Jean Andrews (1924-2010)

Jean Andrews

Jean Andrews

Jean Andrews was born in Kingsville, Texas in 1924 and graduated from boarding school in 1940 at the age of sixteen. She attended Texas A&I University in her home town , majoring in Home Economics, although she later transferred to the University of Texas.

In 1944, she spent her honeymoon in Mexico, the first of over 100 countries she would eventually visit. She later took courses in marine science in response to her new-found love of seashells, began painting, and obtained her Master of Science degree in education at Texas A&I University. In 1976, she received her Ph.D. in art from the University of North Texas.

Jean began collecting seashells in Corpus Christi in 1959 and took up scuba diving to expand her collection, eventually diving for shells in the Philippines, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Costa Rica, Panama, the Canary Islands, and the Red Sea. The Jean Andrews Recent Marine Seashell Collection at the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab now consists of over 20,000 specimens and 900 different species (several are currently on exhibit at the Texas Memorial Museum).

View the original Jean Andrews Shell Catalog (1959-1997) (PDF).

In 1971 UT Press published her first book, Sea Shells of the Texas Coast. At her insistence, photos of the shells were included alongside their descriptions, rather than gathered on photo plates at the back of the book. This was the first shell book ever published in this manner, and it has since become the standard method for such guides. She photographed all the specimens herself, because she was unable to find a photographer with the patience and skill to work with subjects too small for a macro lens but too large for a microscope.

In 1984, UT Press published her best-known book, Peppers: The Domesticated Capsicums. Over the previous seven years she had taught herself botany, grown her own peppers, and spent a minimum of forty hours painting each of the book’s thirthy-two illustrations. Along with her 1999 book, The Pepper Trail: History & Recipes From Around The World, it has acquired a reputation as the ultimate source for information on peppers and earned her the (now trademarked) nickname “The Pepper Lady”.

Her collection of tribal clothing from India and Pakistan, which she acquired over the last three decades, was exhibited in 1998 at Gearing Hall on the UT Austin campus. They are traditional garments, not those made for sale to tourists, and are no longer available, because the people in these remote locations now use acid-dyed synthetic threads. For the last seventeen years she had provided financial and moral support to the Cooperativa Artesania, Santa Elena y Monteverde, a co-op of 150 women in Costa Rica who have achieved personal and financial independence by creating unique clothing and other handicrafts. She is also a skilled goldsmith and lapidary, making necklaces and earrings of precious stones such as jade, lapis, and opal.

Jean Andrews received the Distinguished Alumna award from both the University of Texas and the University of North Texas, and she was the first woman to be named to the Hall of Honor in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas. She was a visiting scholar in the original Department of Botany at the University of Texas and has endowed two visiting professorships, one in botany and one in nutrition. She has also endowed four scholarships in memory of her daughter. She delivered the 2003 commencement address to the College of Natural Sciences, was a founding and Honorary Life Member of the College of Natural Sciences Foundation Advisory Council, was a life member of the Texas Ex- Students Association. She died in 2010.


  • Sea Shells of the Texas Coast (1971). Austin: University of Texas Press. Shell photos by Jean Bowers Gates.
  • Shells and Shores of Texas. (1977). Austin: University of Texas Press. Foreword by William J. Clench.
  • Texas Shells: A Field Guide (1981). Austin: University of Texas Press. Photos by Jean Bowers Gates.
  • Peppers: the Domesticated Capsicums (1984, revised in 1995). Austin : University of Texas Press.
  • The Texas Bluebonnet (1986, revised in 1993). Austin : University of Texas Press .
  • An American Wildflower Florilegium (1992). Denton: University of North Texas Press.
  • A Field Guide to Shells of the TexasCoast (1992). Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.
  • Red Hot Peppers: A Cookbook for the Not-So-Faint of Heart (1993). New York : Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Field Guide to the Shells of the FloridaCoast (1994 – Gulf Publishing Company, Houston.)
  • The Pepper Lady’s Pocket Pepper Primer (1998).
  • The Pepper Trail: History & Recipes From Around the World. (1999 – Denton, TX)
    [An anthropological and sociological study of the early spice trade and about the global progress of peppers through various cultures and cuisines, the book contains pepper recipes contributed by an impressive assortment of nationally known chefs. In 2000, it won the IACP Jane Grigson Award for Distinguished Scholarship. Together, The Pepper Trailand Peppers: the Domesticated Capsicums are commonly recognized as the ultimate source for pepper information.]