Dorothy and Terrell Blodgett Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Dorothy Jean Chapin Blodgett was a journalist, freelance writer and public relations consultant in Austin, Texas. She was born to Hugh and Sadie Chapin on October 20, 1924. After graduating from Waco High School she attended Baylor University and graduated in 1945 with a BA in History. While attending Baylor she also began her professional journalism career at the Waco News Tribune. In 1946 she married Terrell Blodgett.
Although Dorothy took time off from full-time work to raise three children she established a career as a respected freelance writer and promotional professional beginning in the 1950s. She worked with J. J. "Jake" Pickle (then in public relations) and George Christian on Price Daniel's 1956 gubernatorial campaign. This began a long time association, both professional and personal, with Pickle. She went on to work for three Texas governors: John Connally, Mark White and Bill Clements. For Governor Connally she coordinated the first Texas Governor's Conference on Libraries in 1966. For Governor Clements she served as a consultant for the renovation/restoration of the Governor's Mansion in 1979. Her knowledge of the Mansion was again utilized when Governor White asked her to serve as a consultant on Governor's Mansion operational procedures and the training of the first Docent group in 1983. Her longtime interest in the Governor's Mansion led her, along with Governor and Mrs. Price Daniel, to write The Texas Governor's Mansion: A History of the House and Its Occupants.
In addition to her work for state office holders she wrote freelance articles for a variety of publications and speeches on a wide-range of topics as well as assisting in promotional activities for a variety of organizations such as the Women's Symphony League, the Texas Urban Development Commission and the Austin Yoga Center. She also taught in the journalism departments at Baylor University and the University of Texas in the 1960s. She was a member of many organizations over the years, including the Austin History Center Association, the Texas Oral History Association, the Texas State Historical Association, the University Ladies Club and Theta Sigma Phi, the fraternity for Women in Journalism (later named Women in Communication, Inc.).
Dorothy died on February 27, 2005 as a result of cancer of the bone marrow.
Terrell Blodgett was born in Texas on September 15, 1923. He attended Baylor University along with his wife Dorothy and graduated with a BA in Political Science. Terrell went on to receive a MA in Public Administration from Syracuse University. The couple returned to Texas and Terrell became involved in local government and has held positions as the City Manager of Garland (1963-64) and Waco (1960-63) and Assistant City Manager of Austin (1955-60).
Terrell went on to serve as the Administrative Assistant to Governor John B. Connally (December 1964-January 1969), serving initially as the first Director of the Texas Office of Economic Opportunity and then as principal assistant for intergovernmental relations and planning. From 1969 until his appointment at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in 1982, Terrell Blodgett was the principal in charge of government services for Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. in a nine-state Southwest region.
At the LBJ School Terrell conducted teaching and research work in local and state government, nonprofit organizations, and public-private partnerships. During his tenure at the LBJ School Blodgett was also frequently recruited by Texas state and local officials for temporary assignments as a consultant. For example, in 1984 he served as chief consultant to the Legislative Audit Committee of the State of Texas; in 1985 he conducted a management study of the State Preservation Board's activities and the functions of the Capitol Architect; and then in 1991 he served as Executive Director of the Governor's Task Force on Revenue. In recognition of his work for state officials, Terrell was honored with the LBJ Foundation annual Excellence Award for his overall "trouble shooting for the state."
In 1995, Blodgett retired from teaching after having served thirteen years as the LBJ School's first Mike Hogg Professor in Urban Management. Since retiring, Blodgett has helped found the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations (TANO) and serves on their Board of Directors.
He has written several books including The Land, the Law, and the Lord: The Life of Pat Neff (along with his wife Dorothy and David Scott), Texas Home Rule Charters and Cities that Work: The History of Council-Manager Government in Texas.
The Dorothy and Terrell Blodgett Papers measure approximately 6.5 linear feet and span the years 1947 through 2012. The collection primarily documents the couple's professional careers as well as their interest in state and local politics and politicians. Dorothy and Terrell kept separate files and the arrangement of the collection reflects this organization. The first two series, Dorothy Blodgett and Terrell Blodgett, represent the work and research files of each of the creators. The third series, added after an additional donation, consists of biographical materials about both Dorothy and Terrell compiled by Terrell.
The Dorothy Blodgett series (1947-2001) consists of materials that highlight her literary works and civic, political, and religious interests. The series is composed principally of literary productions, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and printed material, press releases and research files. The series is arranged into three main subseries: Literary Works, Associations and Research Files.
