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Alvin Mansfield Owsley Collection, 1904-1972 | Manuscripts

By Bridgett Tanner and Laura Treat; Perri Hamilton; Rachel Motes

Collection Overview

Title: Alvin Mansfield Owsley Collection, 1904-1972Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates:1922-1965
ID: 01/HM.15
Extent: 3010.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Series 1-3 are arranged according to topic and described at folder level. Series 4-9 are arranged according to material type and topic and are described at folder or item level.
Languages: English

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Abstract

The Owsley Collection contains the documents of statesman and attorney Alvin M. Owsley (1888-1967) and his family. The collection contains materials pertaining to Alvin M. Owsley's activities as a soldier in World War I; his election as National Commander of the American Legion in 1922 and subsequent lifelong association with the American Legion; his ambassadorships to Romania, the Irish Free State, and Denmark during the 1930s; his involvement in political campaigns, speechmaking, and radio and television programs; and his practice as a Dallas attorney.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection documents the activities of Alvin M. Owsley; his wife, Lucy Ball Owsley; and their children, Alvin Jr., Constance, and David. The extensive collection includes photographs, correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, scrapbooks, transcripts, financial records, artifacts, posters, printed material, 16mm film reels and VHS tapes, and an audio cassette. These materials document all aspects of Owsley’s professional activities including his experiences as a soldier in World War I; his election as National Commander of the American Legion in 1922 and subsequent lifelong association with the American Legion; his ambassadorships to Romania, the Irish Free State, and Denmark during the 1930s; his involvement in political campaigns, speechmaking, and radio and television programs; and his practice as a Dallas attorney. Photographs, correspondence, records, and scrapbooks also document Alvin M. Owsley’s early years as a student at the Virginia Military Institute and as a boy growing up in Denton, Texas.

The collection also contains extensive materials documenting the activities of Lucy Ball Owsley including diaries, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, records, film reels, club memberships, and other materials. Lucy Ball Owsley’s father, Frank C. Ball, and his company, the Ball Corporation, are also represented within the collection through photographs, correspondence, clippings, records, publications, and other printed material.

The personal lives of Alvin M. and Lucy Ball Owsley are represented through photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and home movies documenting their family life and travels. Genealogical records, publications, and correspondence for both the Owsley and Ball families are also included.

Collection Historical Note

A soldier, statesman, attorney, and gifted orator,  Alvin Mansfield Owsley was born in Denton, Texas in 1888 to Alvin Clark and Sallie Owsley.  He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and attended the University of Texas to study law before being admitted to the Texas bar in 1912 and subsequently serving a term in the Texas Legislature.  He was serving as county attorney in Denton when the outbreak of World War I compelled Owsley to resign from his legal practive and volunteer for military service.  During the war, Owsley served with the 36th Infantry Division in France where he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.  Following the war, Owlsey became active in the American Legion and was elected national commander in 1922.  In 1925, he married Lucy Ball, the daughter of the Ball Brothers Glass Company founder, and he and Lucy soon expanded their family to include Alvin M. Owsley, Jr., Constance Owsley, and Thomas David Owsley.

Owsley's commitment and dedication to service to his country continued in the 1930s as he was named United States Ambassador to Romania in 1933, the Irish Free State in 1935, and Denmark in 1937.  Following his departure from diplomatic service in 1939, Owsley resided for a short time in Muncie, Indiana before returning to the North Texas area and resuming his legal practice in Dallas, Texas.  A gifted orator, he also continued to make use of his noted public speaking skills by giving many speeches and broadcasts on various topics with the theme of Americanism a particular favorite of his and becoming a radio and television personality.  He also continued to remain active in the American Legion and was instrumental in planning and bringing the American Legion's National Convention to Dallas, Texas in 1964.  Alvin M. Owsley died in Dallas, Texas in 1967 at the age of 78.

Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Access Restrictions: This collection is not restricted.
Use Restrictions: Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Physical Access Note: This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use. Oversize boxes 742-758; 841-855; and Series 6, 8, and 9 are stored in vault and require a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use.
Acquisition Source: Lucy Ball Owsley
Acquisition Method: Gift
Preferred Citation: Alvin Mansfield Owsley Collection, University of North Texas Special Collections.
Processing Information: Manuscript materials processed by Bridgett Tanner. Media processed by Laura Treat.
Finding Aid Revision History: Rachel Motes processed the accretion of [Box 43: Reel to Reel Tapes] to this collection on July 7, 2017 and of [Box 310] on August 9, 2017.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:


Series 9: Media, 1927-1947, undatedAdd to your cart.

This series contains 16mm films and VHS tapes. The 16mm films include home movies of the Owsley family in the United States, Denmark, Romania, and Ireland, government produced films about World War I, and a television broadcast of an awards dinner. Many of these films were digitized in 2015 and are available in The Portal to Texas History. This is indicated in the notes field for each item.

The VHS tapes in this series appear to be earlier duplications of the films.

Box 1: Film Reels, 1927-1947, undatedAdd to your cart.
Items are numbered according to the labels on the original cans.
Item 3A: Legion in Paris and Battle Scenes, ca. 1928Add to your cart.

1 film (09 min., 04 sec..) : si., b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-002)

This Kodak-produced news reel, "Ten Years After," concerns the state of France ten years post WWI. The film begins with a 1927 parade down the streets of Paris by the American Legion. Featured are General Gouraud (France), Mayor James J. Walker of New York, and General Pershing. The film also contains shots of war-damaged buildings, memorials and statues, and empty battlefields.

Item 4A: Debutantes, Constance Owsley, 1947Add to your cart.

1 film (08 min., 01 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-003).

The film can contained a handwritten note which is difficult to interpret: "Debutante Leila Susan Sailer? Kay Harrington Nancy B?, Joan ?, Constance. The original leader read "08785 KC Dupe 179."

This amateur film, directed by Robert M. Curry and presented by the Idle Wild Club of Dallas, features the 1947-1948 debutantes and their escorts. Women featured include: Leila Houseman, Nancy Burrus, Suzanne Sailer, Beverly Bragg Smith, Kay Harrington, Joan Adams, and Constance Owsley. The title card identifies this film as a "Personal Movies Production."

Item 5A: Freedom Award Dinner of Order of Lafayette, December 03, 1962Add to your cart.

1 film (13 min., 12 sec..) : sd. (optical), b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-004).

This film footage, presented by Life Line, shows the activities of the Order of Lafayette Freedom Award Dinner held December 03, 1962 at the American Hotel in New York, NY to honor distinguished leadership in combating Communism. Representatives from the New York County American Legion, National Legion of Greek-American War Veterans, Polish-American Patriotic Society, The Society of American Wars, and the Catholic War Veterans were present. Also present were Katharine St. George, Rear Admiral John J. Bergen, U.S. Senator John L. McClellan, and broadcaster Fulton Lewis, Jr. President General of the Order of Lafayette, Hamilton Fish, presided over the ceremony.  Presenters and award recipients included Princess Diane Eristavi, Anna Chennault (widow of the Flying Tigers Commander Claire L. Chennault), James H.R. Cromwell, former Governor of New Jersey Charles Edison, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, Major General Hugh J. Casey, Ambassador Spruille Braden, Colonel Alvin M. Owsley (00:7:37-00:8:31), General Robert E. Conden, and M.L. Hunt.

Item 3B: Untitled Film Reel, ca. 1946Add to your cart.

1 film (03 min., 46 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. Film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-005).

This home movie footage includes the Owsley family and children.

Item 4B: Kentucky Derby, ca. 1944Add to your cart.
1 film (02 min., 14 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-006).
Item 5B: Leland-Judge Owsley; Leland-Chrystal Downs-Owsley (Judge O.) and Others, circa 1936Add to your cart.

1 film (11 min., 44 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-007).

This home movie footage includes footage of  children riding horses; a  party at a house on the coast; a parade which appears to be for the 1936 Presidential Election; women standing in front of rows of fruit jars; and people at the Highland Park train station.

Item 6B: Alvin Jr., Constance, and David in Dallas; Judge Owsley and Lottie in Denton, 1927, 1936Add to your cart.

