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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.
Date Acquired: 00/00/1976. More info below under Accruals.
Languages: English

Request Items From This Collection


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
Accruals: 1976-010, 1978-005, 1980-028, 1981-030, 1982-041, 1991-001, 1992-013, 1997-023, 1999-008
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 and David 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 10: PublicationsAdd to your cart.
The books in this series have been separated from the boxes in the collection.  Please request them by their individual bar codes.
Drawer 1: Alvin Owlsey BooksAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 642698
Item 1: The Bomb, 1909Add to your cart.
The yearbook for the Virginia Military Institute, which Alvin Owsley attended.
Barcode: 1001467484
Item 2: Texas Under Many Flags, Volumne 1, 1930Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467488
Item 3: Texas Under Many Flags, Volume 2, 1930Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467492
Item 4: Texas Under Many Flags, Volume 3, 1930Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467496
Item 5: Texas Under Many Flags, Volume 4, 1930Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467500
Item 6: Texas Under Many Flags, Volume 5, 1930Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467504
Item 7: Ireland Beautiful by Wallace Nutting, 1925Add to your cart.
A letter from Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  to Alvin Owsley is pasted into the book.
Barcode: 1001467508
Item 8: History of the American Legion by Marquis Jones, 1923Add to your cart.
The book is signed by Marquis Jones.
Barcode: 1001467482
Drawer 2: Alvin Owsley BooksAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 642699
Item 1: Helpful Hints to Singers by Stella Owsley, 1937Add to your cart.
Stella Owsley was Alvin Owsley's sister.
Barcode: 5001731236
Item 2: Voyages of Nicholas Ball from 1838 to 1853, 1895Add to your cart.
This book documents the work and travels of one of the ancestors of Lucy Ball Owsley, the wife of Alvin Owsley.
Barcode: 5001731237
Item 3: National Social Directory, 1962Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467477
Item 4: American Blue Book: Texas Attorneys by H. James Boswell and Son, 1926Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467481
Item 5: Directory of Indiana Manufacturers by the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, 1921-1922Add to your cart.
This volume has information on the Ball Jar Company.  This company was founded by Lucy Ball Owsley's father and his brothers.
Barcode: 1001467485
Item 6: Owsley Family Heritage Book by Beatrice Bayley, 1981Add to your cart.
Barcode: 5001731238
Item 7: Owsley Family In England and America 1635 - 1890, 1890Add to your cart.
Barcode: 1001467470
Item 8: History of the American Legion by Richard Seelye Jones, 1946Add to your cart.
This book is signed by the author.
Barcode: 5001731239
Item 9: American Legion in Texas by Carrie Wilcox, 1951Add to your cart.
Barcode: 5001731240
Item 10: V. M. I. in the World War by Joseph Reid Anderson, 1920Add to your cart.
V. M. I. is the Virginia Military Institute.
Barcode: 5001731241
Item 11: Virginia Military Institute Register of Former Cadets 1839 - 1939, 1939Add to your cart.
Barcode: 5001731242
Item 12: Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, 1937Add to your cart.
Frank Clayton Ball was Lucy Ball Owsley's father.
Barcode: 5001731243

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