Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection
Thousands of news photographs, negatives, clippings, and printed materials created by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that chronicle the history of Fort Worth and West Texas are housed in the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The collection consists of approximately 179,500 photographs, ca. 1849-1986, contained in 281 boxes (169 linear ft.) There is often a clipping of the photograph as it appeared in the newspaper, along with its caption, attached on the back. Nearly three million film negatives, 1915-1990, accompanied by a cross-referenced index card system, are housed in negative file cabinets. Most of the film negative envelopes also include a clipping of the photograph as it appeared in the newspaper. Negatives, which were made but not used in the newspaper story for which they were created, are also part of the collection. There are 1,118 glass negatives in 66 boxes. The glass negatives are not open for research at this time. Printed materials, ca. 1889-1986, consist of a vertical file in which World War II subjects are emphasized, but also includes pamphlets, booklets, sections of issues, and clippings related to Fort Worth and Star-Telegram history. Architectural drawings of many Fort Worth and Metroplex buildings are a part of the vertical file along with a scrapbook of advertising materials, 1911-1941, and the Star-Telegram’s Fort Worth centennial issue, 1949. Index cards describing World War II Texas servicemen and a card index to oil wells in Texas and New Mexico, 1944-1970s, round out the varied collection
Processing of the collection involved sorting 115 oversize boxes of photographs that were received from the Star-Telegram library in mid-1984. The photographs were sorted into series, as it was determined that the Star-Telegram staff had originally organized them, namely subjects, people, sports, early prints, and oversize prints. The negatives arrived in the original cabinets and with the index card system as they were used at the Star-Telegram. This order has been retained. The glass negatives were cleaned and placed in acid/lignin free four flap envelope enclosures before storage. Several staff members and assistants have worked on the collection through the years. The collection has three basic document types: photographs, negatives, and printed material organized into eight series divided into subseries with the exception of the photographs. Each photograph category has its own series. They were arranged in order of projected use. Subjects and people are more frequently requested than sports or early materials.
The photographic prints, the bulk of which date from the 1920s and into the 1970s, were used by the paper to illustrate local, national, and international news stories. Approximately 50% of the photographs are news service wire photos or publicity photographs; these are identified either by a news service stamp on the verso, by a credit line underneath the photo as it appeared in the newspaper, or by a news service caption attached to the print. The other half, were taken by Star-Telegram photographers. Since the newspaper made every effort to chronicle the growth and development of West Texas, its photographs of the many towns and cities in the region are an important part of the collection. The photos include views of streets, municipal buildings, commercial buildings, parks, schools, colleges, hospitals, military installations, and special events, such as parades, ceremonies, and natural disasters. There are approximately 1,400 town and city views, which include about 500 aerial views. Many of the aerial views were taken for a 1938 series called "Texas from the Sky." The Star-Telegram covered Fort Worth in great detail; there are approximately fifty aerial views of the city as well as several thousand photographs of important buildings, railroads, highway projects, dams, parks, airports, military bases, universities, and amusement parks. Local events, such as the 1936 Fort Worth Centennial celebration, the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, the circus, social events, local natural disasters and goods manufactured in the area, particularly airplanes, helicopters, and missiles are also included. Series 1, Subjects, and Series 5, Oversize Photographs, list specific subjects in the photograph collection.
Photographs of Texas People form the better part of the Star-Telegram collection, are an invaluable source for the history and biography of the region. There are photographs of many people who made news from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Area businessmen, oil men, cattlemen, cowboys, rodeo stars, the Texas National Guard, sports figures, coaches, teams, soap box derby participants, bands, choral groups, actors, congressmen, families, judges, physicians, soldiers, beauty queens, clergymen, authors, aviators, criminals, socialites, firefighters, teachers, and award-and-prize winners, and many others. Series 2, People, contains primarily portraits or formal poses of individuals, families, or professional groups. Candid shots of people, large groups or groups not identified by name, and individuals or families in a specific setting, such as a cattleman depicted on his ranch or a large choral group, may also be found in Series 1, Subjects. Older, more fragile photographs of people are also found in Series 4, Early Texas, and in Series 5, Oversize Photographs. Of particular note are photographs of Amon G. Carter, Sr. and family, some of which show Carter with Will Rogers and Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower; photographs of Lyndon Johnson and his family; and John Nance Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice-president.
The Star-Telegram subscribed to the major news services and carried their photographs. Included in the collection are wire photos of people, places, and events in the U.S. and abroad. For example, there are files on the British royal family, American presidents from Truman to Nixon, and Adolf Hitler, as well as files on many nations of the world, primarily scenes of familiar landmarks and "human interest" photos. World War II photos depict events of the European and Pacific theaters as well as the Red Cross, field hospitals, prisoners, and supporters on the home front. The newspaper also carried stories on major criminal cases, such as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping; natural disasters, such as the 1938 hurricane; and adventures, such as the Byrd Antarctic Expedition or endurance and long-distance flights from the period of early aviation. A number of photographs were published that were issued by the armed services and by companies wishing to promote their goods and services. These include automobiles, aircraft, computers, farm equipment, and other products.
Over the years it is estimated that the Star-Telegram published approximately 50% of stories originating from Fort Worth and Texas and 50% from outside sources on a great variety of subjects. The subjects include art, atomic power, baseball, camps and dude ranches, circuses, country clubs, dams, the Democratic Party, department stores, farming, fires and fire fighting, football and football stadiums, kidnappings, Abraham Lincoln, Miss America and other beauty pageants, New York City, policemen, prisons and jails, railroads and train wrecks, the Republican Party, rodeos, schools, the space program and astronauts, television, veterans, George Washington, and women, to name but a few. The Star-Telegram routinely received publicity photographs of national and international sports figures and entertainers, which remain in the collection.
