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 Dora Ella Watson Nichols  (1892 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: Texas/Arkansas      Known for: landscape painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Dora Ella Watson Nichols
An example of work by Dora Ella Watson Nichols
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dora Ella Watson Nichols was born 11 March 1892 in Arkansas, the daughter of James and Mary George "Mamie" Hollingsworth.  Mary was widowed by 1900 and living with her four children and her parents in Donald Township, Franklin County, Arkansas. According to a brief biography of Dora by the University of Texas Arlington (UTA), she moved to Texas when she was eight years old. Mary was living with her parents and children, including Dora, in Erath County, Texas in 1910. Dora's occupation was listed as "Teacher". Mary was later married to Will J. Hicks who was employed as a "Merchant, Retail Feed Store" in Arlington, Texas in 1920. He was 73 and his wife was 50. Dora was living with her mother and stepfather, employed as a "Teacher, College".    

Dora graduated from Arlington High School in 1907. She graduated from Baylor University in 1913 with an A.B. in French and Spanish. According to Browningiana in Baylor University, Dora Ella Watson submitted a work to the Baylor faculty titled The Browning Country. This submission was part of her work for a Masters of Arts degree, which was conferred in 1917. The 1940 census indicated that she had completed 5 years of college. Her ties with the University of Texas suggest that she may have attended or been a member of the faculty of that institution, as well.

The yearbook of Howard Payne College, The Lasso, reported that Dora was a member of the faculty there in 1916. The 1917 Baylor Alumni Directory noted that she was teaching Spanish at Baylor and had been a "Burleson Fellow" 1916-1917. The Baylor Bulletin, Volume 22 Issue 1 (1919), Baylor University,  reported that "Miss Dora Ella Nichols is teaching Spanish at the State College, Arlington, Texas". Dora Ella Watson was a teacher at Decatur Baptist College in 1920. By 1930 Dora was married to Henry Milton Nichols and still living in Arlington. Her mother was living with them, then widowed. Henry was employed as a "Proprietor, Barber Shop" and Dora as a "teacher, public school".  The couple, and Dora's mother, were still living in Arlington during the 1940 census. Dora's occupation was "teacher, high school". 

According to the University of Texas at Arlington biography, Dora started working as a teacher at Arlington High School in 1933, retiring in 1958. The biography also mentioned that she was a "noted Arlington artist". Nichols Junior High in Arlington is named for her.  She was a painter in oils and watercolors.

Where she obtained her training as an artist is not known. Along with well-known local artist Josephine Mahaffey, in 1966 she founded the Starving Artists of North Texas, later the Arlington Visual Arts Association. Though few examples of her work are easily found, those are extremely well done. It would seem logical that she would be mentioned in the Dictionary of Texas Artists or Petteys Dictionary of Women Artists, but she is not. She is mentioned in Davenports Art Reference and Price Guide and on   

Dora's estate left funds to the University of Texas which were used to create "The Shakespeare Club of Arlington Scholarship". The city of Arlington named Dora E. Nichols Junior High School after Dora and awards and scholarships are given in her name.   

Dora died on 19 February 1982 in Arlington. Henry Milton Nichols died in 1954 and both are buried in Parkdale Cemetery, Tarrant County, Texas.

Researched, written and submitted by Kevin Daniel, University of Illinois graduate student of Library and Information Science with a focus on art Cataloging.

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