Austin History Center

Darby and Moerke Families Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Darby, Harry Philip
Creator: Moerke, Francis Randolph
Title: Darby and Moerke Families Papers
Dates: 1890-1960
Dates (Bulk): 1917-1948
Abstract: The Darby and Moerke Families Papers is a very small collection of materials that document the lives of two Austin, Texas, families during the 20th century. The Darby family was heavily involved in the United States Military, serving in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, and several military artifacts from circa 1940-1960 document their lives. The Moerke family materials document the visual works that the family created.
Accession number: AR.M.010
Quantity: 0.2 linear feet (1 box)
Location: Archives Stacks, Artifacts
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Sketch

Harry Philip Darby was born August 2, 1920. He served in the United States Army during World War II with the 2nd Corps of Engineers and later served during the Korean War with the 2nd Division. He was Austin's first casualty during the Korean War. He was killed in action in the Naktong River section on September 19, 1950. Funeral services held with full military honors took place at Bergstrom Air Force Base Chapel on July 30, 1951, and he was buried at Austin Memorial Park in Austin, Texas. His father Philip Darby, born May 15, 1888, served in the U.S. Army during World War I and spent his final years in Austin. Little else is known about the Darby family.

Francis Randolph Moerke, born on November 17, 1898, moved from Chico, California, to Austin, Texas, in 1940 with his wife, Ada Moses Moerke, and their daughter, Letitia. He became well-known in Austin for his calligraphy art, and he was often commissioned to create certificates and illuminated manuscripts. When they first moved to Austin, he worked selling real estate, and then in 1946 he took a position with the University of Texas at Austin as an advertising director and then as business manager for Texas Student Publications. In 1952, he began working as the public relations director for Von Boeckmann-Jones Printing Company, where he stayed until he retired in 1965. He continued his calligraphy and illuminated manuscript work until his death in 1990.

Scope and Contents

The materials are arranged into a Darby Family Series and Moerke Family Series. The materials for both families were collected and donated by the same individual, but the relationship between the Darby and Moerke families remains unclear.

The Moerke Family Series mainly documents the visual work of Francis Randolph Moerke, Ada Moses Moerke, and Letitia Moerke McCann. Undated pen and ink drawings by Francis Randolph Moerke of a fish, a pirate ship, and people/street scenes of Sacramento, California, and Peru; a construction paper work by Letitia Moerke McCann; and paper weaving and a cut paper collage by Ada Moses Moerke are part of this series. Also documented are lesson plans and a school supplies catalog of Ada Moses Moerke's, both dating back to 1917.

The Darby Family Series dates from the 1940s-1960s and primarily documents Harry Philip Darby who served in World War II and the Korean War. Along with certificates and honors on paper, there are numerous medals, lapel pins, military patches, and other artifacts which are available in a linked index. There is one photograph in this series which is a black-and-white portrait of Philip Darby in his World War I uniform, though the exact date of the photograph is unknown.

A small collection of Assorted Materials dating from around the 1890s-1910s documents handwritten and printed sheet music, theater advertisements, and a copy of the opera La Boheme. The history of which family, if either, owned these materials is unclear.


This collection is arranged into three series:
I. Moerke Family
II. Darby Family
III. Assorted Materials


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

Subjects (Persons)
Moerke, Francis Randolph, 1897-1990.
Moerke, Ada Moses, -1972.
McCann Letitia Moerke, 1921-1970.
Darby, Philip, 1888-1974.
Darby, Harry Philip, 1920-1950.
Subjects (Organizations)
United States. Army.
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers.
Korean War, 1950-1953.
World War, 1914-1918.
World War I.
World War, 1939-1945.
World War II.
Armed Forces.
Austin (Tex.)--Genealogy.
Austin (Tex.)--Social life and customs.
Document Types
Greeting cards.
Legal documents.
Black-and-white photographs.
Sheet music.
Paperwork (visual works).
Color patches (military patches).
Dog tags (military tags).

Related Material

Austin Files

  • AF Biography - Darby, Harry Philip
  • AF Biography - Moerke, Francis Randolph
  • AF Subject - World War II W5700
  • AF Subject - World War I W5500
  • AF Subject - U.S. Armed Forces - Korean War U1500(16)
  • AF Subject - Artists A6800

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The donor was married to Harry P. Darby who died in the Korean War in 1950. The relation to the Moerke family is unclear.

Preferred Citation

Darby and Moerke Families Papers (AR.M.010). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1974/073

Donation Date: 1974 October

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Kelly Hanus, September 2017.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Moerke Family, 1913-1917, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Francis Randolph Moerke - Christmas cards, 6 pen and ink sketches by F.R. Moerke, construction paper artwork by Letitia Moerke McCann (daughter), undated
2 Ada Moses Moerke - school supplies catalog, lesson plans, paper weaving, cut paper artwork, funeral notice for Ealy J. Moses, 1913-1917

Darby Family, circa 1940s-1960s

Box Folder
1 3 Harry Philip Darby - certificate of membership to The Society of American Military Engineers, commendation certificate, American Military Engineers insignia print, certificate of honor, circa 1940s-1960s
4 Philip Darby - black-and-white photograph-portrait in World War I uniform, undated
Location BoxItem
Artifacts 110/001-051 View an index of the artifacts here.

Assorted Materials, circa 1890s-1910s

Box Folder
1 5 Sheet music, La Boheme opera, theater advertisements, circa 1890s-1910s