University of Texas Arlington

Walter Prescott Webb Collection:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Webb, Walter Prescott.
Title: Walter Prescott Webb Collection
Dates: 1915-1983
Abstract: Walter Prescott Webb was a noted Texas historian, author, and professor that specialized in the history of the American West. This collection contains correspondence, speeches, photographs, articles, reviews, newspaper clippings, periodicals, booklet, notes, typescripts, and galley sheets. Includes biographical information, but primarily consists of typescripts and copies of articles, reviews, and addresses by Webb. Correspondence includes Webb's letters and letters from historians, politicians, publishers, and history buffs including W. Eugene Hollon and George Fuermann, as well as letters written about him. The materials were collected by Jenkins Garrett and Hollon; additional items were contributed by Mrs. Walter Prescott Webb.
Identification: AR314
Extent: 5 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Biographical Note

Walter Prescott Webb was born April 3, 1888, in Panola County in East Texas. When Webb was three, his family moved to Stephens County in West Texas. His father was a farmer and school teacher; his mother was a devout Baptist. The agrarian, frontier environment of his youth shaped the man. From an early age, Webb wanted to get out of agriculture and into writing. However water, soil, plain, and frontier would become recurring themes in his scholarly and popular writings.

From a letter written to a literary magazine during his youth, Webb attracted the attention of New York businessman William E. Hinds. Hinds' interest helped transform Webb's future, though the two never met. Hinds sent books and magazines which were otherwise unavailable to Webb in rural Texas. He encouraged Webb's writing and suggested he attend college. He even lent Webb money for his college education.

In 1915, at twenty-seven, Webb earned a B.A. from the University of Texas. In 1918, he began an illustrious teaching career at the University of Texas and rose from instructor to Distinguished Professor of History at Texas. Webb wrote his master's thesis and doctoral dissertation on the subject of the Texas Rangers. This work was reflected in The Texas Rangers, which was published in 1935. However Webb first came to national prominence in 1931 with his book, The Great Plains. For this work he received the Loubat Prize which Columbia awards at five-year intervals to the book which most contributes to the social sciences. In 1937, Webb wrote a controversial, inter-sectional socio-economic analysis, Divided We Stand. In 1952, Webb's significant work, The Great Frontier, was published. A collection of his shorter works entitled, An Honest Preface, was put out in 1959. Webb wrote or contributed to several other books and wrote numerous journal, magazine, and newspaper articles. Webb spoke frequently and was egalitarian in his selection of speaking engagements.

Webb taught with distinction at the University of Texas until his death in 1963. He lectured at numerous other universities including Duke, Northwestern, Harvard; served as Harkness Lecturer in American History at London University and as Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford; and received numerous awards and honors including an honorary M.A. from Oxford and honorary doctorates from Southern Methodist University and the University of Chicago. During his tenure at Texas, Webb supervised over one-hundred master's theses and doctoral dissertations.

In addition to writing scholarly pieces for an academic setting, Webb also wrote for popular publications. He advised the founders of the then new publications True West and Frontier Times and contributed several popular historical pieces to these two publications. He authored several articles for Harper's Magazine, some of which continued to cause controversy even after his death. Webb also originated the idea of the Handbook of Texas and served as its editor-in-chief.


  • Joe B. Frantz, "Walter Prescott Webb: The Life of a Texan,"Texas Libraries 25 no. 3 (Fall 1963): 77-82
  • Walter Prescott Webb, "The Confessions of a Texas Bookmaker," ibid., 88-96. Box 1, Folder 11.

Scope and Contents

The Walter Prescott Webb Collection is an artificial collection of the literary works, correspondence, and ephemera of the noted writer and teacher of history. It consists of approximately three-hundred items. The bulk of the collection deals with his literary works from 1915 through 1964. Webb wrote most of these works during the period 1940-1963.

