Texas Tech University

Alumni Focus - Sam Abell

Bachelor of History - 2015

There are many good reasons to study abroad while pursuing a degree at Texas Tech – discovering a new culture, learning a new language, and growing both personally and professionally. One thing is certain, while studying abroad you will have many unexpected experiences. Sam Abell had just such an experience while studying in Seville, Spain – getting an article published in an academic journal, a rare accomplishment for an undergraduate student. Sam worked with his professor, Dr. Doug Inglis, the previous director of the Texas Tech Seville Center, on an article titled “Of Documents and Archives: The First Modern Census of Texas” that was published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly.

Sam Abell

How did you decide to study abroad in Spain?

“I decided to study abroad in Spain during the fall of my senior year because I have always wanted to live in another country and I thought this would be my best opportunity to do so. It turned out to be an excellent experience where I learned a lot and had a great time.”

How did you team up with Dr. Inglis to write the article?

“During my semester in Spain, I took Dr. Inglis's U.S. History class that focused on the southern United States during Spanish colonial rule. The highlight of the class was studying in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, where we were able to read original documents that were sent back to Spain from the New World. The article began as a research paper on the origins of the cattle business in the United States. While researching in the archive we came across the first modern Texas census, taken in 1777, which launched us into writing the larger article.”

What is the article about?

“The article is a study of Spanish bureaucracy and of their communication abilities in the late 18th century. Using the census, as well as other documents from the time, the article shows how the Spanish recorded and relayed information throughout the empire, as well as how such information was used during an interesting time period that included conflict with Native Americans and the American Revolution, among other issues.”

Has getting an article published impacted any aspect of your future goals and dreams?

“While getting an article published has not greatly affected my immediate future, it has affected my long-term goals. I have always been a big fan of history which is why I studied it in college, but I never planned on pursuing it as a career. For the near future I will continue to work in the cattle business, but I thoroughly enjoyed working on the article and would like to have the opportunity to do it again someday. At the very least I would like to study original documents in a place like the Archive of the Indies again.”

Since graduating from Texas Tech with a bachelor's degree in history in 2015, Sam has worked for his family's ranching and cattle operation in Llano, Texas.