Literary Works consist of freelance articles (1955-73), promotional work (1955-70), and speeches (1949-71). Her freelance articles appeared in regional and national publications. The articles are arranged in alphabetical order and are accompanied by related drafts and correspondence. The promotional work was for Austin area organizations and events and consists of press releases, publicity schedules, commercial scripts, and advertisement copy. Speeches consist of both those she wrote for herself to deliver and those she wrote for others to deliver. Many of the latter were "club papers", written for women's clubs throughout Texas. Blodgett wrote the date, town, and speaker for whom she wrote the speech on the front of each speech. Related materials include rejection slips, correspondence and biographical information. These materials are accompanied by promotional photographs she used in her freelance articles and promotional work. Included are photos of Pat and Virginia Moreland and the 2-J Drive-In restaurant, Jim T. Lindsey and his family and the 1965 National Chicken Cook-Off.
Materials related to Theta Sigma Phi (1948-1968) form the bulk of the Associations subseries. The organization sponsored the Writers Roundup; known the first year as the Autograph Hound Party, it was an annual event honoring Texas writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's books at which the public could meet the authors and have books signed. The 1956 and 1959 Writers Roundup are the most voluminous, with the history of the event described in the 1959 file. There are photographs of the 1956 Roundup as well as promotional photographs of authors participating in the event. The 1964 controversial resignation of executive secretary Jo Meyer from the Austin office is documented in clippings and correspondence between Blodgett, Meyer, and other Theta Sigma Phi members. The letters are arranged chronologically, with related letters clipped together as Mrs. Blodgett originally grouped them. The administrative records file includes bylaws (1967); newsletters (1957, 1967, 1968); convention programs (1949, 1954, 1957, 1959-63); student chapter handbook, (1963-64); directories (1952-55, 1957, 1958-62, 1967). In later years, Theta Sigma Phi sponsored the BannerBrunch, which honored Austin women for their civic achievements. The 1976 and 1977 brunches are documented in ballots, newsletters, correspondence, and program. Other associations reflecting Dorothy's interests are the Austin Heritage Society (1974-79), the Women's Symphony League (1957, 1976-1979), Symphony Orchestra (1956-57), and the Texas Parapsychology Association (1975-79).
The Research Files subseries (1954-2001) consists of material about J.J. Pickle, preservation issues in Texas and Texas governors since Bill Clements. Dorothy was associated with J.J. Pickle for many years and maintained a series of scrapbooks chronicling his life in private business and politics dating from 1955 to 1991. Many of the folders contain notes from Dorothy explaining the context of the materials. Pickle's role as a public relations consultant with Syers, Pickle and Winn is documented by a manual and brochures created for the State Bar of Texas in the early to mid-1950s and campaign mailings created for Price Daniel's 1956 gubernatorial campaign. Pickle's political career is also recorded starting with his first race for a congressional seat in 1963. The majority of the materials pertaining to Pickle's political career are newspaper and magazine clippings. Also included are letters from Pickle thanking the Blodgetts for their support; Dorothy's notes for writing magazine articles about Pickle or speeches for him; background information on various topics that she gathered for him; and issues of Pickle's Washington Report. In addition there are two photographs of Pickle.
Also documented in the Research Files subseries is information related to historical preservation in Texas (1965-2001). Included are news clippings, brochures and booklets about the La Salle shipwreck, the Texas State Cemetery, the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board, Texas General Land Office, Big Thicket National Preserve and the Texas State History Museum. Dorothy also started compiling background information about former Texas governors Ann Richards, Bill Clements, Mark White and George W. Bush for a possible addition to an updated version of The Texas Governor's Mansion: A History of the House and Its Occupants. The Bush files (1994-2000) primarily consist of newspaper clippings that document the 1995 and 1999 inaugurations; Bush's decision to run for president; Crawford Ranch; and Laura Bush's projects. Mark White's file (1986-1991) includes newspaper and magazine clippings as well as campaign mailings. Clements's files (1985-1989) are an assortment of news clippings and event programs documenting the campaign; the inauguration; the Capitol Centennial Celebration; his staff; and the Southern Methodist University scandal. And lastly, the Ann Richards's files (1987-1995) include news clippings of the 1990 campaign and inauguration and her time in office. Also included are newsletters, standing rules, committee member lists and membership lists for the Docents of the Governor's Mansion dated during Richards's time in office.
The majority of the Terrell Blodgett series (1955-2012) consists of research files created by Terrell pertaining to City of Austin government and politics and Texas political history. There is also a smaller amount of biographical materials relating to Terrell's career and involvement in local and state government. The series is arranged into 5 subseries: Professional, Publications, Awards, Photographs and Research Files.
The Professional subseries (1960-1989) includes newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, press releases, photographs, and other printed material reflecting Blodgett's long career in public administration, consulting and teaching. The subseries is arranged according to organization or activity and documents his tenure as city manager in both Waco and Garland, Texas, his work in the Texas Office of the Governor, Blodgett's consulting career at Peat, Warwick, Mitchell & Co., his professorship in the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and other professional enterprises.
Publications (1950-2010) consist of reports, pamphlets, and articles written by Blodgett throughout his professional career. Themes include municipal budgeting and planning, the history of Texas local and state government systems, and tuberculosis prevention.
The Awards subseries consists of awards presented to Terrell Blodgett between 1982 and 2008.
The Photographs subseries contains two photographs of Terrell Blodgett, one from circa 1960-1963, and another from circa 1986-1987 that also features President Ronald Reagan.
The materials in the Research Files (1955-2012) subseries are split into two subjects: City of Austin politics (1983-2012) and Texas politics (1955-2010). The City of Austin files cover such topics as the 1998 Bond Election; the 1997 Austin Mayor's race; Austin Vision 2010; former city manager Camille Cates Barnett; Austin City Council from 1988-1994; Austin Civil Service for 2012; collective bargaining for firefighters in 2004; and Austin Charter Revision and Single Member District elections from 1985-2012. Well represented are materials regarding Camille Cates Barnett and her tenure as Austin City Manager. Blodgett was a supporter of Barnett and followed her career in Austin and continued to do so when she moved to North Carolina and then to the District of Columbia. Included in the Barnett files are newspaper clippings that document the 1992 National Public Service Award and the Brackenridge Hospital accounting error that led to her forced resignation; letters written by Terrell in support of Barnett; papers and articles written by Barnett; materials relating to a course on Urban Leadership that Barnett taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs; correspondence from Barnett; and the planning materials for her going away reception that was organized by friends including Blodgett.
Also well represented in the City of Austin subject files are materials related to the various Charter Revision elections held during the 1980s-2010s that proposed a change in the method of election of Council Members to include single member districts. Blodgett, along with Barbara Jordan, directed a LBJ School of Public Affairs student study looking at Local Government Election Systems in 1983-84. In 1988 Blodgett was a member of the Right to Vote Coalition organized to defeat Proposition #1 (which would have divided the City of Austin into 8 single member districts with the Mayor elected at-large) and he continued to contribute to the discussion during each subsequent consideration of the single-member district issue. The Austin Charter Revision and Single Member District election materials include newspaper clippings, Charter Revision Commission documents and reports, correspondence, City of Austin reports, election ephemera, Right To Vote Coalition flyers and distributed information, legal documentation, and meeting notes.
Much of the second half of the Research Files subseries consist of materials relating to Texas political history and focus on former Texas Governor John Connally. The files pertaining to John Connally are primarily newspaper and magazine clippings highlighting the political and personal lives of John Connally and his wife Nellie, arranged in date order from 1963 to the 1990s. Mixed amongst the clippings are a few political event programs and brochures. In addition to the clippings files arranged by date there are several subject folders that focus on the Connallys' 1980s financial crisis and subsequent bankruptcy auction, the 1960s HemisFair in San Antonio, Nellie Connally, and the Governor's Mansion.
Also included in the Texas political history materials are files documenting the rifts in the Texas Democratic Party in the late 1950s. Highlighted is the disagreement between Governor Allen Shivers and Senator Lyndon B. Johnson about the direction of the Texas Democratic Party. In addition there are materials related to Lyndon B. Johnson's staff, advisors, career and legacy. These files consist almost entirely of newspaper and magazine clippings arranged by date from 1955 to 1971. There are two folders of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, programs and handwritten notes dated from 1974 to 1991 that consider the legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson.
Newspaper clippings, correspondence, and reports dating from 1999 to 2010 document Blodgett's interest in the restoration and preservation of the Governor's Mansion after the arson fire in 2008.
The Biographies series consists of three .pdf files that document the personal and professional lives of Terrell and Dorothy Blodgett created by Terrell. The documents are organized by decade and include narrative text along with scans of newspaper clippings, yearbooks, correspondence, certificates and writings.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Advance notice is required for any audiovisual materials that do not have an access copy already created. Turnaround time for requested access copies will be no less than one week and is determined by the number of items requested and their duration.
Restrictions on Use
The collection is a combination of several donations by Terrell and Dorothy Blodgett.
Dorothy and Terrell Blodgett Papers (AR.W.002). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1984/147
Donation Date: 1991, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2015
The Dorothy Blodgett literary works and associations materials were processed as a student project in 1996. The research files of both Dorothy and Terrell were originally separated into individual collections. All of the materials except for The Yoga Center Records and the Texas Capitol Preservation and Extension Project Records were re-incorporated into this collection and the final finding aid was created and encoded by Molly Hults/2010. Subsequent additions were made by Ashley Adair/2011. The biographical material compiled by Terrell was added in 2012. Subsequent additions were made by Alex Geller/2015.
Newspaper clippings from the Austin American-Statesman that were loose in the boxes and dated from the 1990s pertaining to the City of Austin were discarded as these items are available online. Awards given to Terrell Blodgett were photocopied and returned to the donor.
Original folder headings were preserved when they existed; additional explanations were added in parenthesis if needed.
Detailed Description of the Collection