Guide to the
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM COLLECTION
ca. 1849-1990, bulk 1920s-1970s
583 Boxes (818 linear ft.); approx. 2,745,000 Film Negatives
Collection Number: AR406
Prepared by Shirley R. Rodnitzky
CITATION: Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, AR406, Series number, Box number, Folder number, Special Collections Division, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection
"Where the West Begins"
Table of Contents
The Fort Worth Star was founded in 1906 by a group of newsmen, including Col. Louis J. Wortham (as publisher), Amon G. Carter, Sr. (as advertising manager), D. C. McCaleb, and A. G. Dawson; they also had the help of wholesale grocer and major investor Col. Paul Waples. By 1908, the Star was in financial difficulty, and Carter and Wortham decided to buy out their rival, the Telegram, an evening newspaper that traced its history back to the Fort Worth Evening Mail and the Fort Worth Mail Telegram and other papers beginning around 1879. The new paper, known as the Star-Telegram, began publication in 1909, and was later identified in the 1920s by a phrase on its masthead, "Where the West Begins." Carter and the paper stressed local news and served eighty-four counties with some papers delivered in the Panhandle by stagecoach. The Star-Telegram had a pre-electronic distribution area of 350,000 square miles, and daily home delivery as far as 700 miles west of Fort Worth. Carter and the paper successfully resisted takeover attempts by William Randolph Hearst, who sold the Fort Worth Record to the Star-Telegram in 1925.
In 1922, the paper began the first Fort Worth radio station, WBAP, "We Bring a Program." The Star-Telegram established the first television station in the southern half of the United States in the early fall of 1948 and did a remote broadcast of President Harry Trumans whistle-stop campaign visit to Fort Worth. In 1954, WBAP-TV also did the first color cast in Texas, at a time when there were no more than 100 color television sets in Fort Worth and Dallas. Carter was majority owner and publisher of the paper until his death in 1955, when he was succeeded by his son, Amon G. Carter, Jr., who died in 1982. The paper, an active participant in the Fort Worth community, supported numerous local causes as well as efforts to create Big Bend National Park in West Texas and to establish Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University. The paper was sold in 1974 to Capital Cities Communications, Inc. The circulation at that time was 235,000 daily papers.
Under Capital Cities, which later became Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., when it purchased the ABC television network in 1986, the Star-Telegram won two Pulitzer Prizes. The first was in 1981 for photographer Larry Prices photos of Liberian officials being slain by a firing squad. The second, 1985, was the coveted gold medal Pulitzer for meritorious public service. It was awarded for a news series that exposed a flaw in Bell helicopters that was a factor in numerous crashes over a seventeen-year period. In the 1980s the Star-Telegram pioneered the establishment of an electronic information service and built one of the most modern newspaper printing and distribution plants in the nation. StarText, an "electronic newspaper" begun in 1982, complemented the printed newspaper with updated news and information; it was available on computer via a local telephone call in the Fort Worth and Dallas area. In 1986, the newspaper opened a new state-of-the-art printing facility that enabled it to produce one of the most colorful and visually attractive newspapers anywhere. In the early 1990s, under publisher Richard L. Connor, circulation climbed above 290,000 daily and more than 350,000 on Sundays. Star-Telegram Operating, Ltd. was sold to Knight Ridder in 1997. Wes Turner is the Star-Telegram publisher; Jim Witt the Arlington Star-Telegram publisher; and Richard Greene is vice president, associate publisher.
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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection is arranged in eight series:
Series 1. Photographs, Subjects, ca. 1904-1979. 76 boxes (47.5 linear ft.)
Arranged alphabetically by subject. Black and white photographs, 8" x 10" and under, of events, people, places, and subjects primarily in and around Fort Worth and the Metroplex, but also includes state, national, and international events and places. Copy negatives are available for photographs that have been reproduced by Special Collections Division. See also the Finding Aid for series 5 for oversize subject photographs . Finding Aid for series 1 is now online.
