A new online offering, the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection (“Cook Collection”) is now available. The Cook Collection, held by the DeGolyer Library, is a wonderful resource for research in Dallas and Texas history. DeGolyer Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU’s Central University Libraries special collections.
A native Dallasite, George W. Cook (1949-2012) was a life-long collector, with a focus on Dallas and Texas primary sources. He had a special interest in photographs, postcards, advertising souvenirs, trade cards, badges, family collections, documents, art, postal history, and three-dimensional objects such as signs, regional porcelain and glass, and architectural ornaments. He was also fascinated by the State Fair of Texas, the 1936 Texas Centennial, and the history of aviation.
The strength of Cook’s collection lies in its visual images (over 2,200 photographs and 12,000 postcards), but there are also significant manuscripts, diaries, albums, bank notes, ephemera, books, pamphlets, broadsides, and objects related to the city of Dallas and Texas. Chronologically, the collection ranges from a promissory note signed by Davy Crockett in 1829 to photographs of carhops at Sivil’s drive-in in mid-century Dallas. There are approximately 20,000 items altogether – a rich collection with a wide range of materials related to Dallas and Texas history!
A variety of items from Series 3: Photographs from the Cook Collection are available online:
Portraits: Included in the portraits are 13 cased images of the family of noted businessman and inventor John Milton Oram. During his lifetime, Mr. Oram developed one of the largest jewelry businesses of its time in Dallas, Texas, and due to his influence and inventive skills, he constructed and installed the first telephone in Dallas, making it one of the first cities in the country where a telephone was operated as a useful method of communication. Cased photographs include those of John Thompson Oram and Elizabeth Trimble Dyer Oram, John M. Oram’s father and mother, and various siblings and family members. Also of note is a cased photograph of Junius (June) Peak (1845-1934), Confederate veteran, Dallas city marshall and Texas Ranger.
Stereographs: The stereoviews primarily show street life in Dallas ca. 1870s-1919, particularly along Main Street and Elm Street. Also depicted are the Exposition Building in Fair Park, ca. 1906; the Fourth Dallas Courthouse, ca. 1871-1875; and the Second Annual Folly’s Reign Parade, 1877, as well as several businesses vital to the initial growth of Dallas, including grain and flour mills, lumberyards, stationers, grocers, and druggists. Early methods of transportation in Dallas are portrayed, including electric streetcars that appeared in the city in 1902, and one of the earliest photographs of the Texas & Pacific depot, ca. 1873-1873 at Lamar and Pacific Avenue. In addition to the Dallas stereoviews, several cards show scenes of Galveston after the 1900 Hurricane, as well as President McKinley arriving by train at Del Rio, Texas, ca. 1901.
Postcards: Dozens of printed and real photographic postcards showing various buildings and scenes throughout Dallas, including the Dallas Morning News buildings, the Jefferson Hotel, the Magnolia Building, St. Paul’s Sanitarium, and the Exposition Building in Fair Park, which would eventually become part of Centennial Hall in 1936. Also online are five panoramic, real photographic postcards, including two of the Dallas Skyline, 1914, showing the same scene taken both during the day and at night; the busy Public Square in Commerce, Texas, 1908; cutting alfalfa in Wharton, Texas, ca. 1904-1907; and two depicting the Galveston beach and the Beach Boulevard, 1917-1919. The Crystal Palace Cafe and Bathhouse, Galvez Hotel, Murdoch’s Bathhouse, and the Seawall are among the landmarks seen in the postcards.
Location Photographs: Included in the location photographs of Dallas are the Old Union Depot in East Dallas, ca. 1905; the old Dallas Federal Building and Post Office located on Ervay Street, 1906; and a construction site at the intersection of North Ervay and Elm Street, 1902. There are also photographs of two agents of the Anti-Automobile Theft Association, which had relocated to Dallas in 1920, and the the Commerce Street Bridge during the 1908 Flood of the Trinity River. Another group of 4 large panoramic photographs shows the early stages of the construction of the Dallas-Oak Cliff Viaduct from the Dallas side of the bridge in 1911.