Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection, 1880-2013Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

By S. Ivie and A. Michalek

Collection Overview

Title: Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection, 1880-2013Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
ID: 01/ AR0769
Extent: 319.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Materials are arranged into nine series. Series 1: Byrd Williams, Sr.,contains photo prints relevant to the first generation of the Byrd Williams family. Series 2: Byrd Williams, Jr., contains photo prints relevant to the second generation. Series 3: Byrd Williams III contains photo prints, negatives and slides relative to the third generation. Series 4: Byrd Williams IV contains photo prints, negatives and slides for the fourth generation. Series 5: Generations contains photo prints relative to multiple generations of the Williams family.  Series 6: Papers contains family records and papers from the early 1900s up to the present day as they are represented by each generation. Series 7: Vintage Prints and Negatives contains photo prints and negatives from earlier periods in the Williams family in addition to photo prints and negatives which could not be designated elsewhere in the collection. Series 8: Publications contains periodicals and published materials where generations of the Byrd Williams family appear, or reflects ownership of stated publications, with primary focus on Byrd Williams III and Byrd Williams IV.  Series 9: Artifacts contains objects spanning the entire history of the Byrd Williams family since the 1880s.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Byrd Williams family photography collection documents four generations of Texas photographers with the earliest images from this collection dating back to the 1880s and with the most recent work coming from Byrd Williams IV.  All four generations of photographers in the Williams family have been known as Byrd Moore Williams.

The Williams family's interest in photography started with Byrd, Sr., in the form of family portrait photography. Byrd Williams, Sr. operated a hardware store in Gainesville which sold cameras. Early prints were developed in a darkroom in the family's home. Byrd, Jr., known as Byrd II, who studied at the University of Texas (1905-1907), worked as an engineer, expanding on the family tradition by incorporating imagery in forms other than portraiture, which included landscapes and city scenery.

Byrd Williams III (1913-1986), continuing the family's legacy, became the first to delve into a full-time photography profession when he opened Byrd Photo in Fort Worth in the 1950s. Prior to this, Byrd Williams III worked for Kodak and several other photography companies in addition to being involved in lense manufacturing. The Williams family photography business also included a portrait studio. Along with these studio portraits, customers could have a photograph painted over in oils, giving it the appearance of a painting - or oil paintings, based on these photographs, would be created by Byrd's wife, Doris Williams. Charles Williams, Byrd's brother, was also affiliated with the company.

Byrd Williams III also explored photography on his own terms as a fine art. Through his images, he documented street scenes and the people of Fort Worth, which was developing rapidly in the mid-20th century.  Many of his black and white images during the 1930s and 1940s are rich narratives of varied subject matter, showing a confidence both in approach to composition and emotive content. With the work of Byrd Williams III, we see photography develop into a unique way of making a personal statement. This is carried on in another way through the work of his son, Byrd Williams IV.

In the photographs of Byrd Williams IV (1951-    ), we see the work of an artist. Mr. Williams, a prolific, exhibiting photographer, who has shown in the United States and abroad, is the first in his family to seriously pursue a career aside from the commercial aspect of photography.  Williams, a Collin County College professor, also shares his ideas and knowledge of photography to show others its purpose and application as a fine art medium.  Fort Worth's Legendary Landmarks is one of many publications in which the work of Byrd Williams IV has appeared.  He is a frequent contributor to D Magazine, in addition to having work appearing in exhibition catalogs such as Ortsbeschreibungen and Focus Trier.

Subject/Index Terms

Access Information

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 Archives and Rare Books department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use.  Boxes 160-170, 263, 269, 270-271 and 321 are housed in the Research Collections Library.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Acquisition Source: Byrd Williams IV
Preferred Citation: Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection, University of North Texas Special Collections


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