The Texas Woman's University Herbarium was one of the few herbaria initiated in the early 1900s in Texas, and its history traces back to the time of the establishment and development of the University and its Biology department. Albert Ruth contributed 1/4 of the actual collection, between 1903 and 1927. During the 1930s and 1940s, it was further enlarged by well-known botanists such as: B. C. Tharp (1885-1964), who directed the University of Texas Herbarium (TEX) for 45 years after Dr. Mary S. Young; Barton H. Warnock (1911-1998) and C. H. Mueller, who collected mainly from the Big Bend Region; Mary S. Young (1872-1919), one of the first Texas female botanists and the first curator of TEX between 1912-1919; Dr. Fred A. Barkley, curator of TEX, 1945-1958; and Eula Whitehouse (1892-1974), who published ‘Texas Flowers in Natural Colors’ (1936), the first color-illustrated guide to Texas wildflowers. Other contributors were Dr. Viola Hamilton, professor and chair of the TWU Department of Biology, her collaborators, and students.
After World War II, the collection was neglected and forgotten until a lab coordinator, Reta Smiddy Foreman, re-discovered it in 1976, overcrowded into two metal cases in an unused closet of the Old Science Building. After renovations in 1978, there was no room for the herbarium, and the cases were stored in a hallway. Since the gasketed doors remained unopened for years, most of the collection is still in very good shape today. University support was obtained in 2001 in raising money for the TWU Centennial Herbarium Project, which produced the first public exhibit of specimens for the TWU and Denton communities. The Department of Biology provided funds for two undergraduate student assistants to help with mounting, sorting, and inventorying the herbarium collection, as well as new space for it. The collection was digitized by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) in 2023 under NSF Grant #1902078.