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Owens, William A., 1905-1990 Anglais
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William A. Owens Papers, Part One

  • TxAM-CRS 23
  • Collection
  • 1922-1979

This collection contains papers documenting Owens' teaching and writing career from 1928 to 1979. Items of special interest in the collection include lyrics to many folksongs and recordings made by Owens in the 1930s and 1940s of folksingers as well as recorded readings of Robert Frost, interviews of early oil pioneers of Texas, legal papers for Owens vs. Fawcett Publications, Inc. and David Holland concerning True magazine's plagiarism of Slave Mutiny, and letters of Roy Bedichek, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Mody C. Boatright.

The correspondence is further separated into three areas: personal correspondence; correspondence with Owens' literary agent, Maurice Crain; and correspondence regarding Owens' books. Some overlapping exists between these areas. In the personal correspondence section, letters discussing Owens' books are largely from friends and fans and are nontechnical in nature. The correspondence with Maurice Crain concerns the publication procedures and business aspect of his writings while the boxes of letters specifically concerning the books deal primarily with the writing and development of the books.

The personal correspondence is arranged chronologically from 1932 to 1975. The letters are concerned with associations and societies to which Owens belonged; speaking engagements by Owens; programs in which he was involved; awards presented to Owens; and Owens' teaching career which includes letters to Owens as Director of Folk Festivals at the University of Texas, as an instructor at Texas A&M University, and as Professor and Dean of Summer Sessions at Columbia University. Other letters concern Owens' service as an Intelligence Officer in World War II and his early work with folksongs. In addition to correspondence from Owens' family and friends, there are letters congratulating Owens on his publications and requesting his literary advice. Of special interest are letters from famous persons such as Grant Wood, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Nelson Rockefeller.

Correspondence with Maurice Crain contains letters from 1950 to 1959. The letters discuss publication and promotional plans for Owens' books and short stories. Other subject areas include foreign and domestic contracts for publication, royalty statements, and motion picture plans for several books.

The correspondence concerning books is arranged in chronological order based on the year of the book's publication. Included are letters regarding contracts with publishers, royalty statements, motion picture rights, and lectures on the books. Numerous letters discuss Owens' research and recordings of folksongs for Texas Folk Songs. Additional correspondence with Mrs. Walter B. Sharp, Dudley Sharp, and other oil pioneers refers to the Oral History of Texas Oil Pioneers.

Material concerning Owens' books includes background material, book reviews, typescripts, drafts, and in most cases galley proofs and page proofs. The boxes are arranged chronologically according to the publication date from the earliest to the last. However, the revised edition of Texas Folk Songs which was published in 1976 is included with the papers of the 1950 edition. Labels that Owens used on the papers, such as the numbers of a draft, have been retained, and where there was no designation of a draft number, the typescript is merely labeled typescript, early draft, or manuscript. The papers include both photocopies and ribbon copies and duplicates of typescripts. Typescript and manuscript are used interchangeably as labels.

The evolution of each of Owens' books can be seen through the background material and copies of drafts. In the first folders are Owens' research material and notes, book reviews, advertisements, and other information pertaining to the book in subject matter. Copies of typescripts, from the earliest to the final edited manuscript are next with the last folders containing galley proofs and page proofs. Through the revisions and changes made by Owens in each subsequent draft, the progressive development of notes and a rough outline into a complete and polished publication is revealed. Papers of major interest include a copy of Owens' doctoral dissertation on folksongs for the State University of Iowa (June 1941) with Texas Folk Songs material, the legal papers from the Owens vs. Fawcett Publications, Inc. and David Holland concerning Slave Mutiny, interviews of oil pioneers of Texas with material for Oral History of Texas Oil Pioneers and Walter B. Sharp biography, and the correspondence of Dobie, Bedichek, and Webb revealing their ideas about many varied subjects included with Three Friends material.

Other writings by Owens comprise the next section of the collection. Articles and short stories are filed alphabetically. Book reviews are grouped together in one folder. Speeches are filed last and are labeled with the title or meeting at which they were given and the date if known. Typescripts exist of most of the articles and short stories, and duplicate copies are retained. Some of these writings occur in their published version and are labeled with the title and date of the magazine in which they were printed. The dates of the other stories and articles are unknown. The subjects of Owens' stories and articles cover a wide range of subjects and span the entirety of his writing career. Published excerpts from his books such as This Stubborn Soil and Tales From the Derrick Floor are included in this group as well.

The personal data concerning Owens contains biographical information such as vitae, resumes, publications concerning programs and lectures in which he participated, and material relating to his teaching career. Additional material documents his years at Columbia University and awards presented to him. Newspaper articles and photographs from 1940 to 1974 concern Owens' many interests and involvement in programs as well as his books and teaching career.

The next boxes in the collection contain miscellaneous material kept by Owens. Many oil history photographs and newspapers articles relating to subjects in which Owens was interested are included. Articles by other authors, some signed by the author and some written by friends of Owens, along with magazines and publications collected by Owens are filed in this section. The miscellaneous publications are divided into three categories: literary publications, college publications, and remaining miscellaneous publications. These deal with a wide variety of subjects in which Owens was apparently interested.

The remaining three boxes contain aluminum discs of recordings made by Owens of various folksingers and country people of the South. Note cards listing titles numbered to correspond with the records are filed with the discs. Owens also made recordings of readings by Robert Frost in 1939, and these provide a valuable addition to the collection.

