When it was constructed in 1929, the library’s reading room was the largest among state-supported colleges in Texas. It was 168 feet long, 48 feet wide, two-stories in height and could house 125,000 books. The old library, now the Hall of Languages, symbolized the university’s expanding academic opportunities, a sharp contrast with the economic privations of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.
East Texas State Teacher’s College benefitted from New Deal programs, particularly the Public Works Administration (PWA) and National Youth Administration (NYA). PWA permitted the construction of campus facilities, Mayo Hall, completed in 1935, and East Dormitory, now known as Henderson Hall, in 1938.
Additionally, President Samuel H. Whitley expanded the college’s academics, introducing its first graduate programs in English, history and education. In the summer of 1936, 238 students enrolled in these new programs.