Austin History Center

Sanders and Elliott Family Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Sanders, Sarah Pelham Elliott
Title: Sanders and Elliott Family Papers
Dates: 1862-1971
Dates (Bulk): 1943-1945
Abstract: Martyn and Jane Elliott moved to Austin in 1901, establishing a successful photograph studio at 814 Congress called, "The Elliotts, Makers of Pictures." The Elliott's daughter, Pelham, married Thad Bailey Sanders of Elgin, who served in the Navy during the Second World War and worked as a Personnel Director for the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation based out of Houston. The collection bulks from 1943-1945 and pertains to the families rather than to the Elliott's photography business. It consists of correspondence, clippings, biographical information, printed and photographic material and artifacts.
Accession number: AR.2007.022
Quantity: 5.5 linear feet (10 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks, qAR, Outer and Inner Vaults, Artifacts
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

The Sanders-Elliott Family Papers are an accumulation of materials created by the families of Martyn and Jane Elliott and Thad Bailey Sanders and Pelham Elliott Sanders. Martyn Elliott (1871-1936) married Jane Pelham McCaw (1871-1955), a native of South Carolina whose family history can be traced to the American Revolution, in Dallas in 1902. The couple moved to Austin and opened a photography studio called, "The Elliotts, Makers of Pictures" at 814 Congress. The Elliotts, as they preferred to be called, had the contracts for the University of Texas's annual and the official portraits for the Texas State Legislature. Jane, who is sometimes referred to as Jean or Jeannie, was a recognized partner in the business, a practice that was rare during the early 20th century. Both Martyn and Jane were active in local and national organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Confederacy, the Texas Fine Arts Association, the Ben Hur Shrine Temple (Martyn was a 32nd degree Mason), the National and State Photographers' Association, the Woman's National Federation of Photography, and were listed in Who's Who Section of the 1920, the Standard Blue Book of Texas. During the Great Depression, the Elliotts sold their studio and negatives to Jensen Studios and Student Publications, partially due to the poor economy, but mostly because of Martyn's failing health.

Jane Elliot's step-brother, Charles Pelham Wheeler, came to live with his sister in Austin several years after returning from working on the Panama Canal. Much of what Jane knew about photography, she learned from her step-father, William Wheeler.

The Elliotts had one daughter, Sarah Pelham Elliott (1908-1989). Pelham, as Sarah preferred to be called, attended the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with a BA in Stenography in 1929. Pelham briefly taught stenography at the Nixon-Clay Business College in Austin. In 1935, Pelham got a job as a stenographer at the Texas Relief Commission. In 1933, Pelham married Thad Bailey Sanders. They had one son, Charles Elliott Sanders (b. 1947).

Thad Bailey Sanders (1907-1992), the son of Tellie B. and Lily Bailey Sanders, was born and raised in Elgin, Texas. He attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1924 to 1928, majoring in Pre-Med. He also attended the UT Medical Brach in Galveston, lacking only one semester for a B.S. in Medicine. Thad married Sarah Pelham Elliott, also a student at UT, He worked for the State Health Department, where he was sent to Vanderbilt University to take a three month special course in sanitation before moving to San Angelo. In 1937, he joined the United States Employment Service, working there as a Training Supervisor until 1940 when he joined Taylor-Byrne-Briggs Contractors as the Director of Sanitation. Thad volunteered for the Navy in November 1943. He spent most of the Second World War in charge of a ward at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, but he also spent time in North Carolina and Abilene, TX. For the duration of his service, Thad and Pelham corresponded on a near daily basis, and Thad also wrote letter to his mother-in-law, Jane Elliott, who had moved in with Pelham shortly after Martyn passed away. In 1949, the Sanders moved to Houston where Thad landed a job working for the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation. Thad's job required him to travel all over the United States as evidenced in his correspondence with Pelham and Charles.

Charles Elliott Sanders was raised in Houston, and like his parents and grandparents expressed an interest in theater. Charles attended Vanderbilt University, majoring in theater and art. He would pursue a graduate degree in theater from Tufts University. Charles married a young actress named Joy, who was also from Houston. The couple traveled to London and spent several years there trying to break into the theater scene.

Scope and Contents

The Sanders and Elliott Papers is composed of correspondence, clippings, biographical information, legal records, ephemera, printed material, photographs, negatives, naval records, writings, membership records, drawings, and oversize documents. Spanning the years 1861-1973, the collection bulks from 1943-1945 when Thad Sanders and his wife Pelham corresponded almost daily. Pelham retained Thad's correspondence to her, and transcribed many of the letters written between the bulk dates. Thad Sanders wrote about his day-to-day activities in the Navy as well as his business activities. Of note are letters from Thad talking about the end of the Second World War and his desire to return home. The majority of the correspondence is from Thad Sanders to Pelham, but there is correspondence from and to other family members as well. Pelham Sanders corresponded with several friends during and after the Second World War and kept the letters sent to her from her parents. A 1939 letter from Jane Elliott to her daughter Pelham discussed the selling of the Elliotts' photography studio to Jensen Studios and Student Publications. Charles Sanders wrote his parents frequently during his first few years at Vanderbilt and during his time in London. He often wrote about plays he was engaged in or about his budget.

