Dr. Lurline H. Coltharp
Lurline Coltharp characterized her work in onomastics as a labor of love. In the late 1970s she taught a linguistics course on the study of names and one of her students was a librarian at the UTEP Library. They both began to collect books on naming practices for the Library. Dr. Coltharp, who was a past president of the American Name Society, began to lay the foundation for what would become an endowment for the Library, which became fully funded in 1991. Her tireless efforts at promotion have brought in many donations, and the collection now contains over 2500 items. The Place Name Survey of the United States has designated the collection as one of two national research centers for toponymics, which is the study of names related to a place or region. The emphasis in Latin American and Southwestern names has brought many scholars to the Library, which includes a collection of Mexican gazetteers of particular importance because the agency that published this was destroyed in the Mexico City earthquake. In 1993, she hosted the combined meeting of the Western States Geographic Names Conference, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and the Place Name Survey of the United States. Meetings were held in the Library and at the Paso Del Norte, with a road trip to Old Mesilla narrated by Leon Metz. Dr. Coltharp's own publications on names include, Names in a Pawn Shop: a Study of Navajo Names and the article, “Dual Influences on Chicano Naming Practices.”
The collection is distributed throughout the Library by subject area and includes an extensive vertical file, manuscripts, rare books, and reference sets. Books and articles in the main collection may be obtained through regular Interlibrary Loan service at your library. You may request material not in the main collection by contacting Nancy Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (915)747-6722; every effort will be made to reproduce the material for you. We are in the process of cataloging each item in the collection for our Library catalog. A keyword search on “Coltharp” will find all the cataloged items in the collection.
Dr. Coltharp once said that when she started out she hadn’t realized that “the collection would take a lifetime of work – happy work, rewarding work – but still work." Her work still lives on here at the University of Texas at El Paso Library.
-- Nancy Hill