The folders in each series about Webb are arranged in alphabetical order. The bulk of the biographical material about Webb was written at his death in 1963. Bibliographies of his work are available in Box 1, Folders 1 and 11 (pp. 82-87). The Texas Observer (Box 1, Folder 12) and Joe B. Frantz (Box 1, Folder 11, pp. 77-82) produced excellent biographical material on Webb. Webb's "The Confessions of a Texas Bookmaker," (Box 1, Folder 11, pp. 88-96 and Box 4, Folder 20) provides autobiographical information, particularly about his youth. Other materials about Webb include interviews with Webb, articles about Webb and his work, and ways in which Webb has been recognized.

Most of the collections materials produced by Webb have been published. Folders within each of these series are arranged by date, generally with one published piece per folder. Many of these are presented in more than one form within the folder. Correspondence is arranged by source and destination. Letters are arranged within folders chronologically, with undated material placed at the back of the folder. Pieces in one series frequently duplicate pieces in another. An effort has been made to provide the work of Webb in each of its forms. Some help in cross referencing professional addresses with articles may be found in Box 4, Folder 26. In addition to correspondence, the series of work by Webb includes journal articles, book chapters, magazine articles, newspaper articles, reviews, addresses, miscellaneous writings, and books. Hardcover books by Webb are housed separately and may be accessed through the library catalog system. Miscellaneous writings include pieces which could not be placed in another series because of a lack of ready information which would allow them to be more precisely categorized. In some circumstances a prior arrangement by subject has been retained within this subseries.


The collection is arranged in 14 series:
Series I. Biography
Series II. Interviews with Webb
Series III. Articles About Webb
Series IV. About Webb's Work
Series V. In Recognition of Webb
Series VI. Correspondence by Webb
Series VII. Journal Articles
Series VIII. Book Chapters
Series IX. Magazine Articles
Series X. Newspaper Articles
Series XI. Reviews by Webb
Series XII. Addresses
Series XIII. Miscellaneous Writings
Series XIV. Books



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.
Webb, Walter Prescott, 1888-1963.
Webb, Walter Prescott, 1888-1963--Bibliography.
University of Texas--Faculty.
Frontier and pioneer life--West (U.S.).
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection

Administrative Information


Walter Prescott Webb Collection, AR314, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.


The Walter Prescott Webb Collection was a gift from three sources to the University of Texas at Arlington in 1974 and 1976. The collection was received in January and February of 1976. The bulk of the collection came from Jenkins Garrett, of Fort Worth, Texas, a Webb collector and former student and W. Eugene Hollon, of Toledo, Ohio. Substantial additional material was provided by Mrs. Walter Prescott Webb, of Austin, Texas. Legal title, copyright, and literary property rights to unpublished materials have been transferred to UTA. Published materials are protected by copyright laws.

Administrative Information

Grant Support

The retrospective updating and conversion of this finding aid was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Special Collections "Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records" project, 2014-2015.

Container List

Series I. Biography

Box Folder
1 1 Bibliographies (2)
2 Catalog of Webb's Library
3 Congressional Record, December 20, 1963
4 Daily Texan, March 10, 12, 1963
5 Fuermann Notes on Webb
6 Heinsohn Funeral Sermon
7 Journal of the West, 11 no. 3 (July 1963) Reprint
8 The Junior Historian, September 1963, March 1967
9 Miscellaneous Death Notices
10 Photos
11 Texas Libraries, 25 no. 3 (Fall 1963)
12 Texas Observer, July 26, 1963
13 Wives

Series II. Interviews with Webb

Box Folder
1 14 U.S. News and World Report, October 24, 1958

Series III. Articles about Webb

Box Folder
1 15 The American West, 1 no. 1 (Winter 1964)
16 Frantz, "Walter Prescott Webb: No Slave of Whistle, Clock, or Bell"
17 Kidd, "Walter Prescott Webb at Friday Mountain"
18 Miscellaneous Magazine Articles
19 Miscellaneous Newspaper Articles
20 Miscellaneous Xeroxed Articles
21 Prologue, 15 no. 4 (Winter 1983)

Series IV. About Webb's Work

Box Folder
1 22 History of American Civilization-By Its Interpreters, Video Series
23 Miscellaneous Newspaper Reviews
24 Newsweek, May 11, 1959
25 Rio Grande History, 2 no. 1-2 (Summer 1974)
26 The Texas Rangers
27 "To the Texas Triumvirate" a Poem

