Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in Honey Grove (2023)

Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in Honey Grove (1)

Dale McQueen

The Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in downtown Honey Grove is a great treasure that only a few communities of this size can boast about across the entire United States. Not many towns, no matter what the size, can say they have up to 250 people visit their library at least one day a week. While Honey Grove’s library can proudly claim this accomplishment, it is even more impressive when up to a third of these visitors live outside the Honey Grove area. Not many libraries can also boast about having a support group of over 100 people who have joined together to create the Friends of the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library organization.

While many libraries have a goal of loaning out books, the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library takes this goal and adds to it by acting as both an educational center and a cultural center for the Honey Grove citizens to rally around.

The library itself has over 22,000 items that they can loan out to be read or viewed by the public. They buy new books and other media sources yearly and they also have items donated throughout the year. With an electronic filing system, they can tell you almost instantly whether the item you want is part of their system and when it would be available.

The library acts as an educational center for the community in a variety of ways. One way is the access granted to the 10 computers that are set-up for public use in the library. Many people without access to a home computer use them to create resumes, look for jobs, or just to check their email: all at no charge to the user. The library also hosts a “Reading and Science Camp” each year for school students during the middle of June. The classes teach kids about science over the course of six days in a two week period. Last year the class had 90 children attend. In keeping with the education goal, the library hosts classes for individuals wanting to get a GED in order to further their educational and job opportunities for the future.

Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in Honey Grove (2)

Every photography aficionado in the county is most likely aware of the classes held over a 10 week period once or twice a year to help people understand how their cameras work and how to maximize the features of the newer cameras. Other cultural events that are put on at the library consist of English as Second Language classes put on by Grayson County Community College, exhibitions such as the just completed Quilt Show, sewing workshops for all ages, the monthly BEE socials for adults, and a host of other community events throughout the year.

While most every library today faces financial issues, the Bertha Voyer Library is in the unique position of having a foundation to help support their goals and they also receive support from local citizens, the city of Honey Grove, and a large number of memorials donated in honor of others each year.

The history of how the Bertha Voyer Library came to be in Honey Grove is a testament to the power of individuals to choose their own paths and follow their dreams for a better life.

It all started back on April 15, 1940 when the private, non-profit foundation now known as the Hall-Voyer Foundation was first created. The original foundation was created by the donation of over $300,000 worth of real estate by Dr. David Graham Hall, the first Harvard Medical School graduate to practice medicine in Dallas, Tx at the time. Dr. Hall was widely known as the “Squirt Gun Doctor” because the large hypodermic syringes he used in his practice. In 1890 he used typhoid shots in Dallas for the first time and due to the novelty of the treatment he was threatened with hanging by some of the local citizens.

The other part of the foundation name was due to Richard F. Voyer, an attorney in Texas who set up the Texas Social Hygiene Association in Austin in 1939. The purpose of the association was for the prevention and control of venereal disease, and to lobby for better public health in Texas.

Both Mr. Hall and Mr. Voyer came together in 1940 to form the Hall-Voyer Foundation and charged it with providing for the treatment and prevention of communicable diseases, primarily venereal disease, and to promote ways to accomplish this task. In addition, the foundation also worked on the promotion of community and social welfare.

During the 1940’s and 50’s the foundation worked mostly in the Dallas area to set up projects focusing on blood tests for venereal diseases, mainly syphilis, and primarily for citizens that were above indigent levels of income, as 95% of all venereal disease control by the government was focused on the indigent population. They also gave free blood tests through people’s physicians at the time and were instrumental in getting a law passed requiring a blood test before marriage. With the advent of penicillin and the eradication of most of the venereal disease present at that time, the foundation decided to change its focus.

In 1960, the foundation moved to Monkstown, Texas as Mr. Voyer was looking for a low income county that did not have a public health service and Fannin County fit that profile. While in Monkstown, the foundation set up the Monkstown Community Center, a ball field, youth programs, movies, socials, trips to the Texas State Fair for the community on a chartered bus, and rabies vaccination clinics. The foundation was commissioned by the Fannin County Commissioners court to conduct a public health survey, led by Dr. Ira Hiscock, President of Public Health at Yale University. This survey led to the construction of the Fannin County Hospital, which opened in 1972 in Bonham.

The City of Honey Grove approached Mr. Voyer about moving the foundation to Honey Grove, and in 1961 Mr. Voyer moved both the foundation and his family to a beautifully restored two story home on East Main Street in Honey Grove. The foundation had also taken on the goals of civic programs such as libraries and other projects that would benefit society at large.

One of the first projects taken on once relocated to Honey Grove was the establishment of the Honey Grove Public Library, which opened its doors on April 27, 1962, mainly due to the efforts of Bertha Voyer’s vision. The library moved into its present location in 1963 and was renamed the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library after Mrs. Voyers’ death in 1985. While many small towns have to fund their libraries all own their own, the Hall-Voyer Foundation still contributes over $70,000 annually to the library’s operation, not counting the use of the building.

A Friends of the Library organization was started in 1985 to help support and promote the library. The group is instrumental in assisting with exhibits, programming, public relations, and fund raising. Malinda Allison, the current president of the Friends of the Library organization is committed to seeing the library continue to serve all the needs of the community and continue to grow so that they can continue to do so for many years to come.

Through the years many have been suspicious of the Foundation’s activities, not understanding that the foundation’s role is that of giving without receiving anything in return. That is sometimes a hard concept to understand in today’s society. Other times people have tended to want the Foundation to do everything. Notwithstanding the fact that it would not be possible, is the fact that just as giving a child everything it thinks it needs does not help its citizens. People need to be involved in what happens in their town and work to make it happen. The Hall-Voyer Foundation always stands ready to work with any citizen or group to achieve something that will benefit a large number of people. One of Mr. Voyer’s most important philosophies was taken from a quotation made by Andrew Carnegie, one of America’s most noted philanthropists; it is that we help those who help themselves.

The Hall-Voyer Foundation stands ready to devise programs to benefit Honey Grove and the surrounding areas in the State of Texas. If you’re ever in Honey Grove, stop by and visit the library and check out all it does for the city and county.

The library is located at 500 N. 6th St. in Honey Grove. They can be contacted at 903-378-2206 and would be glad to help you if they can. While their service area is listed as Honey Grove, they also service many citizens outside the city limits and do it all free of charge.

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