Texas Industry Photographs, 1936-1970, by Robert Yarnall Richie

[Pilots Walking Towards Aircraft Hangar, Pepperell Manufacturing Company], Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, February 1943, by Robert Yarnall Richie

[Pilots Walking Towards Aircraft Hangar, Pepperell Manufacturing Company], Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, February 1943, by Robert Yarnall Richie

Now online are 1,066 photographic prints and negatives depicting non-oil-related Texas companies (ca. 1936-1970), taken by Robert Yarnall Richie (1908-1984). The photographs are part of the DeGolyer Library’s Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection, which consists of industrial and corporate photographs taken by Richie throughout his career. The photographs complement a previous project to digitize and make available 1,238 of Richie’s Texas oil-related negatives. Both projects were funded by Texas Treasures grants from the Texas State Library and Archives.

The non-oil-related images showcase over three decades of Texas industrial growth, including companies, places, and events that helped shape Texas during the mid-20th century. The photographs include both well- and little-known businesses in sectors, including heavy industry, machinery, chemicals, airlines and aircraft , railways, shipping, automobiles, food and beverage production, entertainment, technology, and electricity and power.

[1952 Pontiac Chieftain DeLuxe Catalina, Dow Chemical Plant, General Motors Corp.], by Robert Yarnall Richie

Workers at a Dow Chemical Company plant in Freeport, Texas, with a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain DeLuxe Catalina in the foreground.

Richie’s photographs, which include many aerial shots, provide a unique context by documenting industrial facilities (many of which have been greatly altered since the images were taken or no longer exist), along with the equipment and processes critical to their operation. Also featured are many images taken during World War II that are valuable from a socio-cultural point-of-view, including, for example,  images of workers. Of note are photographs of women workers in various industries during World War II as well as women working after the war.

[Coronation of Rose Queen, Frances Connally, Life Magazine], September 30, 1938, by Robert Yarnall Richie

[Coronation of Rose Queen, Frances Connally, Life Magazine], September 30, 1938, by Robert Yarnall Richie

Photographs of many hallmarks of Texas society, culture, and infrastructure are depicted in Richie’s work, including Texas football and stadiums, cityscapes, and urban development. Annual events such as the Texas Rose Festival in Tyler, Texas and the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show  are included. There are several images of buildings and features around the University of Texas at Austin campus in 1949, such as The Tower, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, and Littlefield Fountain. Other notable Texas structures and monuments include the Texas Capitol Building, San Jacinto Monument, and Pecos River High Bridge.

The aerial photographs digitized as part of this grant depict myriad aspects of Texas. Whether viewing Houston, Dallas, Texas City, the company town of Newgulf (considered a virtual ghost town today) or specific estates or ranches, these unique views capture Texas’ history, art,  and culture throughout the mid-20th century. Some of these ranches and estates belong to notable individuals in modern Texas history such as Paul Raigorodsky, Eddie Rickenbacker, J. B. O’Connor, Everette Alan Craft, and Theodore Newton Law. There are a number of aerial and non-aerial photographs related to James Smither Abercrombie, his family, property, business interests and charitable works. Forty-three images pertaining to the Raigorodsky family and property are in the collection. Paul M. Raigorodsky testified before Mr. Albert E. Jenner, Jr., assistant counsel of the President’s Commission (the Warren Commission) on March 31, 1964. His testimony described his relationship with George De Mohrenschildt, a friend and associate of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Richie, a mid-century modernist, had a lengthy list of Texas-based industrial clients, and the number of Texas assignments represented in the collection is indicative of this fact. The companies he photographed include Continental Carbon Company, Texas Gulf Sulfur (Sulphur) Company, General Motors Corporation, Galveston Wharf Company, American Airlines, Lone Star Cement Company, Champion Paper and Fiber Co., Houston Power & Light Company, Lockheed Aircraft/Delta, Sloane-Blabon Corporation, United Carbon Company, Moran Towing Company, National Lead Company, Dayton Rubber Co., Eastern Airlines, Jones and Lamson Machine Company, Texas & Pacific Railroad, DuPont, E.I. de Nemours & Company Inc., Texas-Illinois Company, Sakowitz Bros. Department Store, Southern Pacific Railroad, and more.

Texas State Library and Archives CommissionInstitute of Museum and Library ServicesA total of 2,304 photographs of Texas industry, 1936-1970, were made available from grant funds. In FY2013 digitization of 1,238 of Richie’s Texas-oil related photographs was funded by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission as part of the TexTreasures program. A follow-on grant in FY2014 supported the digitization of 1,066 non-oil related Texas photographs. The TexTreasures program was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

by Brandon P. Murray, Digitizer/Metadata Creator, Central University Libraries, SMU

About Cynthia Boeke

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