Series V. In Recognition of Webb

Box Folder
1 28 Academics
29 Honors
30 "The Last Windfall"
31 Webb Symposia

Series VI. Correspondence by Webb

Box Folder
1 32 About Webb, January, 1936-March, 1969
33 From Webb, General, April, 1916-April, 1960
34 From Webb to E. Hollon, June 1945-May, 1961
35 From Webb to G. Fuermann, August, 1953-September, 1962
36 To Webb, From G. Fuermann, June, 1955-September, 1961
37 To Webb, General, March, 1924-December, 1960, undated

Series VII. Journal Articles

Box Folder
2 1 "Notes on Folklore of Texas, "Journal of American Folklore, July-September, 1915
2 "The Last Treaty of the Republic of Texas, "Southwestern Historical Quarterly, January, 1922
3 "Caldwell Prize in Local History, "Texas History Teacher's Bulletin, October, 1924
4 "Salute to Youth-Editorial, "The Junior Historian, September, 1944
5 "English Universitie: Oxford and Cambridge, "Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, December, 1943
6 "The Function of History-An Editorial, "The Junior Historian, September, 1944
7 "How The Republican Party Lost its Future, "Southwest Review, Autumn, 1949 (3)
8 "An Honest Preface, "Southwest Review, Autumn, 1951 (2)
9 "Great Frontier in Modern Literature, "Southwest Review, Spring, 1952 (2)
10 "Dynamics of Property in the Modern World, "Southwest Review, Autumn, 1952 (2)
11 "Story of Some Prairie Inventions, "Nebraska History, December, 1953 (2)
12 "Physics, History, and Fate, "Physics Today, September, 1954 (2)
13 "The Historical Seminar: Its Outer Shell and Its Inner Spirit, "Miss. Valley Historical Review, June, 1955
14 "The South and the Golden Slippers, "Texas Quarterly, Spring, 1958
15 "History as High Adventure, "American Historical Review, January, 1959
16 "The South's Call to Greatness:…, "Texas Business Review, October, 1959
17 "Geographical-Historical Concepts in American History, "Annals of the Assoc. of American Geographers, June, 1960
18 "Letter to a College President, "Graduate Journal, Fall, 1960 (2)
19 "The Great Frontier: An Interpretation, "Forum, Autumn, 1963

Series VIII. Book Chapters

Box Folder
2 20 "Cultural Resources of Texas, " In Texas Looks Ahead, 1944
21 "The Western World Frontier, " In The Frontier in Perspective, 1957
22 "Preface, " In Texana at the University of Texas, 1962

Series IX. Magazine Articles

Box Folder
2 23 "Jewelry, "Sunset, February, 1924
24 "The American Revolver and the West, "Scribner's Magazine, February, 1927
25 "The Saga of the Six-Shooter, "Encore, February, 1947
26 "The Ranger Runs Down a Rumor, "The Ranger, March, 1950
Box Folder
3 1 "Ended: 400 Year Boom…"Harper's Magazine, October, 1951
2 "Windfalls of the Frontier, "Harper's Magazine, November, 1951
3 "On the Writing of Books, "The Alcalde, June, 1952
4 "Benny's Wisecracks, "The Alcalde, February, 1953
5 "Billion Dollar Cure for Texas' Drought,"Harper's Magazine, December, 1953
6 "The Quality of Courage, "True West, April, 1955; October, 1963; and Frontier Times, September, 1963
7 "Last War Trail of Victorio, "True West, April, 1957
8 "The American West, Perpetual Mirage, "Harper's Magazine, May, 1957 and Response in Congressional Record
9 "The West and the Desert, "Montana, Winter, 1958
10 "From Split Rails to Barbed Wire, "True West, July-August, 1960
11 "The Search for William E. Hinds, "Harper's Magazine, July, 1961 (2) and Reader's Digest
12 "The Bandits of Las Cuevas, "True West, October, 1962
13 "The Fence-Cutters, "True West, June, 1963

