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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

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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 12: Exhibit PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Box 291: Copy Prints and NegativesAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 703046
Folder 1: Copy Prints: Virginia Military InstituteAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Copy Prints: World War IAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Copy Prints: American LegionAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Copy Prints: Diplomatic ServiceAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Copy Prints: Owsley in Dallas, TexasAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Copy Prints: Women's SchoolAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Copy Prints, MountedAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Copy NegativesAdd to your cart.

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