Herbert H. Lang

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Herbert Howard Lang
Born (1921-08-16)August 16, 1921
New York City, US
Died January 5, 2006(2006-01-05) (aged 84)
Beaumont, Texas, US
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Years active 1956–1984
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Brian Lang
Children 1

Herbert Howard Lang, known as Herb Lang (August 16, 1921 – January 5, 2006),[1] was an historian of the American West who spent nearly all of his academic career at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Lang was born in New York City to Edward and Estelle Lang. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, when he met his wife of fifty-eight years, the late Elizabeth Brian Lang. After the war, Lang earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees and in 1954 his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation topic was "Nineteenth Century Historians of the Gulf States".[2] Lang first taught at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico. This first assignment (1954–1956) proved fortuitous for Lang in that he became a scholar of the mining frontier of the Trans-Mississippi West. In 1956, Lang joined the TAMU history faculty. He was elevated to full professor in 1965. In his later academic years, Lang was a founder of the TAMU honors program and was the graduate-student history advisor[3] under department chairman Henry C. Dethloff.

In 1970, Lang received an "Achievement Award" from the TAMU Association of Former Students. At the ceremony, Lang said that liberal arts instruction should "liberate man from the tyranny of out-moded man-made habits, assumptions, and institutions . . . [which] restrict the development of his highest potential."[3] The remark is similar to Thomas Jefferson's swearing to God "eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man".[4]

Lang edited and wrote the introduction of the book, Pat Nixon of Texas: Autobiography of a Doctor, by Pat Ireland Nixon (1883–1965), no relation to the former First Lady of the United States.[5] Lang wrote the article "Fort Worth's Role in the Origins of the Helium Industry" in the Year Book of the West Texas Historical Association.[6] Lang wrote "Uranium Mining and the AEC: The Birth Pangs of a New Industry" in Business History Review.[7]

One of Lang's understudies, Dan Louie Flores (born 1948), acknowledges his debt to his mentor in his 2001 book, The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Flores writes that Lang "not only introduced me to environmental history but handed down to those of us who studied the West with him the legacy of Walter Prescott Webb."[8]

On his retirement in 1984, TAMU named Lang a professor emeritus. He and his wife retired to Brenham, the seat of Washington County, Texas. He died at the age of eighty-four in Beaumont, the seat of Jefferson County.[3]


  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  2. ^ "University of Texas: List of doctoral students starting from 1950s". utexas.edu. Archived from the original on December 22, 2009. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Obituary of Herbert H. Lang, Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, Texas, January 7, 2006
  4. ^ ""Thomas Jefferson on Christianity & Religion", compiled by Jim Walker". nobeliefs.com. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  5. ^ Nixon, Patrick Ireland; Lang, Herbert H. (1979). Pat Nixon of Texas: Autobiography of a Doctor. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 0-89096-072-0. 
  6. ^ Herbert H. Lang, "Fort Worth’s Role in the Origins of the Helium Industry", Year Book of the West Texas Historical Association, Vol. 47, p. 127
  7. ^ Lang, Herbert H. (1962). "Uranium Mining and the AEC: The Birth Pangs of a New Industry". Business History Review. 36: 325. doi:10.2307/3111400. 
  8. ^ Dan Louie Flores, The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, p. i. Google Books. Retrieved June 26, 2010.