Other than the 1939 letter mentioned above, the only other item which may relate to the Elliotts' photography business is a small scrapbook in Jane and Martyn's series. It contains various printed information and handwritten notes, primarily in Jane's hand, related to the technical aspects of producing photographs. Biographical information mostly pertains to the avid genealogy activities by Jane Elliott and her daughter Pelham. The photographs include pictures of First lady Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to the San Diego Naval Hospital. The bulk of the photographs are from Thad Sanders's time in the Navy. Several of the photographs are of the Naval Hospital or of people Thad worked with in San Diego. There are small photographs that appear to be from India or elsewhere in the Pacific and are thought to have been sent by Joe Root, a friend of Sanders and who corresponded with Pelham during the war. Several photographs are undated and have unidentified people, but many are thought to be of family members. There are also childhood photographs of Thad, Pelham, and Charles Sanders. Legal files and certificates include marriage certificates and deeds of property owned by Jane Elliott.


The arrangement reflects the creator of the materials in each series. Correspondence is primarily grouped around the sender rather than the recipient as the letters tend to reflect more on the sender.
Arranged into 6 series
I. Charles Pelham Wheeler
II. Jane and Martyn Elliott
III. Thad Bailey Sanders
IV. Sarah Pelham Elliott Sanders
V. Charles Sanders
VI. Photographic Material
VII. Artifacts


Access Restrictions

Open to all users

Use Restrictions

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Elliott, Jane.
Elliott, Martyn.
Sanders, Charles.
Sanders, Sarah Pelham Elliott.
Sanders, Thad Bailey.
Wheeler, Charles Pelham.
The Elliotts, Makers of Pictures.
United States. Navy.
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation.
University of Texas at Austin.
Austin (Tex.)--Social life and customs.
Dallas (Tex.).
Houston (Tex.).
San Diego (Cal.).
United States. Navy--History--World War, 1939-1945.
United States. Navy--Biography.

Related Material

Austin Files

  • AF Biography - Elliott Family
  • AF Biography - Elliott, Martyn (text and photos)
  • AF P3500(2) - Photography and Photographers - The Elliotts
  • AF P3500(19) - Photography and Photographers - Jensen and Raymer
  • AF Housebuilding - 10th Street, West 117 (text and photos)

Manuscript Collections

  • AR.1994.047 Sarah Pelham Elliott Scrapbook
  • AR.2011.034 Jensen-Raymer Photographs and Records (unprocessed collection composed of approximately 28.5 linear feet of material. Part of it includes nitrate and glass negatives, photographs, log books, financial records and other printed items belonging to the Elliott's photography business. Located in the AHC inner cold storage vault)

Separated Material

Gossip, Vol. 4, Number 8, Sept. 19, 1914 - To Periodicals Collection

To AHC Book Sale:

The Photo Miniature, Vol. 9, no. 106, March, 1920

The American Annual of Photography, 1910

Gallant Pelham: American Extraordinary, Charles G, Milham, 1959

The Phi Chi Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 1, January 1931

Genealogy of the Witherspoon Family, Joseph G. Wardlaw, 1910

Ozotype, Thomas Manly, 1901

Cramer's Manual on Negative Making, G. Cramer, undated

Snap Shots, vol. 45, no. 11, November 1933

The Art of Negative Making, M.A. Seed Dry Plate Company, 1903

Hammer's Little Book: A Short Talk on Negative Making, with Many Helpful Formulas, Hammer Dry Plate CO., undated

The "A.B.C." Guide to the Making of Autotype Prints in Permanent Pigments, J.R. Sawyer, 1899

East Lynne, Ned Albert, undated

Marton's New Theater on the Modern Methods of Carbon Printing, A.M. Marton, 1905

The AGFA Book of Photographic Formulae, George L. Barrows, 1910

Wilson's Cyclopedic Photography, Edward S. Wilson, 1894

Two 1941 Austin pocket maps - To AHC Booksale

Miscellaneous printed material - Recycled

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Sanders and Elliott Family Papers (AR.2007.022). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1993/073

Donation Dates: October 2007/April 2008

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared and encoded by Mark Firmin/2011. Revisions and final encoding by Susan Rittereiser/2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Charles Pelham Wheeler, 1906-1945

Box Folder
1 1 Correspondence To and From Charles Pelham Wheeler, 1906-1945
2 Membership Records, 1907-1908
3 Report, 1916
4 Clippings, 1910-1911
Box Folder
8 9 Biographical Information, 1951
Location BoxItem
qAR 41/002 Speeches, 1909

