Former historian, Marshall city commissioner and civil rights activist Gail Beil‘s extensive collection of research, books and other documents were donated by her surviving family to Wiley College, where they will forever be stored.
Beil’s children, Laura and Tom Beil, presented the items, in addition to a monetary check, to the university on Friday during a presentation at the Wiley College Library.
Beil died in January at the age of 81 after retiring her position on the Marshall City Commission. Because of her diligence in preserving history in the Marshall community — which consisted of researching and writing text for more than 30 historical markers, including the marker for Civil Rights leader James Farmer Jr. — Beil was given the highest honor from the East Texas Historical Association, becoming a fellow in 2013.
Beil also won a TV Emmy for her contributions to the award-winning PBS series “Marshall Texas, Marshall Texas,” a documentary on segregation and integration by Marshallite and renowned PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
Laura Beil invited the public to attend her mother’s memorial service at 3 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church in Marshall, where the Wiley College Acapella Choir will perform.
“This is such an incredible collection for Wiley College where students can look at her work about African American history and study her research,” Wiley College Director of Library Services Martha Lopez-Coleman said on Friday. “Her work will be in very good hands, and we are so thankful to her family for allowing this to be housed here on campus.”
Laura and Tom Beil both said Friday it was their mother’s wish for her work to go to her beloved Wiley College, where she once served in public relations and her husband taught. Beil also requested her children give a monetary contribution to the university.
“This is what she wanted,” Tom said. “This is a homecoming for us and for our mother’s research to come back to Wiley College.“
Laura said Tom Speir, with the Harrison County Historical Society, volunteered to spend the next few months digitizing and cataloguing Beil’s written work.
“This is not everything that you see here,” Laura said. “There are hundreds of papers that Tom Speir volunteered to digitize so her work can be available and accessible to everyone.“
Beil’s work consists of books, magazines, research papers, newspaper articles and much more.