Series X. Newspaper Articles

Box Folder
3 14 "England in War Time, "Dallas Morning News, December, 1942-February, 1943
15 "England in War Time, "Dallas Morning News, March, 1943-April, 1943
16 "England in War Time, "Dallas Morning News, May, 1943-June, 1943
17 "England in War Time, "Dallas Morning News, July, 1943-August, 1943
18 "Motion in that Flour Sack Still Shadows University, "Texas Spectator, May, 1946
19 "The Civilization, "Houston Post, January, 1955
20 "Post Card, "Houston Post, August 4, 1955 and July 26, 1956
21 "Austin: `The City of the State', "Austin American-Statesman, August, 1956
22 "Correspondence, "Dallas Morning News, August, 1957
23 "History as High Adventure, "Austin American-Statesman, May, 1959
24 "A Corner of the Old South, "Houston Post, June, 1959
25 "Dear Bedi:, "Texas Observer, June, 1959
26 "Today's Southwest… In Fact and Fiction, "Daily Texan, May, 1963
27 "Walter Webb, "Texas Observer, July, 1964
28 "The Heart of the University, " undated
29 Miscellaneous

Series XI. Reviews by Webb

Box Folder
3 30 American Historical Review, undated
31 Dallas Morning News, November, 1952-November, 1957
32 New York Times, May, 1957-May, 1958
33 Saturday Review, September, 1956-December, 1958

Series XII. Addresses

Box Folder
3 34 "The Unwritten Constitution of Anglo-American Peace, " May, 1938
35 "The Architect in the Modern Age, " May, 1951
36 "On the Writing of Books, " May, 1952
37 "In Pursuit of the Frontier, " September, 1952
38 "What is the Meaning of Western Week? " October, 1952
Box Folder
4 1 "Some Theories about the Great Frontier, " April, 1953
2 "To a University President, " October, 1953
3 "Education and the Vanishing Frontier, " February, 1954
4 "The Modern Historical Problem and Its Social Implications, " March, 1954
5 "The World Frontier, " August, 1954
6 "Water, Soil and Mankind, " August, 1954
7 "Economic Progress in the South, 1930-1950, " November, 1957 and Rewrite: "The South and the New Deal"
8 "History as High Adventure, " December, 1958
9 "A Corner of the Old South, " February, 1959
10 "The South's Call to Greatness: Challenge to All Southerners, " June, 1959
11 "A Texas Museum of Natural History in Houston, " February, 1960
12 "Geographical-Historical Concepts in American History, " April, 1960
13 "Resources-Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, " May, 1960
14 "Personal Privilege, " April, 1961 (2)
15 "Texas is our Garden, " November, 1961
16 "Social and Economic Factors Influencing the Grazing Industry of Texas and the Southwest, " January, 1962
17 Conference for Secondary and College Teachers in the Social Sciences, October, 1962
18 "The Cultural Characteristics of the Southwest, " November, 1962
19 "The South's Future Prospect, " December, 1962 Published in The Idea of the South, 1963
20 "The Confessions of a Texas Bookmaker, " March, 1963
21 "Impending Change in the American Scene, " undated and a variation "The Significance of the World Frontier to the Twentieth Century, " undated
22 "Learning and Wisdom: The Relevance of History, " undated
23 "Let's Live--and Prosper--in Dixie, " undated
24 "The Teachers and Writers of History, " undated
25 "Water Conservation as Private Enterprise, " undated
26 Webb's Addresses Cross Referenced on Note Cards
27 Webb's Lecture Outlines

Series XIII. Miscellaneous Writings

Box Folder
4 28 "Coca Cola and Culture"
29 "Concerning Mr. Dobie and the University of Texas, " September, 1947 Reprint 1964
Box Folder
5 1 Deserts (5)
2 Education and Teachers (4)
3 Frontier (3)
4 "Hypothesis and History"
5 Politics (4)
6 "The Riddle of the Western"
7 "The Strange Character of the American West"
8 Texas (5)
9 "Texas and Points West," August-September, 1956 (3)

Series XIV. Books

Box Folder
5 10 Flat Top: A Story of Modern Ranching, 1960
11 Gallery of History as High Adventure, pp. 1-157
12 Gallery of History as High Adventure, pp. 158-239