Copies of Owens' books are shelved with the boxed papers. Oversize items including an advertisement for Three Friends: Bedichek, Dobie, Webb, color prints of the Apollo 11 Lunar Mission, and maps and genealogies for A Fair and Happy Land are housed separately in oversize flat storage.

Owens, William A., 1905-1990

William A. Owens Papers, Part Two

  • TxAM-CRS 24
  • Collection
  • 1940-1980

This collection supplements Part One of William A. Owens, in that it emphasizes the years from 1972 to 1980, yet also contains correspondence written prior to 1972. Therefore, it adds much to the first collection.

The collection is divided into seven categories. These are: Personal correspondence 1940-1980 (Series. 1-3), which also includes some printed reviews of Owens' books; Transcripts of the tapes containing the "Oral History of Texas Oil Pioneers" (Series. 4); Research materials, manuscripts and drafts for unpublished books written by Owens (Series. 5-8); Shorter works by Owens (Series. 9); Works written by other authors (Series. 10), and; Miscellaneous materials and drafts collected by Owens (Series. 11-13). Of special interest in this collection is correspondence concerned with Owens' books, letters from World War II, and the various drafts of books by Owens which have not been published.

Owens' personal correspondence files are further divided into three more specific categories. The first covers primarily the period 1972-1980 but also includes papers dating from prior to this period. This correspondence is broken down alphabetically according to a key word in the subject, name, company, or book. Within the letter grouping the papers are filed chronologically. The undated material follows the last dated papers. The compilers of the collection attempted as much as possible to keep the material grouped as Owens himself had had it arranged. This material contains correspondence with friends and fans on the writing and publication of his books, with organizations Owens participated in, on awards won by Owens, about folk songs, on the writing of other authors, and other various topics. To be especially noted about the dramatizations of This Stubborn Soil.

The second division of personal correspondence primarily covers 1940-1965. These letters are broken down by their subject matter and then arranged chronologically. The subjects covered are Owens war letters and letters with Annie Laurie Williams, who was Owens' literary agent.

The third division of the correspondence files covers Owens' tour with the National Humanities Series in 1972 and 1973. The production was entitled "Frontiers: Settling a Nation," and consisted of Owens and a folksinger. The papers include correspondence concerning the itineraries, reviews, and other matters of the tour. The first nine boxes hold this personal correspondence.

Also included in the correspondence files are the printed reviews of books authored by Owens. They are predominantly newspaper reviews although some were printed in journals and magazines. The reviews are broken down by title and arranged chronologically.

Filling the next seven boxes are the transcripts of the "Oral History of Texas Oil Pioneers" tapes. These are filed by the number of the tape. There are transcripts from 218 tapes.

The manuscripts of books written by Owens since 1975 compose the next category of the collection. The five titles of the books are Caves of Arayat, Running in Place, Japanese Soldiers in World War II, Not So Far Away, Not So Long Ago, Special Agent 2142, and the second edition of Texas Folk Songs. Of these books, only Texas Folk Songs, 2nd edition, has been published (1976). The first three works concern World War II, and the fourth is the third volume of Owens' autobiography. There are many drafts of each book, some having different titles. The drafts are filed from earliest to latest. Some of the drafts were not identified and have been filed as accurately as possible. The labels of the drafts include the number of the draft, whether it is typescript or a copy, and whether or not it contains written notes. The labels "manuscript" and "typescript" were used interchangeably.

One may find it interesting to examine the various drafts and trace the development of the books. Not So Far Away, Not So Long Ago, for example, has thirteen drafts and four different titles. The drafts are in good condition and are usually complete.

There are also numerous shorter works written by Owens. These are predominantly articles, essays, and short stories. Most of them appear in printed form, but some were never published. Of interest in an essay written for a Bicentennial essay contest which Owens subsequently used for a lecture.

This collection also contains three boxes of short works by other writers. These include histories of World War II operations in which Owens participated, articles on folklore and ethnic groups, and other topics which interested Owens. There are many works that were sent to Owens by students and friends for him to critique. Of special interest are two biographies of Owens and short stories by J. Frank Dobie.

The final category of the boxed papers contain miscellaneous material collected by Owens which includes magazines, pamphlets, and other material.

Separated from the collection is sixty books which Owens included in the collection. Most pertain to fields which Owens researched such as folksongs, ethnic groups in Texas, history of the oil industry, and others.

Also separated, are oversized materials such as Owens' Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts diplomas from Southern Methodist University, two large prints of an oil gusher, four parts of a copy of an old map of Virginia, and a copy of an 1898 map of Jefferson County, Texas.

Owens, William A., 1905-1990

William A. Owens Papers, Part Three

  • TxAM-CRS 26
  • Collection
  • 1964-1988

This collection contains the third part of William A. Owens' materials deposited in the Cushing Archives. Materials consist of personal correspondence, from 1964 through 1988, essays, manuscripts, photographs, research for books, and articles.

Included within the series are short stories and articles such as "This Stubborn Soil", "Wildcatter", "Look to the River", "Tell Me a Story", "Sing Me a Song", "Historic Texas", "Eye Deep in Hell", and work by other authors; Cleaver and Witherspoon family genealogy; letters of Roy Bedichek; "Three Friends"; videotapes of Owens's work; and photographs.

Owens, William A., 1905-1990