Minerva seen through the branches on Fall colored leaves.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating Minerva's 80th birthday!

The Pioneer Woman statue at Texas Woman’s University — affectionately known as Minerva (Roman goddess of wisdom) by students — made her debut on the Denton campus Dec. 5, 1938. The statue pays tribute to the spirit of the pioneer women of Texas.

View the party highlights:

Minerva wearing a Birthday Girl sash with bundles of balloons on her left and right.
A close-up of a birthday cake decorated with redbud flowers and branches.
Oakley signing Minerva's birthday card with the statue in the background.
A crowd of student in Pioneer Circle in line for free shirts being passed out.
Chancellor Carine Feyten signing Minerva's giant birthday card in Pioneer Circle.
A group of students at a table in Pioneer Circle. One student waves to a friend off camera.
Silver number 80 shaped balloons with a crowd of students in the background of Pioneer Circle.
A crowd in Pioneer Circle signing a giant birthday card at a table.
Oakley and three Pioneer Pride dance team members pose in front of Minerva's birthday cake.
A close-up of Minerva wearing a Birthday Girl sash with balloons to her left.
Oakley holding up a long-sleeve gray shirt with the TWU logo inside of a snowflake on it.
A woman hands an excited TWU student a free shirt.
An aerial shot of Pioneer Circle with rows of students in chairs waiting to see Minerva be unveiled.

Her journey began in 1936 as Texas was approaching its centennial. The state set aside $3 million to restore historic forts and buildings. The money also would be used to create 15 new monuments that represented Texas history. L.H. Hubbard, president of what then was the Texas State College for Women, proposed a statue honoring the state’s pioneer women. 

Artist Leo Friedlander designed the statue, which stands 15 feet tall and is carved from Georgia white Cherokee marble. The project cost $25,000 and took three years to complete.

The statue’s 1938 unveiling drew a large crowd to what now is known as Pioneer Circle. Pat M. Neff, president of Baylor University and former governor of Texas, paid tribute to the state’s pioneer women, and Jessie H. Humphries, a founding faculty member and associate dean of the college, read the words she had written that are inscribed on the base of the statue:

Minerva’s Inscription

“Marking a trail in a pathless wilderness, pressing forward with unswerving courage, she met each untried situation with resourcefulness equal to the need; with a glad heart, she brought to her frontier her homeland’s cultural heritage; with delicate spiritual sensitiveness, she illumed the dullness of routine and the loneliness of isolation with beauty; and with life abundant and withal, she lived with casual unawareness of her value to civilization. Such was the Pioneer Woman, the unsung saint of the nation’s immortals.”