Postscript to Part 5, Researching Texas Photographers


A Lady Writing, ca. 1665, by Johannes Vermeer; National Gallery of Art, Gift of Harry Waldron Havemeyer & Horasce Havermeyer Jr. in memory of their father Hrace Havermeyer  

Silly me, I left the University of Texas, Austin out of my sources for Researching Photographers Working in the South – Texas.  As I was doing my three mile walk today (OK, actually just under three) I thought, “Oh, did I include UT Austin in yesterday’s post?” The answer is NO, so with the listing below I will try to make amends.

Perhaps it is because I always think of them as a source for researching United States and world photographers, which is true. It seems I never think of them in terms of only Texas photographers and I have actually been to that University in Austin to research Georgia photographers, so could that have clouded my thinking? Always excuses, right?

The University of Texas, Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has over 5 million photographs.  Of that number about 750,000 images are in the Texas Photographs Collection.  This collection even has the first daguerreotype made in Texas that can be dated (1849).

The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection of the South Texas Border Area has over 8,000 items dating from 1900 to 1920 made by this commercial photographer. It can be searched via the Library of Congress American Memory site (as The South Texas Border 1900-1920).

Runyon’s photographs document Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley, the Mexican Revolution, and Texas-related events leading to the American entry into World War I.  His studio photographs portrayed the people of Brownsville in the early 1920s.

Documentary photographer Russell Lee moved to Austin in 1947. The Russell Lee Photograph Collection includes his series on the Spanish-speaking people of Texas (1949-1952), as well as other photographs made in Texas and the southwest.

The Bob Bailey Studios Photographic Archive provides a rich history of life in Houston for over sixty years, 1932-1998. Bob and his brother Marvin and their photographers documented Houston and area in black and white and color with still and motion pictures. The collection is divided into these two format types.

Many other collections highlighting the work of Texas photographers located in the Briscoe Center for American History can be researched here

The other major collection located on the campus of UT Austin which contains materials by Texas photographers is the Harry Ransom Center.

This repository has the fantastic Gernsheim Collection, as well as several collections by major nineteenth and twentieth century still and motion picture photographers (Lewis Carroll, aka Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Elliott Erwitt, etc.), and again I think to myself “World Photographers.” Although I may discuss this collection in detail in another post, for now let’s think about the Ransom’s images by Texas Photographers.

Their Photography Collections Database is here, but not that many are yet digitized:

Included is The Walter Scott Adkins Collection which has over 5000 photos and six albums, 1890-1955, although these are not all images are of Texas. Subjects related to the state include mining in West Texas, and Texas landscapes and aerial views. There are also photographs here collected by Adkins.

The E.O. Goldbeck Collection, 1890s to 1970s, is particularly interesting, although not entirely photographs of Texas, he is a Texas photographer. Eugene Omar Goldbeck lived and died in San Antonio, Texas (1891 – 1986), and he founded the National News & Photo Service in San Antonio. He was known for his panoramic and “Cirkut” photographs of the military, various organizations, and other groups of persons around the United States like ball teams, beauty contestants, and mass baptisms.The Collection holds over 1,000,000 photographs including his panoramas.

The Goldbeck Collection is even more unique because it contains more than 1,000 feet of Goldbeck’s inventories and business records – Goldbeck  invented modifications to his Folmer Graftex Cirkut Camera, patented his camera mountings, and built special scaffold towers.

You can see some of Goldbeck’s images here:  and here:

There is a wonderful book on his work by Clyde W. Burleson and E. Jessica Hickman  called The Panoramic Photography of Eugene O. Goldbeck (Univ of Texas Press, 1986). The book is out of print but can be had via your library or its interlibrary loan division.

Finding aids to the Ransom Center collections can be searched here

I hope I have covered all the important parts of researching photographers at UT Austin, if I have not, feel free to tell  me so, I promise not to take offense.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without  written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Frances Osborn Robb · · Reply

    The Gernsheim collection is truly phenomenal. Some years ago my husband David was researching the history of natural and manufactured ice, and I was looking for something I hadn’t
    seen before (who knows what?). I asked to see an early computer inventory, very basic of part of the Gernsheim collection. The printout listed a stereograph by Hughes. That was it. I knew that one Hughes had worked in Mobile AL for a few years after the civil war, and on the off chance, I asked to see it. The staffer who brought the photograph said, Well Mrs. Robb, you can look at one half and your husband at the other. It shows an ice factory (and at home I had the photocopies from the Mobile Register that explained all). It was one of the earliest ice manufactories in the southeast and the earliest photo I know of an ice factory in Alabama. David and I published a little article on the stereo in the newsletter of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society newsletter, since their very fine archive had led me to making the photocopies. Thanks to all those volunteers who clipped the Mobile papers, wrote dates on them, and make this resource available! The point of all this: leave a little time for serendipity to happen. Give yourself a chance to look at poorly cataloged materials. Something exciting may happen! A reproduction of the stereo and the short version of the story of ICE will be in my forthcoming book Shot in Alabama…1839-1941 (U of Ala. Press 2014). Frances Robb

    1. Lee Eltzroth · · Reply

      Thanks for your comments, Frances, yes it is an amazing collection and the repository itself is amazing. I had the most wonderful time looking at Georgia photographers’ work there at the Ransom, and I spent an entire day there although I was in Austin “for pleasure” – it was a pleasure to me to be there! They had the best security of any repository I have been in, and I have been employed in several and have conducted research in many others.

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