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In the early 1900s, it was common for college home economics programs to have practice homes where women learned how to cook, clean, run a household, and more. This was mostly done as a way to prepare young women to become good wives.

From 1919 to 1969, many colleges across the United States included a practice baby into their curriculum. This was typically an orphaned child that was cared for by the students in order to learn how to be a mother with hands-on experience. Texas Tech was one of these schools to have a practice baby, and her name was Barbara Ann Hinsley.

Barbara was born in 1936 and was the first practice baby at Texas Tech. Her mother died during child birth, leaving her and her eight siblings without a mother under the care of an overworked father. Not wanting to give his newborn child up, but also not knowing how he’d care for her, Dr. M. C. Overton, the man that delivered Barbara, stepped in to help.

Overton met with a professor at the college and discussed adding the baby to their program. That is how the child ended up in the care of the students in the home management course at Tech.

Barbara lived in the practice house until she was three years old, moving to her aunt and uncle’s farm in Bledsoe, Texas, and moved back in with her father when she was 13. She eventually got married and lived a long happy life of traveling, and spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Texas Tech University posted to their social media yesterday announcing Barbara’s recent death. Lubbock will always hold a piece of her and her memory will fondly live on forever.

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