Series 3, Sports, ca. 1888-1979, centers on baseball, especially semi-professional teams, such as the Fort Worth Cats; football, in particular college teams; and golf, primarily the Colonial Country Club scene and the tournaments held there each year. Players, coaches, and teams dominate the series. Other major sports figures depicted include those who participated in basketball, tennis, car racing, horse racing, track, and swimming. Representatives of recreational sports are also included in this series, but only in small numbers. There are a few team photographs, stadiums, and action scenes, but this is a minor part of the collection. Major league figures and action photographs are found primarily in the negatives.
Series 4, Early Texas, is composed of photographs, ca. 1849-1922, most of which are Texas scenes, 1870-1919. There are more than 380 photographs in this series, many of which are reproductions of early shots by photographers from local studios or individuals not associated with the Star-Telegram. The earliest photograph is a reproduction of a sketch of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1849. There are no photos between 1849-1870. The photographs are arranged first by size, then by subject. All titles in this series are listed or fully described in the index. The primary subject is Fort Worth banks, businesses, residences and events. However, there are several street scenes of cities and towns in North and West Texas and several railroad and West Texas ranch views.
Series 5, Oversize Photographs, is comprised of prints that are larger than 8" x 10." They are related to the photographs in series 1-4, but were separated because their size prohibited storage in the same location. The prints are arranged by size; within each size alphabetically by subject. Sizes vary from 11" x 15" up to 20" x 24." A title or description of each photograph or group of photographs is included in the index. Nearly one-third of this series is aerial views of Texas cities, towns, lakes, and dams.
The film negatives in Series 6 are accessed by a cross-referenced index card file. The emphasis is on Fort Worth and Texas, 1915-1990. Numerous subjects, people, events, and sports are covered in the negatives as well as historic scenes of Fort Worth and other Texas cities. The negatives are primarily 4" x 5" to the early 1960s, when 35mm film became popular and was used almost exclusively thereafter. Color negatives are found more frequently in the later years. There are three boxes of 5" x 7" sports negatives, specifically baseball, 1949-1963; and football, 1948-1962. A few 8" x 10" negatives are also included in the collection, namely undated negatives of Will Rogers; the Bob Hope Show, 1949; theStar-Telegram city room, 1949; and All Saints Hospital, 1959. Glass negatives are also part of this series, 1915-1935, bulk 1927-1935. The subjects include aviation topics, crimes, the Star-Telegram’s facilities, Amon G. Carter, Sr. and family, and scenes and buildings primarily in Fort Worth, but there are some scenes in Arlington and a few Metroplex towns. The glass negatives are not indexed in the index card file; there is a separate index describing them.
Series 7, Printed Material, contains approximately 513,000 clippings, 1920-1960, with clippings on Vietnam into the early 1970s. These clippings are of major news articles (as opposed to articles about sports figures, entertainers, or events of minor importance) and are arranged alphabetically either by subject or by the name of the featured person or organization. They are an important adjunct to the photographic print files. Additional printed material in this series includes a vertical file which contains a variety of clippings, headlines, and published items concerning various aspects of Fort Worth history, Star-Telegram history, and a great deal of information about World War II, both the European and Pacific theaters, but particularly military units and specific battles and battleships. A small amount of printed material is included about World War I, such as a series about the war published in 1964, by the North American Newspaper Alliance, information on the Texas Panther Division, U.S. Army locations and composition at the end of the war, and descriptions of a winter offensive. Other material in Series 7 includes oversize architectural drawings of hospitals, residences, schools, and other buildings located primarily in Fort Worth; a scrapbook which contains Star-Telegram advertising and printed materials, 1911-1941, which demonstrates the progress of the newspaper; and a copy of the centennial issue, October 30, 1949, celebrating Fort Worth’s first 100 years and the Star-Telegram’s move into a new building. This issue is also on microfilm.
Series 8 of the collection is organized in two subseries: Servicemen’s Records and an Oil Well Index. The servicemen’s records contain approximately 18,800 index cards, which describe World War II servicemen principally from Texas. Information given includes the serviceman’s rank, company, military branch, parents, parents’ address, spouse and family and their address, wounds, medals, and commendations. A number of cards refer to the "Lost Battalion," a famous group of Texas soldiers who were imprisoned by the Japanese in Java. The vertical file in Series 7 also includes information on Texas servicemen and prisoners of war. The oil well index is a collection of approximately 170,000 cards consisting of an index of oil wells in Texas fields, 1944 to the early 1970s. The cards are arranged by county and give information on the ownership, financing, and production of each well. Information on the driller, production figures or non-production, depth of the well, drill stem test information, potential production based on the test, and changes in ownership are also recorded. These files are important because the information is of practical value. For example, it is noted at what depth oil or gas was encountered, as well as water, and if it is a dry hole, important for persons wishing to drill in a similar area. The subterranean topography can be mapped through this information and in fact structural maps are based on it.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives was described in 1985, as "the finest such collection on Texas history available" by noted archival appraiser/manuscript dealer, Kenneth R. Rendell of Boston. "Its research value extends far beyond Fort Worth and West Texas, but in these two geographic areas, it is the only historical record in existence." He also noted that the Star-Telegram archives are more valuable because newspaper libraries are not readily accessible to the public. In addition, "The wire service photographs, while undoubtedly paralleled in other newspaper morgues, are rarely open to the public, and few have been given to public institutions." See also the appendix for a copy of an essay by Rendell, "History and Importance of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram.