University of Texas Arlington

Sam L. Provence Papers:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Provence, Sam L., 1949-1982.
Title: Sam L. Provence Papers
Dates: 1953-1988
Dates (Bulk): 1959-1982
Abstract: Sam L. Provence, confined to a wheelchair after having polio, was instrumental in making the public more aware of the issues of people with disabilities. He advocated for legislative changes, and was a leader on the UTA campus and for the City of Arlington to become more accessible for people with disabilities. He founded the Arlington Handicapped Association and established residences for six severely disabled men. The collection includes newspaper articles about Sam, photographs, awards, Provence’s resume, brochures describing services offered by the Arlington Handicapped Association, and his obituaries.
Identification: AR650
Extent: 5 folders (0.2 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Biographical Note

Sam L. Provence (1949-1982) contracted Bulbar polio at the age of 9. He spent ten months in the hospital and came home in an iron lung. His illness left him a quadriplegic, wheelchair-bound, and dependent on a respirator for rest of his life. Despite his physical challenges, Provence earned a B.S. in business and M.A. in history from the University of Texas at Arlington, and was just three weeks away from completing his teaching certificate at the time of his death. Provence was an activist and leader in promoting legislation for wheelchair accessibility and public transportation for the disabled. Provence established the Handicapped Students Association at UTA and was instrumental in leading the university to become a barrier-free model campus. In 1977, Provence founded and was the first president of the Arlington Handicapped Association. In addition, he served on a number of city, state, and national committees for the disabled, including the Dallas Committee for the Handicapped. Provence realized his dream in 1982, when he obtained funding to establish residences for six severely disabled men that would allow them to live independently.

Scope and Contents

The Sam L. Provence Papers are comprised of photographs of Sam Provence from the age of five until he was 33; newspaper articles, including obituaries; brochures from the Arlington Handicapped Association; awards/certificates; and his resume.


Papers consist of 5 folders arranged alphabetically by subject and therein chronologically.



Open for research.

Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Provence, Sam L., 1949-1982--Archives.
Arlington Handicapped Association (Arlington, Tex.)
University of Texas at Arlington--Students with disabilities.
People with disabilities--Political activists--Texas--Arlington.
Arlington (Tex.)--History.
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection
Texas Disability History Collection

Related Materials

Unprocessed mss. 2015-55: Jim Hayes Papers

Separated Material

Original newspaper clippings have been photocopied for preservation purposes and have been deaccessioned.

Administrative Information


Gift of Sam Provence's siblings: Joe Provence, Sara McCorkle, and Louise Laine, November 7, 2015.


Sam L. Provence Papers, AR650, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.


Gift, November 7, 2015.

Accessioned as number 2016-11.

Processing Information

The Sam L. Provence Papers were processed and finding aid prepared by Beverly Carver on December 15, 2015.

Container List

Sam L. Provence Papers

Box Folder
1 1 Arlington Handicapped Association, undated
Brochures outlining the services offered by the organization to the disabled.
2 Award and certificates, 1973-1982
Awards given to Sam L. Provence by Phi Alpha Theta, UTA, and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges; Certificates of Appreciation to Mildred Provence for her service to the Arlington Handicapped Association.
3 Newspaper clippings, 1959-2002
Biographical information about Sam L. Provence’s life from the age of 9, when he contracted polio. Includes coverage of his return to Fort Worth in an iron lung after being hospitalized in Houston for ten months, articles about his advocacy for accessibility for the disabled on the UTA campus and in the City of Arlington, the founding of the Arlington Handicapped Association, Provence’s role in establishing housing for the severely disabled, and obituaries.
4 Photographs, 1953-1980
School pictures of Provence ages 4-9; photos taken of Provence's arrival in Fort Worth in the iron lung showing the airplane and staff who attended Provence along with the welcome party; family pictures of Thanksgiving 1959.
5 Resume, approximately 1981