Texas History
Still Empowering People
Texas Co-op Power celebrates 75 years of chronicling the cooperative movement

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    Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
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    Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
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    Web Extra: From September 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1944
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    Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
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    1 of 16
    Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
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    1 of 16
    Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
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    Web Extra: From May 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | May 1945
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    Web Extra: From September 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1945
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    Web Extra: From November 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | November 1945
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    Web Extra: From February 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
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    Web Extra: From May 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
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    Web Extra: From June 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | June 1946
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    Web Extra: From July 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1947
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    Web Extra: From September 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1947
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    Web Extra: From October 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | October 1947
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    Web Extra: From July 1948 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1948

Somewhere in tiny Anywhere, Texas, a high school senior opens her laptop, plugs her phone into its charger and clicks Play on her study music playlist. She’s applying for a college scholarship she learned about in a magazine; the application is almost ready. After a final read-through, she hits Send—and, with the help of high-speed internet, makes an investment in her future.

Nowhere in her mind is the fact that all this is possible because of her great-grandfather.

Her great-grandfather was one of thousands of Texans who banded together with neighbors in the 1930s and ’40s to build cooperatives that would electrify their farms, transforming the countryside and economy. The magazine containing the scholarship information is Texas Co-op Power, which has chronicled the state’s electric cooperative movement since 1944—and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

  • Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
  • Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
  • Web Extra: From September 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1944
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From May 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | May 1945
  • Web Extra: From September 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1945
  • Web Extra: From November 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | November 1945
  • Web Extra: From February 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
  • Web Extra: From May 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
  • Web Extra: From June 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | June 1946
  • Web Extra: From July 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1947
  • Web Extra: From September 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1947
  • Web Extra: From October 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | October 1947
  • Web Extra: From July 1948 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1948

What started as four pages of newsprint titled Texas Cooperative Electric Power doubled to eight pages by the second issue. Circulation in the first year grew from 14,000 to 39,500 as the 49 co-ops affiliated with the Texas Power Reserve (later Texas Electric Cooperatives) continued to grow.

“It’s a fascinating story this newspaper has set out to tell,” read an editorial by the first editor, George W. Haggard. “In 1935 only three Texas farms in 100 had central station power—today, three in ten are so lighted. Tomorrow, we hope to make it well-nigh universal.”

Written for a population poised to join in the war effort and postwar prosperity, Texas Cooperative Electric Power articles took a forward-looking tone. In February 1945, the name was changed to Texas Co-op Power. Columns like March 1945’s War Duty Checklist encouraged readers to make “every kilowatt you use do a real war job.”

After World War II, rural electrification pushed full speed ahead alongside the economy. Ads aimed at newly prosperous members offered appliances to improve home life and expand farm production. The magazine added “women’s pages,” filled with household tips for using new products and recipes to be cooked with electric stoves and ranges.

  • Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
  • Web Extra: From August 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | August 1944
  • Web Extra: From September 1944 Texas Cooperative Electric Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1944
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From March 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | March 1945
  • Web Extra: From May 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | May 1945
  • Web Extra: From September 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1945
  • Web Extra: From November 1945 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | November 1945
  • Web Extra: From February 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
  • Web Extra: From May 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | February 1946
  • Web Extra: From June 1946 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | June 1946
  • Web Extra: From July 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1947
  • Web Extra: From September 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | September 1947
  • Web Extra: From October 1947 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | October 1947
  • Web Extra: From July 1948 Texas Co-op Power.
    IMAGE: TEC Archives | July 1948

Pages were dedicated to developments at individual co-ops, and the words and faces of members appeared. A 1945 contest asked for essays answering the question, “How has electricity helped you?” One winner’s moving response told of her daughter, born prematurely, who survived only because of the incubator that enclosed her first weeks of life. “Lyndah Nell will be 3 this month and is in perfect health,” the Limestone County mother wrote.

Rural electrification eventually reached all corners of the state, and co-op members acquired the conveniences of modern homes and farms. Texas Co-op Power’s focus shifted from the wonders of electricity to advice on using it safely and efficiently. Industry- and government-focused articles were replaced by stories covering travel, food, gardening and other topics of general interest.

Form changed with function, too. In 1960, two-color printing brought the publication a fresh look, but 1992 saw the most visible transition when the format changed to a full-color magazine. Photo and recipe contests became a staple, as did statewide events listings. Then the 21st century came calling with a Texas Co-op Power website and Facebook page, allowing more interaction between the magazine and its readers.

In some ways, not much has changed. The technology is new, sure, but the magazine still strives to cover topics important to co-op members. Through-out this anniversary year, Texas Co-op Power delves into its 75 years of archives to see how its past informs its present and builds foundations for its future.


Ellen Stader is a writer and editor in Austin.


Web Extra: The Debut of Texas Co-op Power in Perspective

In July 1944, Texas Co-op Power printed its first issue, though it was called Texas Cooperative Electric Power until February 1945. For perspective, let’s compare the year against a longer timeline. Texas Co-op Power debuted:

 

200 years after the Great Comet of 1744, one of the brightest ever seen, reached its closest point to the sun.

 

150 years after Eli Whitney revolutionized the U.S. cotton industry with a patent on the cotton gin.

 

100 years after Samuel Morse tapped out “What hath God wrought” in the world’s first telegraph message.

 

50 years after the first public exhibition of moving pictures via Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope.

 

12 years after the U.S. economy hit its deepest lows during the Great Depression.

 

11 years after the 21st amendment was ratified, repealing the 18th amendment and ending Prohibition.

 

10 years after outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow died in an FBI ambush.

 

9 years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the executive order allowing creation of the Rural Electrification Administration.

 

8 years after Bartlett Electric Cooperative in Central Texas became the nation’s first co-op energized under an REA loan.

 

7 years after pilot Amelia Earhart disappeared while attempting an around-the-world flight.

 

6 years after Superman made his first appearance, in Action Comics #1.

 

5 years after the Nazis invaded Poland, starting World War II.

 

4 years after the first nylon stockings were sold to the general public and became instantly popular.

 

3 years after the statewide organization Texas Electric Cooperatives (then called the Texas Power Reserve) was established.

 

2 years after construction of all electrical systems was halted due to wartime material shortages.

 

1 year after construction was completed on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

TAGS: Co-ops at Work, History, 75th Anniversary


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