-study of Buffalo Bayou flood management plans, a foreshadowing of the incredible energy and tenacity that Ginzbarg would apply to the preservation of Armand Bayou. Activists who work to save Buffalo Bayou established Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (collection housed in Houston History Archives) and The Park People (collection housed in Houston History Archives), essentially founding Houston’s environmental community.

Custodial History

The Terry Tarlton Hershey Papers were acquired for the University of Houston Libraries in partnership with the Houston History Archives initiative of the UH Center for Public History.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Terry Tarlton Hershey in 2005.

Additional materials added through 2014 as parts of the ongoing donation by Terry Tarlton Hershey.

Related Materials

Bayou Preservation Association (BPA)

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC)

Sarah and Army Emmott Environmental Papers

Hana Ginzbarg Papers

Joseph M. Heiser, Jr. Papers

Outdoor Nature Club

The Park People

Scenic Houston - Scenic Texas

Kay B. Crooker Papers

Guide to the Terry Tarlton Hershey Papers
Fangyi Lu, David Brown, Jessie Doby, Shannon McNamara
Language of description
Script of description

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