In Dallas, the arrival of the fall season may or may not deliver cooler temperatures, but one can always count on the State Fair of Texas to bring plenty of pig races, cattle contests, craft exhibits, corn dogs and yet another new way to fry food.
The Dallas Morning News collection, part of the Belo records, holds manuscripts and visual materials related to the publication of Dallas’ longest surviving newspaper. Beginning with its very first issue on October 1, 1885, The Dallas Morning News started chronicling the life of a city that was rapidly growing, and it was common for journalists to cover the planning efforts for the State Fair that would open its doors a year later on October 11, 1886. Not only did the newspaper promote the State Fair in its pages, but it also celebrated it by festively decorating the outside of its building, as this early 1900s photograph attests.
By the 1930s, the State Fair of Texas had been well established as an annual tradition, and the locals anticipated the opening day as illustrated in this September 26, 1930 drawing by cartoonist John F. Knott.
For more than a century, carving has been a staple attraction at state fairs around the country. In addition to the famous butter carving, sculptors used a variety of media to promote their art throughout the time. Take, for example, this replica of the WFAA Radio Station broadcasting plant. Carved out of 7,000 pounds of Ivory Soap, “enough to last a family 170 years,” the sculpture by 15-year-old Mike Owens was one of the most popular exhibits at the 1930 State Fair in Dallas.
Twenty years later, live television brought the fair into people’s living rooms, as pictured in this photograph of a cooking demonstration broadcasted on the WFAA Chanel 8 in 1950.
Dallas has changed in many ways since the 1880s, when both the Texas State Fair and the publishing industry were in their infancy. However, the crowds still fill the fairgrounds today as much as they did then.
Contact Librarian Ada Negraru for more information or assistance accessing the materials in the Belo Corp. records.
“Will electronics replace the housewife?” was the title of a 1958 tongue-in-cheek promotional piece for household appliances printed in Texins, Texas Instruments employees’ magazine. In addition to being a leader in oil exploration and the defense industry, the company’s advancements in infrared optics, transistor and vacuum technologies were positioning it as a contender in the larger consumer products market. Touting the benefits of employing ultrasonic research and solar energy in the design of vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and dishwashers, the piece predicted jokingly that “when all of these innovations become available, the housewife of the future will probably have to equip herself with a degree in physics or electrical engineering if she is going to remain useful as well as ornamental.” Nowadays, this choice of words would be seen as a poor attempt at humor, if not downright offensive. But at the time the article was merely banking on the proverbial stereotype surrounding the woman of the 1950s, whose main role as a housewife made her the perfect target for consumer advertising.
Defeating the stereotype? The many women employed by Texas Instruments and its predecessor Geophysical Services Inc. (GSI), starting in the 1940s as manufacturing laborers, switchboard operators, and office clerks. In 1952, the personnel roster of the GSI Dallas office listed twenty-two women among the 59 employees. By May 1961, after Texas Instruments had expanded and opened several national and international divisions, the company’s personnel census listed 17,604 employees, 7,517 of them women; 102 served in salaried, managerial positions (compared with over 3,700 of the men), although the large majority were hourly workers.
Assembly line technicians, quality assurance specialists, typists and stenographers, office clerks, receptionists, librarians, administrative assistants, engineers, accountants, team supervisors, technical writers, and many other roles have made women an indispensable part of the workforce in a male dominated industry. Women possess the skills such as high precision, finesse, and attention to detail acquired through specialized training. Many have earned college and advanced degrees, although applying their education to their positions proved challenging in the earlier years.
Nelle Johnston graduated in 1942 with a B.A. in library science from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) and had briefly worked as a librarian before changing directions to the oil industry. She joined GSI as a stenographer in 1947, but she was soon assigned administrative duties as secretary to then manufacturing division manager Patrick Haggerty and controller Carl Thomsen. Johnston also kept records of the company’s military proposals, contracts and purchase orders of geophysical equipment. When GSI was reorganized as Texas Instruments Inc. in 1951, Johnston became secretarial assistant to co-founders and board leaders J. Erik Jonsson, Patrick Haggerty, and Eugene McDermott. She aided in the creation of the employee organizations Texins Association and Texins Credit Union, and also authored the first editions of TI and You, the company’s welcome brochure for new employees. In 1956 Johnston became involved with the Pilot Club of Dallas, which operated the Pilot Institute for the Deaf, and was named chair of the board in 1958. She was instrumental in the formation of the Callier Hearing and Speech Center in 1962, and in 1978 was the first recipient of the award established in her name by the center.
Patricia Brown earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in 1947, as the school’s first woman engineering graduate. She continued her studies at the University of Texas, obtaining a M.A. in Chemistry with a minor in Chemical Engineering in 1949. Brown specialized in technical writing and information science organization. She worked for several industrial and research laboratories before she became the Supervisor of Information Services at Texas Instruments in Dallas 1957, where she oversaw the opening of the research library in the new Semiconductor building. A feature in the fall 1961 issue of the company’s Texins magazine detailed that Brown’s role was to “provide information before TI engineers are aware they need it,” but also cited her “concern over America’s failure to seek out and utilize female engineering talent.” An advocate for cultivating the advancement of women in the engineering and science fields, Brown joined the Society of Women Engineers in 1951 and helped establish local sections in Detroit and Columbus, Ohio. She was elected the organization’s president in 1961, and was named a fellow in 1990.