Series 2. Photographs, People, ca. 1861-1987, bulk 1920-1979. 125 boxes (81 linear ft.)
Arranged alphabetically by name. Black and white portraits and candid photographs, 8" x 10" and under, of individuals, couples, and groups (but primarily individuals) in the news. Included are local residents as well as state, national, and international figures. See also the Finding Aid for series 4 for early Texas people, and also the Finding Aid for series 5 for people in oversize photographs. Finding Aid for series 2 is now online.
Series 3. Photographs, Sports, ca. 1888-1979. 45 boxes (28 linear ft.)
Arranged alphabetically by sport. Black and white photographs, 8"x10" and under, of coaches, players, events, and stadiums. The sports series consists primarily of the players and coaches in local high school, college, semi professional, and professional sports with the emphasis on college and semi professional teams in Fort Worth. Within each sport are the coaches, players, stadiums (if applicable), and events. See also the Finding Aid for series 4 for early Texas sports, and also the Finding Aid for series 5 for oversize sports photographs. The Finding Aid for Series 3 is now online.
Series 4. Photographs, Early Texas, ca. 1849-1922, bulk 1870-1919. 12 boxes (3 linear ft.)
Arranged by size, then alphabetically by subject. The title or description of each photograph is listed under a subject. Black and white photographs and reproductions of early photographs and albumen prints mounted on boards, 9" x 12" and under, of people, places, subjects, and sports. This series contains a variety of photographs taken primarily in Fort Worth. It also includes photographs of people and events in Tarrant and neighboring counties as well as West Texas. Many of the photographs were not identified or dated, therefore subject headings were assigned and an estimate of some of the dates was necessary. See also the Finding Aid for series 5 for oversize early Texas photographs. The Finding Aid for the series 4 is now available online.
Series 5. Oversize Photographs, Aerial Views and Subjects, People, Sports, and Early Texas, 1879-1986, bulk 1920s-1970s. 23 boxes (9.5 linear ft.)
Arranged by size, then alphabetically within each subseries by subject or name. Black
and white photographs, 20" x 24" and under, of events, people, places, and
sports in and around Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and Texas. Included are a few photographs
of state, national, and international interest. The Finding
Aid for series 5 is now available online.
Series 6. Negatives, 1915-1990. Approximately 2,745,000 film negatives and 1,118 glass negatives.
Arranged by Fort Worth Star-Telegram negative number, approximately chronological. Film negative size varies from 35mm to 8" x 10" and includes black and white and color film. Glass negatives, 1915-1935, vary in size from 4" x 5" to 12" x 20." Film negatives are accessed through an alphabetical index card filing system. The glass negative images are restricted for use until copy negatives and prints have been made. The glass negatives are described in the Finding Aid for series 6 in Special Collections.
Series 7. Printed Materials, ca. 1889-1986, bulk 1920s-1970s. 211 boxes (610.25 linear ft.)
Arranged by document type, then alphabetically by subject or name. There are four subseries: clippings, a vertical file which includes architectural plans, a scrapbook, and a centennial issue. See the Finding Aid for series 7 , which is now online, for vertical file materials, the scrapbook, and the centennial issue. There is a separate alphabetical index for the clippings subseries.
Series 8. Index Cards: Texas and New Mexico Oil Fields and World War II Texas Servicemens Records, 1941-1970s. 25 boxes and 10 card file drawers (38 linear ft.)
Arranged alphabetically by name within each subseries. A collection of 18,800 index cards briefly describes Texas servicemen who fought in World War II. They are contained in ten card file drawers. A 170,000 card index of oil wells and their ownership are arranged by county. Also included are three boxes of New Mexico fields. This series is self-indexing.