II. Jane and Martyn Elliott, 1861-1960, undated

Correspondence, 1917-1960, undated
Box Folder
1 5 To Pelham Elliott, 1922-1923
6 To Pelham Elliott, 1924-1929
7 To Pelham Elliott Sanders, 1930-1938
8 To Pelham Elliott Sanders, 1939
9 To Pelham Elliott Sanders, 1940
10 To Pelham Elliott Sanders, 1941, undated
11 To and From Family and Friends, 1917-1950
12 Business Correspondence, 1923-1940
13 Clippings, 1903-1933, undated
14 Legal, 1920-1943
15 Legal, 1944-1960
Box Folder
8 10-11 McCaw-Elliott Biographical Information, 1861-1955, undated
Location BoxItem
qAR 41/010 McCaw-Elliott Biographical Information, 1784-1921
41/006-008 Certificates, 1784-1921
10 Scrapbook, undated

III. Thad Bailey Sanders, 1907-1964, undated

Box Folder
2 1 Biographical Information, 1907-1942
2 Naval Records, 1943-1945, undated
3 Clippings, 1926-1945, undated
Location BoxItem
qAR 41/001-005 Printed Material, WWII, 1943-1945
Box Folder
2 2 Printed Material, 1923-1945, undated
5 Membership Records, 1937-1939
6 Travel Schedules, undated
Box Folder
7 2 War News Bulletins, 1945
Box Folder
2 8 Writings, undated
9 Ephemera, 1911-1943, undated
Correspondence, 1933-1964, undated
Box Folder
3 1 To Pelham Sanders, 1933
2 To Pelham Sanders, 1934
3 To Pelham Sanders, 1936
4 To Pelham Sanders, 1937-1939
5 To Pelham Sanders, 1940
6 To Pelham Sanders, 1941
7 To Pelham Sanders, 1942
Box Folder
4 1 To Pelham Sanders, 1943
2 To Pelham Sanders, January 1944
3 To Pelham Sanders, February 1944
4 To Pelham Sanders, March 1944
5 To Pelham Sanders, April 1944
6 To Pelham Sanders, May 1944
7 To Pelham Sanders, June 1944
8 To Pelham Sanders, July 1944
Box Folder
5 1 To Pelham Sanders, August 1944
2 To Pelham Sanders, September 1944
3 To Pelham Sanders, October 1944
4 To Pelham Sanders, November 1944
5 To Pelham Sanders, December 1944
6 To Pelham Sanders, January 1945
7 To Pelham Sanders, February 1945
8 To Pelham Sanders, March 1945
9 To Pelham Sanders, April 1945
10 To Pelham Sanders, May 1945
11 To Pelham Sanders, June 1945
12 To Pelham Sanders, July 1945
Box Folder
6 1 To Pelham Sanders, August 1945
2 To Pelham Sanders, September 1945
3 To Pelham Sanders, October-November 1945
4 To Pelham Sanders, 1947-1948
5 To Pelham Sanders, 1949
Box Folder
3 6 To Pelham Sanders, 1950-1958
Box Folder
6 7 To Pelham Sanders, undated
8 To Jane Elliott, 1943-1945
9 To Friends, undated
10 From Family, 1936-1945, undated
11 From Friends, 1939-1964, undated
12 Professional and Financial, 1937-1949
Box Folder
7 1 Transcribed, to Pelham Sanders, November 1943-March 1944
2 Transcribed, to Pelham Sanders, March 1944-June 1944

IV. Sarah Pelham Elliott Sanders, 1920-1971, undated

Box Folder
7 3 Biographical Information, 1920-1943
4 Certificates, 1908-1971
Location BoxItem
qAR 41/003 Certificates, 1929
Box Folder
7 6 Writings, 1925, undated
6 Drawings, undated
Correspondence, 1925-1965, undated
Box Folder
7 7 To Thad Sanders, 1945, undated
8 To and From Family, 1939-1965
9 From Friends, 1925-1943
10 From Friends, 1943-1945, 1948
11 From Lila Cooper, 1940-1942, undated
12 From Assorted, 1933-1945
10 Scrapbook, undated

V. Charles Sanders 1950-1973, undated

Correspondence 1950-1973, undated
Box Folder
7 13 To Parents, 1960-1962, undated
14 To Parents, 1965
Box Folder
8 1 To Parents, 1966
2 To Parents, 1967
3 To Parents, 1968-1969
4 To Parents, 1970-1973
5 Postcards to Charles from Thad, 1950, 1958, undated
6 Playbills and Critics Reviews, 1966-1967
7 Voter Registration Certificate, 1968
8 Biographical Information, 1947-1949

VI. Photographs

Box Folder
9 1-3 Thad Sanders, Naval Service ca. 1943
4 Eleanor Roosevelt, ca. 1944
5 Thad Sanders, 1919-1928,undated
6 Charles Elliott Sanders, undated
7 Sarah Pelham Elliott Sanders, undated
8 Sarah Pelham Wheeler, undated
9 Jane Elliott, undated
10 Unidentified, undated
Location BoxItem
qAR 41/004 Martyn Elliott, Undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Negatives drawer Negatives, undated
Inner Vault Nitrate Negatives and Glass Plates, undated

VII. Artifacts, 1905-ca.1943

Location BoxItem
Artifacts Box 49/003 Foldable lunch box, ca. 1943
Box 49/001-002 The Aristo Cup, P.A. of Texas, 1905, 1907
Box 49/004 Elliott Photographers Promotional Ribbon, undated