When Gloria Moreno Verbeek started her engineering career as a process engineer at Texas Instruments in 1971, shortly after graduating with honors from North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) with a B.S. in chemistry, she was the first woman engineer in the wafer fabrication department, and one of the company’s only six women engineers at the time. During her thirty-year tenure at Texas Instruments, Verbeek earned a master’s in management and administrative science from UT Dallas and in 1995 became TI’s worldwide manager for supply quality, overseeing the company’s supply training and supplier relations in the United States, Japan, Europe, and South-East Asia. By the time Verbeek retired in 2001, more and more women were holding professional and high executive positions, as the company had started to intentionally seek the hiring and development of female talent and advanced technical training.
Texins for the employees of Texas Instruments Incorporated issues: April 1955, March 1957, September 1958, Fall, 1961
New Year, new processing project for the Archives of Women of the Southwest. Archival processing is a crucial element of collections care; it’s how we begin to know what materials are included in a collection, how we ensure preservation, and the first step in making our collections available to the public.
This year I am kicking off with the papers of Natalie Ornish. During a research appointment last fall, it became apparent that I did not know as much about Mrs. Ornish or her work as I would need to in order to assist patrons with accessing her materials. With only a brief catalog record available I set out to understand her life and career. I took a deep dive into the unprocessed boxes in order to put together a more descriptive and accessible record of her papers.
Natalie Ornish was a Jewish Texas businesswoman, philanthropist and historian. Ornish did years of research to uncover the history of Jews in Texas and published several texts on the subject. Daughter of George Israel and Bess Moskowitz, Natalie Gene Ornish was born on February 14, 1926 in Galveston, Texas. She was 14 when she graduated from Ball High School in Galveston, 17 when she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Sam Houston State Teachers College, now Sam Houston State University. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., the youngest person at the time to receive a graduate degree from Northwestern.
She was an editor for The Associated Press in Omaha, Neb., before returning to Galveston, where she worked in public relations. In 1949 she married Dallas dentist, Dr. Edwin P. Ornish. Following her stint in PR, Ornish founded Dallas Records and Natwin Creative Productions. As she raised her family, Ornish worked on an array of projects, beginning with lyrics for two long-playing records, Songs for Suburban Children, released in 1957, and The Ages of Childhood, in 1966. She also wrote a musical, Just Twelve, about the angst of being a preteen, which was produced at Dallas’ Theatre Three and Casa Mañana Theatre in Fort Worth.
Mention the word “wireless” today, and the mind associates it with signal quality, upload or download speeds, or instant messaging. However, it was radio broadcasting that pioneered wireless communication at the turn of the twentieth-century.
Last month marked 100 years since WRR started to broadcast in Dallas as the city’s first public radio station. While wireless communication was decades old and had been by the military during World War I, public
radio broadcasting was gaining rapid popularity in the early 1920s. By June 1922, North Texas would acquire two more radio stations, WBAP in Fort Worth and WFAA in Dallas. The latter was owned by A.H. Belo and Company, publisher of the local newspaper The Dallas Morning News.
G.B. Dealey, director and later owner of A.H. Belo and Co., was sold on the public radio broadcasting idea by his eldest son, Walter Allen Dealey, Sr., whose childhood hobbies included experimenting with makeshift telephone equipment and code transmission. Walter, soon to be vice-president of the Belo Corp., persuaded his father to investigate radio broadcasting as the up and coming mass communication means that was threatening to replace print journalism.
WFAA started broadcasting in Dallas on June 25, 1922, and its first studio was located on the roof of the Dallas Morning News building on Commerce street. It shared transmission frequencies and audience with WBAP, founded a few months earlier. The two stations alternated transmission times.
Programming included news and weather bulletins, market reports and baseball scores. Specially equipped vehicles assisted with remote news reporting. Musical programs filled a significant portion of the schedule. An accompanying piano was present in the broadcasting studio from early on, but recordings of popular artists of the time were also played. In the 1930s, orchestra and vocal groups started broadcasting live, and programs such as “Mrs. Tucker’s Show,” “The Early Birds,” and “Saturday Night Shindig” became public favorites.
Listening to the radio remained a favorite pastime even after the arrival of television broadcasting in Dallas in the late 1940s. In 1954, the Dallas based Texas Instruments began marketing the world’s first commercially manufactured transistor radio, Regency TR-1. Minuscule in size compared to the old consoles that had furnished countless family rooms, the portable transistor radio allowed for carrying the news and the music in one’s pocket.
Radio did not replace print journalism as Walter Dealey feared in 1921. It only proved that there was room for another kind of mass media to fulfill people’s appetite for information and entertainment.
Schroeder, Richard. Texas Signs On: The Early Days of Radio and Television. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.