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Scope and Contents Note
Thousands of news photographs, negatives, clippings, and printed materials created by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that chronicle the history of Fort Worth and West Texas are housed in the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries Special Collections Division. The collection consists of approximately 179,500 photographs, ca. 1849-1986, contained in 281 boxes (169 linear ft.) There is often a clipping of the photograph as it appeared in the newspaper, along with its caption, attached on the back. Nearly three million film negatives, 1915-1990, accompanied by a cross-referenced index card system, are housed in negative file cabinets. Most of the film negative envelopes also include a clipping of the photograph as it appeared in the newspaper. Negatives, which were made but not used in the newspaper story for which they were created, are also part of the collection. There are 1,118 glass negatives in 66 boxes. The glass negatives are not open for research at this time. Printed materials, ca. 1889-1986, consist of a vertical file in which World War II subjects are emphasized, but also includes pamphlets, booklets, sections of issues, and clippings related to Fort Worth and Star-Telegram history. Architectural drawings of many Fort Worth and Metroplex buildings are a part of the vertical file along with a scrapbook of advertising materials, 1911-1941, and the Star-Telegrams Fort Worth centennial issue, 1949. Index cards describing World War II Texas servicemen and a card index to oil wells in Texas and New Mexico, 1944-1970s, round out the varied collection.
Processing of the collection involved sorting 115 oversize boxes of photographs that were received from the Star-Telegram library in mid-1984. The photographs were sorted into series, as it was determined that the Star-Telegram staff had originally organized them, namely subjects, people, sports, early prints, and oversize prints. The negatives arrived in the original cabinets and with the index card system as they were used at the Star-Telegram. This order has been retained. The glass negatives were cleaned and placed in acid/lignin free four flap envelope enclosures before storage. Several staff members and assistants have worked on the collection through the years. The collection has three basic document types: photographs, negatives, and printed material organized into eight series divided into subseries with the exception of the photographs. Each photograph category has its own series. They were arranged in order of projected use. Subjects and people are more frequently requested than sports or early materials.
The photographic prints, the bulk of which date from the 1920s and into the 1970s, were used by the paper to illustrate local, national, and international news stories. Approximately 50% of the photographs are news service wire photos or publicity photographs; these are identified either by a news service stamp on the verso, by a credit line underneath the photo as it appeared in the newspaper, or by a news service caption attached to the print. The other half were taken by Star-Telegram photographers. Since the newspaper made every effort to chronicle the growth and development of West Texas, its photographs of the many towns and cities in the region are an important part of the collection. The photos include views of streets, municipal buildings, commercial buildings, parks, schools, colleges, hospitals, military installations, and special events, such as parades, ceremonies, and natural disasters. There are approximately 1,400 town and city views, which include about 500 aerial views. Many of the aerial views were taken for a 1938 series called "Texas from the Sky." The Star-Telegram covered Fort Worth in great detail; there are approximately fifty aerial views of the city as well as several thousand photographs of important buildings, railroads, highway projects, dams, parks, airports, military bases, universities, and amusement parks. Local events, such as the 1936 Fort Worth Centennial celebration, the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, the circus, social events, local natural disasters and goods manufactured in the area, particularly airplanes, helicopters, and missiles are also included. Series 1, Subjects, and Series 5, Oversize Photographs, list specific subjects in the photograph collection.
Photographs of Texas People, form the better part of the Star-Telegram collection, are an invaluable source for the history and biography of the region. There are photographs of many people who made news from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Area businessmen, oil men, cattlemen, cowboys, rodeo stars, the Texas National Guard, sports figures, coaches, teams, soap box derby participants, bands, choral groups, actors, congressmen, families, judges, physicians, soldiers, beauty queens, clergymen, authors, aviators, criminals, socialites, firefighters, teachers, and award-and-prize winners, and many others. Series 2, People, are primarily portraits or formal poses of individuals, families, or professional groups. Candid shots of people, large groups or groups not identified by name, and individuals or families in a specific setting, such as a cattleman depicted on his ranch or a large choral group, may also be found in Series 1, Subjects. Older, more fragile photographs of people are also found in Series 4, Early Texas, and in Series 5, Oversize Photographs. Of particular note are photographs of Amon G. Carter, Sr. and family, some of which show Carter with Will Rogers and Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower; photographs of Lyndon Johnson and his family; and John Nance Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelts vice-president. Finding Aid for Series 2, People is now online.
The Star-Telegram subscribed to the major news services and carried their photographs. Included in the collection are wire photos of people, places, and events in the U.S. and abroad. For example, there are files on the British royal family, American presidents from Truman to Nixon, and Adolf Hitler, as well as files on many nations of the world, primarily scenes of familiar landmarks and "human interest" photos. World War II photos depict events of the European and Pacific theaters as well as the Red Cross, field hospitals, prisoners, and supporters on the home front. The newspaper also carried stories on major criminal cases, such as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping; natural disasters, such as the 1938 hurricane; and adventures, such as the Byrd Antarctic Expedition or endurance and long-distance flights from the period of early aviation. A number of photographs were published that were issued by the armed services and by companies wishing to promote their goods and services. These include automobiles, aircraft, computers, farm equipment, and other products.
Over the years it is estimated that the Star-Telegram published approximately 50% of stories originating from Fort Worth and Texas and 50% from outside sources on a great variety of subjects. The subjects include art, atomic power, baseball, camps and dude ranches, circuses, country clubs, dams, the Democratic Party, department stores, farming, fires and fire fighting, football and football stadiums, kidnappings, Abraham Lincoln, Miss America and other beauty pageants, New York City, policemen, prisons and jails, railroads and train wrecks, the Republican Party, rodeos, schools, the space program and astronauts, television, veterans, George Washington, and women, to name but a few. The Star-Telegram routinely received publicity photographs of national and international sports figures and entertainers, which remain in the collection.
Series 3, Sports, ca. 1888-1979, centers on baseball, especially semi-professional teams, such as the Fort Worth Cats; football, in particular college teams; and golf, primarily the Colonial Country Club scene and the tournaments held there each year. Players, coaches, and teams dominate the series. Other major sports figures depicted include those who participated in basketball, tennis, car racing, horse racing, track, and swimming. Representatives of recreational sports are also included in this series, but only in small numbers. There are a few team photographs, stadiums, and action scenes, but this is a minor part of the collection. Major league figures and action photographs are found primarily in the negatives. Finding Aid for Series 3 now available online.
Series 4, Early Texas, is composed of photographs, ca. 1849-1922, but are primarily Texas scenes, 1870-1919. There are more than 380 photographs in this series, many of which are reproductions of early shots by photographers from local studios or individuals not associated with the Star-Telegram. The earliest photograph is a reproduction of a sketch of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1849. There are no photos between 1849-1870. The photographs are arranged first by size, then by subject. All titles in this series are listed or fully described in the index. The primary subject is Fort Worth banks, businesses, residences and events. However, there are several street scenes of cities and towns in North and West Texas and several railroad and West Texas ranch views. Finding Aid for Series 4 available online.
Series 5, Oversize Photographs, are comprised of prints that are over 8" x 10." They are related to the photographs in series 1-4, but were separated because their size prohibited storage in the same location. The prints are arranged by size; within each size alphabetically by subject. Sizes vary from 11" x 15" up to 20" x 24." A title or description of each photograph or group of photographs is included in the index. Nearly one-third of this series is aerial views of Texas cities, towns, lakes, and dams. Finding Aid for Series 5 is available online.
Series 6, the Film Negative series, is accessed by a cross-referenced index card file. The emphasis is on Fort Worth and Texas, 1915-1990. Numerous subjects, people, events, and sports are covered in the negatives as well as historic scenes of Fort Worth and other Texas cities. The negatives are primarily 4" x 5" to the early 1960s, when 35mm film became popular and was used almost exclusively thereafter. Color negatives are found more frequently in the later years. There are three boxes of 5" x 7" sports negatives, specifically baseball, 1949-1963; and football, 1948-1962. A few 8" x 10" negatives are also included in the collection, namely undated negatives of Will Rogers; the Bob Hope Show, 1949; the Star-Telegram city room, 1949; and All Saints Hospital, 1959. Glass negatives are also part of this series, 1915-1935, bulk 1927-1935. The subjects include aviation topics, crimes, the Star-Telegrams facilities, Amon G. Carter, Sr. and family, and scenes and buildings primarily in Fort Worth, but there are some scenes in Arlington and a few Metroplex towns. The glass negatives are not indexed in the index card file; there is a separate index describing them.
Series 7, Printed Material, contains approximately 513,000 clippings, 1920-1960, with clippings on Vietnam into the early 1970s. These clippings are of major news articles (as opposed to articles about sports figures, entertainers, or events of minor importance) and are arranged alphabetically either by subject or by the name of the featured person or organization. They are an important adjunct to the photographic print files. Additional printed material in this series includes a vertical file which contains a variety of clippings, headlines, and published items concerning various aspects of Fort Worth history, Star-Telegram history, and a great deal of information about World War II, both the European and Pacific theaters, but particularly military units and specific battles and battleships. A small amount of printed material is included about World War I, such as a series about the war published in 1964, by the North American Newspaper Alliance, information on the Texas Panther Division, U.S. Army locations and composition at the end of the war, and descriptions of a winter offensive. Other material in Series 7 includes oversize architectural drawings of hospitals, residences, schools, and other buildings located primarily in Fort Worth; a scrapbook which contains Star-Telegram advertising and printed materials, 1911-1941, which demonstrates the progress of the newspaper; and a copy of the centennial issue, October 30, 1949, celebrating Fort Worths first 100 years and the Star-Telegrams move into a new building. This issue is also on microfilm, which is located in the Central Librarys Current Periodicals/Microforms division. Finding Aid for Series 7 available online.
Series 8 of the collection is organized in two subseries: Servicemens Records and an Oil Well Index. The servicemens records contain approximately 18,800 index cards, which describe World War II servicemen principally from Texas. Information given includes the servicemans rank, company, military branch, parents, parents address, spouse and family and their address, wounds, medals, and commendations. A number of cards refer to the "Lost Battalion," a famous group of Texas soldiers who were imprisoned by the Japanese in Java. The vertical file in Series 7 also includes information on Texas servicemen and prisoners of war. The oil well index is a collection of approximately 170,000 cards consisting of an index of oil wells in Texas fields, 1944 to the early 1970s. The cards are arranged by county and give information on the ownership, financing, and production of each well. Information on the driller, production figures or non-production, depth of the well, drill stem test information, potential production based on the test, and changes in ownership are also recorded. These files are important because the information is of practical value. For example, it is noted at what depth oil or gas was encountered, as well as water, and if it is a dry hole, important for persons wishing to drill in a similar area. The subterranean topography can be mapped through this information and in fact structural maps are based on it.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives was described in 1985, as "the finest such collection on Texas history available" by noted archival appraiser/manuscript dealer, Kenneth R. Rendell of Boston. "Its research value extends far beyond Fort Worth and West Texas, but in these two geographic areas, it is the only historical record in existence." He also noted that the Star-Telegram archives are more valuable because newspaper libraries are not readily accessible to the public. In addition, "The wire service photographs, while undoubtedly paralleled in other newspaper morgues, are rarely open to the public, and few have been given to public institutions." See also the appendix for a copy of an essay by Rendell, "History and Importance of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram.
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Dr. Charles C. Colley, Director of Special Collections, and Fort Worth lawyer, Jenkins Garrett, were actively involved in bringing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection to UTA. The university administration under President Wendell Nedderman and the university libraries director, John A. Hudson, gave their full support. Meetings that culminated in the donation agreement began in 1983, after Colley learned the newspaper was seeking a permanent custodian for their archives. Capitol Cities corporate headquarters and the administrative and editorial/library management staff of the Star-Telegram approved the donation of the Fort Worth Star-Telegrams archives to Special Collections in 1983. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives donated the collection in increments from late June to October 1984. Subsequent donations of negatives were received in 1989, 1996, and 1999, while Dr. Gerald D. Saxon was Associate Director for Special Collections and Branch Libraries and Sally Gross was Head of Special Collections Division.
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Please handle the photographs with care. Many of the prints, especially in the Early Texas Series, are mounted on fragile board and/or are fragile due to handling through the years. To preserve the collection for future generations, please wear white cotton gloves provided to you by Special Collections when examining a print or negative, keep the collection in the order in which you find it, and do not remove any photographs from the file in which it is housed without consulting a staff member.
There are restrictions on the reproduction of wire service photographs. See the literary rights statement below for specifics.
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Permission to copy, reprint, publish, digitize, videotape or reproduce and/or use photographs or other materials from the collection must be obtained in writing from the Special Collections Division of the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Permission to copy, reprint, publish, digitize, videotape or otherwise reproduce and/or use wire service photographs or photographs by other photographers included in the collection must be obtained from the copyright holder. For permission to reprint or use Associated Press (AP) or United Press International (UPI) photographs contact them at the following addresses:
AP/Wide World Photos
50 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
Associated Press Texas Bureau: (972) 991-2100
United Press International
1510 H. Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
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Note to the Researcher
A finding aid to each series, except film negatives, was compiled separately; some of which are now available online. Please request the series you are interested in by collection number and series number from the Reference Desk in Special Collections, or check the online listing of Finding Aids available.
Photographic reproduction, digitizing, and photocopy services are available to the researcher. Please ask for a fee schedule for specific prices and services at the Reference Desk or consult our online page for Photographic Services Information and Fee Schedules.
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Bound newspaper volumes of the Fort Worth Daily Record, 1901, 1905-1912, were cataloged and added to the Special Collections periodicals collection.
One hundred and one sectional maps of Texas counties and oil fields, ca. 1929-1981, were cataloged and added to the Virginia Garrett Cartographic History Library. The maps contain manuscript revisions and annotations and were used by retired business writer, Royce Yancey, and others to pinpoint new wells drilled in Texas. Each of the maps gives all of the owners and the relationships of their properties for the particular section of Texas. See the map card catalog for subjects and titles.
Paper copies of "extra" or "special editions," 1928-1968, were transferred to the exhibits curator, added to the Special Collections periodical collection, or deaccessioned if a duplicate copy of our holdings. Issues that concerned the assassination of President John F. Kennedy were added to the John F. Kennedy Assassination Collection (AR188), a collection of local and national newspapers and publications that centered on the assassination in 1963, and historical perspectives of the assassination in subsequent years.
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History and Importance of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
By Kenneth R. Rendell
Fort Worth at the turn of the century, though still a cowboy town, had nearly all of the amenities of any other American town; a municipal water system, electric street lighting, a modern fire department, paved streets, sanitary sewers, streetcars and trolley cars, a permanent police force, a new jail, home mail delivery, a full-time county court, a home for neglected children, a weather bureau station, free public schools, a university and several colleges, cultural and womens clubs, established churches, and a library. The 1880s and 1890s had been a period of enormous growth for Fort Worth; but following the interruption occasioned by the Spanish-American War, her civic and commercial development was even greater.
The year 1905, was a banner year for the "Queen City of the Prairie." On April 8, twenty thousand of her citizens went to the Texas & Pacific station to greet Theodore Roosevelt, who had come to go wolf hunting with two Fort Worth cattle barons. In 1905 also, Amon G. Carter, Col. Louis J. Wortham, A. G. Dawson, and D. C. McCaleb started the Fort Worth Star, with the first issue rolling off the presses on February 1, 1906. Carter, who had sold streetcar advertising cards and published an indexed telephone directory, "hit the streets as advertising manager, selling 1,450 column inches of advertising for that premier issue of the Star--so much, in fact, that the printers in the composing room did not have time to set all the type and were forced to publish an apology to the forty firms that were left out of the sixteen pages "
The Star was not without its rivals and almost went under because of them. But the unflagging efforts of Amon Carter--and a second loan from the papers original backer--enabled the Star to buy out the Telegram--the citys other afternoon paper--in 1909. Fifteen years later, when William Randolph Hearst gave up on his attempt to establish the Records supremacy in Fort Worth, that paper was acquired by Carter as well.
From the very beginning, when Amon Carter placed the slogan "Fort Worth Where the West Begins" on the masthead of his paper, the Star-Telegram was a newspaper written for and about the people of West Texas. In 1906, the outlying counties were a vast hinterland, and copies of the newspaper got there by stagecoach. "Later when American Airlines established its Fort Worth to Los Angeles route, the pilot of the old Ford tri-motor would fly down low over a spread near Guadalupe Park and pitch out a bundle of Star-Telegrams to ranches whose homes were at least sixty miles from the nearest town. For almost half a century, the Star-Telegram was the one newspaper that catered exclusively to the scattered towns and ranches along the caprock, across the staked plains, and on a stretch of barren countryside that Star-Telegram editors refused to call either desert or wasteland.
"In time the Star-Telegram--under the imaginative direction of its circulation manager, Harold Hough--would distribute thirteen editions daily by train and bus and truck across 375,000 square miles--a territory as large as all of New England. It became the daily reading fare in 1,100 towns in eighty-four counties, packed with genuine, authentic West Texas news furnished by a network of 600 correspondents. They filled the newspapers columns with articles and information about those things, which meant the most to its readers . On December 15, 1912, the company published a special edition of 250 pages, the then largest single newspaper in history . A year later the Star-Telegram became the fourth largest newspaper in Texas. Within three years, its circulation topped 66,000 and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram stood alone as the largest newspaper in the state, a position it would hold until the early 1950s."
Meanwhile, events in Fort Worth itself kept the pages of the Star-Telegram full of tales of unprecedented growth and expansion. In 1901, the city had managed to raise enough capital to convince both Swift & Co. and Armour to build packinghouses there. From that point on, Fort Worth was the principal market for every head of cattle in West Texas; and as a result, its population grew from 26,688 in 1900 to 73,312 in 1910. With the meat packers came the railroads: the International & Great Northern and the St. Louis & San Francisco. Other major industries established in the Fort Worth area during the first decades of the century were the Bolt Works, the Texas Steel Company, the Burrus Mills, and the Medlin Milling Company. The Star-Telegram kept apace with this development and through the efforts of Amon Carter was largely responsible for it.
By the time of the first World War, the citys police force and fire department were motorized, all wooden buildings on Main Street had been demolished, Lake Worth had been dammed as part of a major water supply project, and the park board had hired George Kessler to develop a master plan for a system which now numbers over 100,000 acres. Texas Christian University, which was founded in Fort Worth but subsequently moved to Waco, was lured back to the city after its buildings were destroyed by fire in 1910. Charitable and fraternal organizations such as the Masons, the Eastern Star, the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, and the Shriners, took root in Fort Worth during this period; and the Chamber of Commerce--a powerful force in the business industry--was established in 1912.
One year earlier, with the arrival of the first flying machines to visit Fort Worth--a spectacular event orchestrated by Amon Carter and the Star-Telegram--the city began a romance with aviation that persists to the present day. During World War I, again at Carters behest, fields at Hicks, Everman and Benbrook were established. In 1925, Fort Worth built an airport and soon afterwards National Air Transport began regular airmail and passenger service. Until the Depression, air traffic grew steadily, with 4,511 flights to and from Meacham Field recorded in 1929 alone. Among these early arrivals and departures were some of the nations most daring young stunt pilots and long-distance aviators.
In 1917, oil was discovered at Ranger and life in Fort Worth was changed forever. Coming as it did during a critical oil shortage, the discovery was of vital interest to a nation at war. Fort Worth became the headquarters for the hundreds of operators drilling at Ranger, Burkburnett, Desdemona, and other West Texas sites. Following on the coat tails of legitimate businessmen were fraudulent operators whose activities were uncovered in a series of sensational trials in 1922. Profits from the wells built luxurious ranches for oil-rich farmers and cattlemen, while skyscrapers housing company headquarters began to alter the skyline. The citys population ballooned from 106,482 in 1920 to 163,477 in 1930; the suburbs grew. During this decade Fort Worth gained several refineries, a number of powerful banks, and several elegant new hotels. In 1921, the Star-Telegrams circulation manager, Harold Hough, obtained federal approval to operate the first radio station in Fort Worth, WBAP ("We Bring a Program").