1 film (10 min., 19 sec..) : si.,  b&w, col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digtiized (UNTA_HM15-001-008).

This home movie footage largely focuses on children playing. A section of the film was out of focus and much of the beginning of the film had significant physical damage.

Item 7B: Owsleys, ca. 1936Add to your cart.

1 film (11 min., 54 sec..) : si., col., b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-009).

Film can contains two handwritten notes: (1)" Toward end a glimpse of the Manhattan-Sign-Ireland - Eng" (2) "1936 David - Leland Fish Houses and Nets Chrystal Downs Alvin Jr. - with fish-Judge O - Boney with fish - Sail on Manhattan Oct. 7-1936 Send off by Mr. and Mrs. Frank C. Ball Mr. and Mrs Fred J. Petty Alvin and ? on boat"

This home movie includes footage of men and children posing with fish; a dinner party; and people boarding  a ship in  Manhattan, NY.

Item 8B: England, Cobh, Leland, ca. 1937Add to your cart.

1 film (14 min., 11 sec..) : si., col., b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-010).

This home movie incorporates title cards and includes footage of Ann Hathaway's Cottage (United Kingdom), Cobh (Ireland)  in June 1937, Minnetrista, and the launching of the Owsley family boat "The Rosemary" in July 1937. 

Film can contains handwritten note: "1. Anne Hathaway's Cottage 2. Stratford-on-Avon 3.? 4. Leland a. Launching of the Rosemary."

Item 10B: Untitled Film Reel, ca. 1937Add to your cart.

1 film (05 min., 19 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-011)

Film contained in Kodascope film box manufactured in Great Britain. Box contains 2 handwritten notes that both read "Kennilworth and Warwick Castle June 1937". Box also contains title cards--some of which appear to have been used in Item 8B. The title cards read: "Launching of the Rosemary, July 1937," American Minister Mr. Alvin Owsley presents credentials to H.M. King Christian X," "Anne Hathaway's Cottage," "Leaving Cobh June 37," "Leland," "Minnetrista," and "Solyst."

Item 11B: Untitled Film Reel, ca. 1946Add to your cart.

1 film (11 min., 23 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-012).

The film can contains a handwritten note: "Southern Indiana and Northern KY?- ? Father and david etc. - NY - leaving."

This home movie includes footage of a trip to Indiana including Clifty Falls in Madison, IN, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, and what appears to be one of the Ball family homes in Muncie, IN.

Item 12B: V.M.I. WilliamsAdd to your cart.

1 film (05 min., 15 sec..) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-013).

The film can contains two handwritten notes which are difficult to interpret: (1) "Picnic with the ? (the consul general) on Island of ? Off of Copenhagen 1938" and (2)"1938 Denmark - boat scene picnic on small island of ?in ? Between Denmark and Sweden dogs in kennel"

This home movie footage includes a boat ride and people playing with dogs. The footage appears to have been taken in Denmark.

Item 13B: Untitled Film ReelAdd to your cart.

1 film (1 min., 59 sec.) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-014).

This home movie footage includes a seaside picnic. The footage appears to have been taken in Denmark.

Item 14B: Untitled Film ReelAdd to your cart.

1 film (13 min., 35 sec.) : si., col. ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-001-015).

This home movie footage includes footage of people gardening and posing with flowers as well as a livestock event. The footage appears to have been taken in Denmark.

Box 2: Film Reels, 1927-1928, undatedAdd to your cart.
Items are numbered according to the labels on the original cans.
Barcode: 641360
Item 1: Owsleys Oak Loan circa 1920s, circa 1928Add to your cart.
This envelope contains 1 VHS tape and 1 film (2 min., 15 sec.): si., b&w ; 16mm. The film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-001). It is likely that the VHS tape is an earlier duplication of the film. This home movie footage includes children playing.
Item 2: America Goes Over: Reel 4 of 5, 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (17 min., 58 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-002).

