A Guide to the John Lang Sinclair Papers, 1899-1977
John Lang Sinclair was born near Center Point, Texas, on November 26, 1879 and raised on a dairy farm in eastern Bexar County. Sinclair attended the University of Texas and was an active member of the university band and Glee Club; served as editor of the campus literary magazine and the literary section of the Cactus yearbook; and played football.
In March 1903, Sinclair wrote the verse for "The Eyes of Texas," set to the tune of "I’ve Been Working on the Railroad," on a scrap piece of laundry paper. Sinclair’s friend, Lewis Johnson, had been encouraging him to write a song for the university. His first attempt in 1902, "Jolly Students of the Varsity," was well received by students. The next year, though, Sinclair tried again and drafted "The Eyes of Texas." After significant revisions inspired by then UT President William L. Prather’s admonition to students that "the eyes of Texas" were upon them, the song was performed by the Glee Club quartet on May 12, 1903 at a university band minstrel show. Sinclair accompanied the quartet on banjo. The song’s popularity led to its eventual adoption as the official song of the University of Texas when in 1936 the UT Students’ Association had it copyrighted.
After graduating from UT in 1904, Sinclair tried farming near Artesia Wells in La Salle County. He returned to work on his family’s dairy farm with his brother in 1908. Around 1923, Sinclair moved to New York City, where he became a partner in a tax and investment advisory service and, in 1945, married Stella C. Anderson (1888-1959) of San Antonio. Sinclair died in New York on January 4, 1947, and is buried with his wife in the Masonic Cemetery in San Antonio.
Margaret C. Berry, "EYES OF TEXAS,"Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xee01), accessed February 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Nicar, Jim. "History of School and Fight Songs."Longhorn Band: The Showband of the Southwest, University of Texas at Austin. Accessed February 21, 2013. http://mbe187.music.utexas.edu/Longhornband/History/Songs.aspx.
"The Eyes of Texas are Upon You." June 1, 2011. Inside the Gates, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library. Accessed February 21, 2013. http://drtlibrary.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/%E2%80%9Cthe-eyes-of-texas-are-upon-you%E2%80%9D/
Papers contain the manuscript lyrics of "The Eyes of Texas" written by UT student John Lang Sinclair in 1903, as well as copies of some of his other poems. The papers also include undated photographs of Sinclair and his birthplace, collected school songs, copies of legislation regarding the copyright and official adoption of the song by the university, newspaper clippings, and select biographical material published about Sinclair by James Anderson.
The bulk of these documents are photocopies of material written or collected by James Anderson about John Lang Sinclair (rather than the personal papers of Sinclair himself). These were originally a part of the UT Richard T. Fleming University Writings Collection Records, but were later separated to the Sinclair Papers.
This collection is open for research use.
John Lang Sinclair Papers, 1899-1977, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by archives staff.
Subsequent revisions were made by Vanessa Attia, February 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers