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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 7: ArtifactsAdd to your cart.
Box 100618: HatAdd to your cart.
Box 100624Add to your cart.
Contains World War I communication container; two walking canes; and two souvenir gold clubs.
Barcode: 628228
Box 100626Add to your cart.
Contains spat; three Romanian costume fragments; double brested blazer; and a Romanian sash.
Barcode: 628227
Box 100630Add to your cart.
Contains a skirt; vest; wool coat; riding pants; and a belt.
Barcode: 628254
Box 100631Add to your cart.
This box also contains artifacts from the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Records.
Barcode: 628229
Box 100632Add to your cart.
Contains a wooden and brass plaque; leather picture; necklace; and belt.
Barcode: 628255
Box 100633: Two SkirtsAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 628230
Box 100651Add to your cart.
Contains the following: ten personal plaques; American Legion Silver; American Legion 1966; American Legion Founders; American Legion Outstanding Service; Carl Estes: American Legion; three Century Club - YMCA; Century Club Park Cities; Dallas Federal Bar Association; Mrs. Owsley at National Gaurd.
Barcode: 628232
Box 100668: Also boxes 100670 and 100679Add to your cart.
Contains World War I feed bag and belt; bead necklaces; a Sam brown belt; painted ivory backs; pen set; three paper weights; Signature stamp; Navy paper weight; and Kitchen scene artwork.
Barcode: 628235
Box 100669Add to your cart.
Contains a canvas wallet; gloves; napkin; hat; wall hanging; Batik wall hanging; woven belt; socks; fingerless mittens; hat; envelope; handkerchief; cap with legion pin; Canadian Veterans cap; and fabric remnants.
Barcode: 628236
Item 100672: Picture of Sheraton Hotel, Denton TexasAdd to your cart.
Box 100681Add to your cart.
Contains gas mask bags, remnants, and tube: a card with cloth covering; three stirrups; two chunks of metal; silver box; chicken device; cake candle; traveling clock; card case; pot holder; forty stones; case with spectacles inside; and a silver box.
Barcode: 628251
Box 100682Add to your cart.
Contains a bamboo pole in six sections; picture frame; two tassels attached to cords; cuff links and pen; American flag with car mount; key to Jackson Mississippi and presentation box; key to Atlantic City; redwood Night stick; key to Neward New Jersey (broken); Nigh Stick Bat award; locket in a box; and a thimble.
Barcode: 628250
Box 100690Add to your cart.
Contains a horse show ribbon; souvenir; chief badge; horse show ticket and two pins; nine medals; a medallion; medal from France; American Legion; wooden key from Boston; ID Badge; wooden key from Maine; two gavels; wooden key; silver plate from Copenhagen; Democratic National Conventino 1932; and a sign plate plaque.
Barcode: 628247
Item 100671: System Center Poster Royce WestAdd to your cart.
Box 100693Add to your cart.
Contains Presiden name plate; VMI Centennial ribbon (1939); twelve medals; 1968 National Convention medal; Lion International button; three badges; Order of the Elks medal; ribbon and patch; 1962 National Convention medal; National Commander medal; Guest Medal; Glover Cleveland Medal; American Legion medal; two 1964 National Convention medals; ten buttons and bars; Tarrant County for Senate ribbon; Atlantic City Special Delegate badge; plate; plaque; 1962 National Convention ribbon; and a Distringuished Guest pin.
Box 100694: Gas Mask and CaseAdd to your cart.
Box 100695Add to your cart.
Box 100706Add to your cart.
Contains three medals; hair from David; hair from Lucy; American Legion; one medical bracelet; two fans; lace handkerchief; sword shaped letter opener; 1951 medal; 1969 medal; name tag; address stamp; family stamp; invitation stamp; and Bells stamp.
Barcode: 628380
Item 100735: RugAdd to your cart.
Box 100673: Ocelot PeltAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 663144
Item 100672a: Picture of Sheraton Hotel, Denton TexasAdd to your cart.
Barcode: 5001932813

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