The envelope containing this film is labeled "Item 2: World War I (4)." This film is the 4th of 5 reels in the  US Army Signal Corp produced film, "America Goes Over," documenting the activities of the American Expedetionary Forces in World War I.  The film was produced in 1918 and this print was likely produced ca. 1927

Item 3: America Goes Over: Reel 5 of 5, 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (15 min., 32 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-003).

The envelope containing this film is labeled "Item 3: World War I (5)." This film is the 5th of 5 reels in the US Army Signal Corp produced film, "America Goes Over," documenting the activities of the American Expedetionary Forces in World War I.  The film was produced in 1918 and this print was likely produced ca. 1927.

Item 4: America Goes Over: Reel 1 of 5, 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (16 min., 05 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-004).

The envelope containing this film is labeled "Item 4: World War I (1)." This film is the 1st of 5 reels in the  US Army Signal Corp produced film, "America Goes Over," documenting the activities of the American Expedetionary Forces in World War I.  The film was produced in 1918 and this print was likely produced ca. 1927

Item 5: American Goes Over Reel: 3 of 5, 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (20 min., 49 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-005).

The envelope containing this film is labeled, "Item 5: World War I (3)." This film is the 3rd  of 5 reels in the US Army Signal Corp produced film, "America Goes Over," documenting the activities of the American Expedetionary Forces in World War I.  The film was produced in 1918 and this print was likely produced ca. 1927.

Item 6: America Goes Over: Reel 2 of 5, 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (15 min., 48 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-006).

The envelope containing this film is labeled, "Item 6: World War I (2)."  This is the 2nd of 5 reels in the US Army Signal Corp produced film, "America Goes Over," documenting the activities of the American Expedetionary Forces in World War I.  The film was produced in 1918 and this print was likely produced ca. 1927.

Item 7: Untitled Film Reel, circa 1928Add to your cart.

1 film (02 min., 16 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-007).

This home movie footage includes children playing with their parents.

Item 8: Owsley, circa 1928Add to your cart.

1 film (02 min., 13 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-008).

This home movie footage includes children dressed in Native American costumes and playing in a sandbox.

Item 10: Owsley, circa 1928Add to your cart.

1 film (04 min., 06 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-009).

This home movie footage includes children posing in front of landmarks in Chicago's Lincoln Park, including the John Peter Altgeld Monument.

Item 11: Owsley 2, circa 1927Add to your cart.

1 film (04 min., 29 sec..) : si.,  b&w ; 16 mm. This film has been digitized (UNTA_HM15-002-010).

This home movie footage includes children playing.

Box 3: VHS Tapes; Audio cassetteAdd to your cart.
 
Barcode: 641358
Item 1: VHS Tape: 1A-5AAdd to your cart.
 
Item 2: VHS Tape: 1B-6BAdd to your cart.
 
Item 3: VHS Tape: 7B-15BAdd to your cart.
 
Item 4: VHS Tape: Owsley in Denmark presenting his credentials to the KingAdd to your cart.
 
Item 5: VHS Tape: Alvin Jr. and Lucy in Dallas, Alvin Jr. and Lucy at Lincoln Park in ChicagoAdd to your cart.
 
Item 6: VHS Tape: Early DallasAdd to your cart.
 
Item 7: VHS Tape: Early DallasAdd to your cart.
 
Item 8: VHS Tape: WWI Film produced by the War Department; 5 reelsAdd to your cart.
 
Item 9: VHS Tape: Romania, Owsley children, Denmark, RomaniaAdd to your cart.
 
Item 10: VHS TapeAdd to your cart.
 
Item 11: VHS TapeAdd to your cart.
 
Item 12: VHS TapeAdd to your cart.
 
Item 13: VHS TapeAdd to your cart.
 
Item 14: Audio cassette: Alvin M. Owsley speech for WilkieAdd to your cart.
 
Box 43: Reel to Reel TapesAdd to your cart.
 
Barcode: 708107
Item 1: Box 844 Tape 1, November 1940Add to your cart.
Alvin M. Owsley speech for Wii… rally November 1940 at Hartford, Conn.
Item 2: Owsley – Lucy Ball Owsley Interview, March 24, 1982Add to your cart.
Interview with Lucy Ball Owsley 3/24/82

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