Cindy Tillmon
William C. Griggs
William C. Griggs. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Southwest Museum Services Logo
Southwest Museum Services Logo. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
The Elusive Eden
The Elusive Eden by William C. Griggs. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

GRIGGS, WILLIAM CLARK (1932–2003). William Clark Griggs, historian, author, and founder of Southwest Museum Services, was born December 16, 1932, in Lubbock, Texas. He was the son of John Ernest and Thelma (Clark) Griggs. Griggs graduated from Texas A&M University in 1954 then entered the United States Army in operations and intelligence, achieving the rank of corporal. Afterward he was accepted into the graduate program at Texas Tech, where he earned both master and doctoral degrees. While still working on his advanced degrees, Griggs established the History of Engineering and Technology Center at the university.

Griggs went on to become the executive director of the Heritage Society of Houston in 1982. He left that post in 1987 to found and become CEO of Southwest Museum Services, a company that designs and builds museums and museum exhibits across the world. With his help, this top-ranked company created exhibits for clients such as the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, and the Cayman Islands National Museum.

Griggs wrote several books, including Parson Henry Renfro: Free Thinking on the Texas Frontier (1994) (see HENRY CARTY RENFRO). This biography about his great-great-grandfather included family letters and old sermons along with newspaper articles. In addition he wrote The Elusive Eden: Frank McMullan's Confederate Colony in Brazil (1987), based on his research while in Brazil as a Fulbright scholar in 1983 (see FRANCIS MCMULLAN). Griggs was active in numerous professional organizations and served on the Texas Historical Commission. He was a Lutheran.

Griggs and his wife Joan had two children, a daughter, Nancy, and a son, John. He died in Brenham, Texas, on April 17, 2003, of cancer and was buried in Chappell Hill, Texas. He was honored posthumously with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in the history department at Texas Tech University.


Amarillo Globe-News, April 18, 2003. Paul H. Carlson, "Parson Henry Renfro: Free Thinking on the Texas Frontier" The Mississippi Quarterly 49 (Winter 1995/96). Houston Chronicle, April 18, 19, 2003.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Cindy Tillmon, "GRIGGS, WILLIAM CLARK," accessed July 17, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 27, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox