Special Collections in West Texas
- Jason W. Dean
I was honored to be invited by the Grace Museum of Abilene and the Old Jail Art Center of Albany to speak about the work of Carl Hertzog. Over two lectures I sought to introduce attendees to the work of Carl Hertzog and how that work set the visual style for Texas in books.
Special Collections at Southwestern University has one of the three largest collections of the work of Carl Hertzog in the world. This is thanks to three collectors:
- Ambassador Edward A. Clark - Ambassador Clark gave his collection of Texana to Southwestern in 1964, and supported acquisitions to add to that collection until his death. He actively collected major works by Carl Hertzog, adding them to his eponymous collection at Southwestern.
- F. Warren Roberts - Dr. F. Warren Roberts, a 1938 graduate of Southwestern, was the second director of the Harry Ransom Center. His family gave Roberts’ collection to Special Collections in honor of Dr. Roberts.
- Llerena B. Friend - Dr. Llerena Friend was the first director of the Barker Texas History Center. Her family placed Dr. Friend’s library at Southwestern in 2017. She was an assiduous collector of Hertzog’s work.
My talk in Abilene on April 5th focused on the work Hertzog produced in collaboration with the noted Texas authors J. Frank Dobie, J. Evetts Haley, John Graves, and Tom Lea. It was through his work with these authors that Hertzog defined the style of a “Texas” book. I focused on what is the magnum opus of the collaboration between Carl Hertzog and Tom Lea: The King Ranch.
My talk in Albany focused on Hertzog’s 1958 reprinting of the foundational Texas book Interwoven. The author, Sallie Reynolds Matthews, was a resident of Albany, and her descendants still reside mostly in that town.
Through the process of reprinting the work, Carl became close friends with Sallie’s son, Watt Matthews, a keen preservationist and rancher of his family’s ranch, Lambshead.
Drawing on Hertzog’s papers at the University of Texas at El Paso, I also discussed work Hertzog created for the community of Albany and its residents: Reminiscences, A People’s Theater, letterhead for the Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church, and a broadside titled Wattisms.
It was meaningful to me to give that talk in the same space where Sallie’s desk where she wrote the book resides. I was honored by the attendance of her descendants and relatives at the talk, and to be able to meet them after my presentation.
My presentations in both Abilene and Albany were supported by a grant from Humanities Texas, to whom I am grateful for enabling me to introduce fellow Texans to Special Collections as well as the work of Carl Hertzog.