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Eleanor Smith Garrett Collection

Identifier: UAC/25/ 2023.a015

Scope and Contents

This collection is composed of materials belonging to Eleanor Smith Garrett during her time at Sam Houston State Teachers College, including SHSTC A Cappella Choir concert programs, a graduation letter from President Harmon Lowman, and the SHSTC Bulletin 75th anniversary edition.


  • Creation: 1951 - 1954

Conditions Governing Use

The materials represented in this finding aid have been made available for research, teaching and private use. For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) these items without prior permission on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies.

Please contact the Newton Gresham Library's Special Collections and University Archives department to request permissions to reproduce materials for any other purpose, or to obtain information regarding the copyright status of a particular digital image, text, audio or video recording.

Biographical / Historical

Eleanor Paxton Smith was born in Apple Springs, Texas, in 1934 to Mervin Smith and Hazel Marie Gibson. She attended high school in Pennington, Texas, not far from Apple Springs, where she graduated as valedictorian.

Eleanor received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Sam Houston State University in May 1954 with honors and her Master of Education in 1955. During her undergraduate years, she was a member of the A Cappella Choir. Several of her concert programs are a part of the collection.

After graduating from SHSTC, Eleanor got her first teaching job in Trinity County, Texas. She and Charles were married later that year after his Navy service ended. They had three children Charles Lewis Garrett Jr., Deirdre Lynne Garrett (Hasselbach), and Vaughan Lamar Garrett.

Eleanor and Charles moved to Beaumont, Texas, for him to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Lamar University. During this time, Eleanor taught in the Nederland school system.

After receiving his degree in 1959, they moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Eleanor taught in Garland, Texas, and Charles worked for Texas Instruments. In 1962/1963, Charles worked in their garage in Garland, designing and developing a metal detector that would have better search capabilities than the current detectors on the market. Eleanor used her Texas Teacher Retirement System funds to help create and market the metal detector her husband designed.

On April 1, 1964, Eleanor and Charles officially established their company, Garrett Metal Detectors, introducing the company's first metal detector to the market, the dual search-coil Hunter. Eleanor retired from her teaching career to work on the future of their new company. For the next ten years, Garret Metal Detectors continued to produce new metal detectors for the treasure-hunting industry, and in 1974 the company introduced the Gravity Trap Gold Pan, which they distribute worldwide, and it continues to be the world's most popular gold pan. In 1978, the company opened up dealership locations in London and Australia due to a rise in gold prices and a higher demand for the company's metal detectors. In 1979, the company established The International Treasure Hunting Society to bring treasure hunters from across the globe together. The Society also hosts the largest international treasure hunt that spans five days in Dallas, Texas, with over $100,000 in prizes.

In 1983, Garrett Metal Detectors were invited by the Olympic Committee to create a walk-through metal detector for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles due to the tragedy of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The walk-through metal detector, the MegnaScanner, and the hand-held SuperScanner were used during the 1984 Los Angeles Games. This marked the beginning of the company providing security for future Olympic Games, other international and domestic events, and airport security. Along with metal detecting, the company has expanded to include training in metal detection, video production, and publishing, in which Eleanor was fundamental in founding Ram Publishing, an award-winning Garrett subsidiary. Currently, their company is one of the world's largest manufacturers of metal detection equipment.

Eleanor was very active in forestry in Trinity and Houston Counties for a period of around 50 years. Eleanor and Charles were named the Texas Tree Farmers of the Year by the Texas Forestry Association in 2002.

In 2008, she was honored as a Sam Houston State University Distinguished Alumna and later received an Honorary Doctorate from Sam Houston State University and Lamar University.

Eleanor and Charles were generous donors to SHSU and Lamar University throughout the years, and in 2010 the Eleanor and Charles Garrett Teacher Education Center was dedicated to SHSU, while the Charles and Eleanor Garrett Engineering Center was dedicated to Lamar University in April 2012.

Charles Lewis Garrett died on April 3, 2015, and Eleanor Paxton Smith Garrett died on March 1, 2022. They are both buried at Calvary Cemetery in Trinity County, Texas. In honor of her memory, donations were made to the Sam Houston State University Foundation.

Eleanor served as the Principal Officer and State Officer for the Dallas chapters of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also the principal state officer of Magna Charta Dames and Barons. She was a member of the United Daughters of 1812, Daughters of the American Colonists, Colonial Daughters of the XVII Century, Daughters of the Indian Wars, Dames of the Court of Honor, Plantagenet Society, Order of Washington, Huguenot Society, Manikun Society and Order of Eastern Star, a charter member of Garland Women's Building, and a life member of the Dallas Genealogical Society.


1 boxes (Grey legal archival box.)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by content.

Physical Location

This collection is located in the University Archives, Newton Gresham Library, room 400.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Eleanor Smith Garrett donated these items to the University Archives.

Eleanor Smith Garrett Collection
Language of description
Script of description
Donated by Eleanor Smith Garrett.

Repository Details

Part of the Thomason Special Collections & SHSU University Archives Repository

1830 Bobby K. Marks Drive
Huntsville TX 77341 US