Robert La Forte Papers, 1923 - 2005Add to your cart.

By Rachel Motes

Collection Overview

Title: Robert La Forte Papers, 1923 - 2005Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates: 1954 - 2005
ID: 02/17/ U0141
Extent: 42.0 Boxes
Arrangement: This collection consists of 5 series: Personal, Professional, Community Involvement, Oversized Items, and Separated Materials. The boxes within this collection were delivered with no folders or order, resulting in its’ contents being organized by the processing agent into folders by topic or type of material. The folders themselves are arranged in alphabetical order within their Series [and sub-series] while their contents are either organized alphabetically or chronologically as appropriate.
Date Acquired: 00/00/2005. More info below under Accruals.
Languages: English


Papers and family photographs of late Professor Emeritus of History faculty member and first university Archivist, Robert S. La Forte, who laid the groundwork for the creation of the University of North Texas Archives.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

These papers, photographs, and artifacts document the life of late Professor Emeritus of History and first university Archivist, Robert S. La Forte, who laid the groundwork for the creation of the University of North Texas Archives which was later officially established in 1975 by UNT President C. C. Nolan.  They include images and papers from his childhood, his time in military service, and from his personal and professional life, which includes his interest in prisoners of war in World War II.

Collection Historical Note

Robert Sherman La Forte was born on September 8, 1933 in Frontenac, Kansas as the second child of Modest Nathaniel La Forte and Josephine Ann La Forte [née Slapsak].  He grew up and went to school in Frontenac along-side his sister Rose Josephine La Forte [later to become Mrs. Alai].  By May 24, 1951, he had graduated from Frontenac High school.

Following that, throughout the combined years of August 1952 to May 1954 and January 1957 to February 1958, La Forte went to school at the Kansas State Teachers College where he later received a Bachelor’s of Science in Education.  During the time between the above listed dates, from 1955 to 1957, La Forte served in the U.S. Army were he attained the rank of Specialist Third-Class.  In addition to his time spent at school and in military service, La Forte also married Margaret Ann Colegrove in 1954, had his first son Mark Francis La Forte in 1955, and then in 1958, La Forte divorced his first wife.

After that portion of his life, Robert La Forte went on to the Kansas State College of Pittsburg (September 1958 to August 1959) where he earned a Master’s of Science in History followed by a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from the University of Kansas in Lawrence (September 1959 to August 1964).  In 1959, he also married his second wife, Frances Ann Crain, and later had two sons with her, Geoffrey Louis La Forte in 1963 and Russell Andre La Forte in 1965.

His educational background also includes receiving a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin after taking classes there from June 1967 to August 1968.

Beyond spending most of his time in Higher Education earning different degrees, La Forte also worked in various institutes of higher learning.  From 1959 to 1962, he taught Western Civilization at the University of Kansas and then from 1961 through 1964, he taught History.  After his time spent there, La Forte went on to teach History at the East Texas State University from 1964 to 1967 and then in 1968, he began teaching History at the North Texas State University (NTSU).

While employed at the NTSU (and later known to as the University of North Texas), Robert La Forte took part in numerous instructional, scholarly, professional, and community service activities.   He served as Chair of the History Department and on several university committees until his retirement in 1998.  He helped to establish the UNT Archives in 1975 and even co-wrote several books: Remembering Pearl Harbor: Eyewitness Accounts by U.S. Military Men and Women, Building the Death Railway: The Ordeal of American POWs in Burma, 1942-45, With Only the Will to Live: Accounts of Americans in Japanese Prison Camps, 1941-45, and Down the Corridor of Years: A Centennial History of the University of North Texas in Photographs, 1890-1990.  After his retirement from UNT, La Forte donated a collection of hundreds of books to the UNT Archives regarding World War II, mostly by and about prisoners of war.  In addition to all of this, La Forte also served on several City of Denton committees and in various other organizations.

Robert S. La Forte died at the age of 80 on July 11, 2014 after a long battle with cancer.

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 Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to use.

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: University Archives
Accruals: 1979-028, 1980-030, 2005-007
Acquisition Source: Robert La Forte
Acquisition Method: Gift
Separated Materials: "A Collection of The Cowboy Poems of Tex West, DC Ph, with Alvin G. Davis: The Cowboy Poet Lariat of the Plains of Texas" edited and with a foreword by Alvin G. Davis has been separated from this collection to be placed within the Texana Collection.
Preferred Citation: Robert La Forte Papers, University of North Texas Special Collections.
Finding Aid Revision History: 11-28-2016; 05-03-2017; 05-16-2017; 05-19-2017


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