The impact of the Depression was not immediately felt in Fort Worth because of this tremendous growth. When economic conditions did begin to deteriorate, "Amon Carter and the Star-Telegram worked constantly to prevent the agony of the era from suffocating the hopes of their city. The newspaper, trying to maintain an optimistic front, even went so far as to suggest that the Depression was merely a monetary illusion. When the Texas State Bank closed its doors, a thousand angry depositors stampeded the First National Bank--fearful that their money was all gone. Carter wrote a front page editorial claiming that the ridiculous spectacle [was] brought on by idle gossip, unfounded rumors and a state of hysterior [sic]"
Utilizing New Deal funds, the city hastened its own recovery with the building of a new City Hall, the Will Rogers memorial Auditorium and Coliseum, a library, and other civic improvements. In 1936, Fort Worth celebrated the Texas centennial, with the Star-Telegram raising $65,000 for festivities produced by Broadways Billy Rose. Sally Rand was there, with her bubbles, and so was the singer Everett Marshall and Paul Whitemans band, all performing on the revolving stage of the Casa Manana show. At about the same time, TCU had a top-flight football team and Fort Worth produced the legendary golfer, Ben Hogan. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose son Elliot had radio interests in the city, made five visits between 1936 and 1943; and W. Lee ODaniel became Fort Worths first governor of Texas.
The aviation industry in Fort Worth grew significantly with the onset of World War II. The government began manufacturing B-24 bombers at a huge factory operated by Consolidated-Vultec Aircraft (Convair), and opened Tarrant Field, where four thousand pilots were trained during the war. Amon Carter, as usual, had been instrumental in bringing Convair to Fort Worth. After the Armistice, Fort Worth managed to hold on to the industry as Convair began producing the formidable B-36 and Tarrant Field (renamed Carswell Air Force Base) became the home of the Eighth Air Force. In 1948, after a bitter rivalry with Dallas, the city won the right to build the Greater Fort Worth International Airport, now a hub for American Airlines. A year later, B-50 bombers left Carswell Air Force Base and set a course for the east. Ninety-four hours later, the "Lucky Lady II," having been refueled several times in mid-air, landed in Fort Worth after having made the Air Forces first nonstop flight around the world.
Through Amon Carter and the Star-Telegram, Fort Worth became the home of dozens of factories, stores, branch plants, and warehouses that might otherwise have settled elsewhere. Though it is not true that he would take his lunch to Dallas rather than spend money there, Carter did maintain a healthy rivalry with that neighboring city. "Once when he was in the office of E. W. Sinclair in New York, he noticed a wall map on which pins showed the many operations of the Sinclair Oil Company, and asked if the pin at Dallas meant that Sinclair had bought the Pierce Oil Company. When Sinclair replied that, confidentially, it did, Carter simply moved the pin half an inch to the left, placing it in Fort Worth. Sinclair laughed and rearranged his business by establishing the southwest regional office in Fort Worth."
Carter was as influential in government circles as in corporate ones. Said John Nance Garner, Roosevelts vice president and a Fort Worth native, "That man wants the whole government of the United States to run for the exclusive benefit of Fort Worth." Carter became a national figure when he accompanied his friend Will Rogers on a flying trip around the country; and his narrow-brimmed, "Shady Oak" Stetson was a well known Texas trademark. Every important guest who visited Fort Worth during his time--from Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and General Eisenhower to Charles Lindbergh, Otto Kahn, and Admiral Nimitz--was required to leave his own hat behind and take home a Stetson. Amon Carter died in 1955, and Carter Communications continued to publish the Star-Telegram until the paper was sold to Capital Cities Communications in 1974.
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