University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

E. O. (Eugene Omar) Goldbeck:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Living Insignia Collection

Creator: Goldbeck, E. O. (Eugene Omar), 1892-
Title: Living Insignia Group Portraits
Dates: 1925-1947
Extent: 267 items in boxes LI1-LI12, 8 oversize flat file drawers
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Living Insignia materials form a small but significant part of the E. O. Goldbeck Collection. Born in 1892, Eugene O. Goldbeck was a commercial photographer whose career spanned the better part of the twentieth century. San Antonio, Texas, was both his hometown and the headquarters of his business, which he eventually called the National Photo and News Service. In addition to photographing important events and scenes both locally and around the world, he specialized in large scale group portraits, often of military units. Among his military photographs, the Living Insignia projects are of particular interest. The soldiers of a selected division were posed so as to form a representation of the division's insignia when seen from the vantage point of a tower built for the occasion. Careful planning and preparation went into the production of each image.

The materials are arranged chronologically by the date on which the insignia formations were photographed. There are 11 different insignias represented in the collection, ranging in time from 1925 to 1947. The groups involved in creating these images ranged in size from 1,300 soldiers at Kelly Field to almost 22,000 at Lackland Air Force Base. The participating units were stationed in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, and Hawaii, among other places. In general, the materials include plans in pencil and/or ink, blueprints, glass, safety and nitrate negatives, and both vintage gelatin silver and modern prints, although the types of materials present for each insignia vary. For example, the Hawaiian Division Living Insignia of 1926 is represented by everything from preliminary plans to negatives and prints (the Hawaiian Division also has two entries--one for 1926 and one for 1932.). On the other hand, the collection contains only a plan and two maps relating to the 1st Cavalry Division of 1940. The nitrate negatives are in either banquet or panoramic format. While there are prints of some of the banquet negatives, prints of the panoramic negatives are not available. Prints are vintage unless noted otherwise.

For two of the insignias, the 2nd Division of 1925 and the 35th Infantry Regiment of 1933, the copyright is shown as belonging to someone other than Goldbeck.

The following are abbreviations used in the finding aid:

  • LI=living insignia
  • NV=nitrate vault
  • OV=oversize

For more information on E.O. Goldbeck, two books are available:

Burleson, Clyde W. and E. Jessica Hickman. The Panoramic Photography of Eugene O. Goldbeck. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1986. (TR 661 B87 1986 HRC-P)

Davenport, Marguerite. The Unpretentious Pose: The Work of E.O. Goldbeck, a People's Photographer. San Antonio, Tex.: Trinity University Press, 1981. (TR 140 G64 D28 HRC-P)



Open for research, except as noted in Access and Reproduction Restrictions

Access and reproduction restrictions

The Living Insignia materials in the E.O. Goldbeck Collection include vintage and modern prints as well as a number of glass, safety, and nitrate negatives. Patrons may access and research the prints and the glass and safety negatives; they are restricted from accessing the nitrate negatives. Patrons may request reproductions of any of the materials, including the nitrate negatives, from the Ransom Center. There is a copyright fee to be paid to the Goldbeck family.

Administrative Information


Gift, ca. 1967

Processed by:

Susan McClellan, 1998

Goldbeck Living Insignia Group Portraits--Container List

1925, Nov. 27, 2nd Division, U.S. Army. (insignia: Indian head inside 5-pointed star on shield)
Box Folder
LI-1 1 Prints, 8 items (plan, soldiers in formation), copyright G.F. Jennings

Box Folder
LI-1 2 1926, Jan. 20 Kelly Field, Living Air Service Insignia (insignia: winged shield)
2 Prints,
Extent 4 items (aerial view of soldiers and planes in formation with tower used by Goldbeck, newspaper articles about event, plans)
Banquet camera
Box Folder
LI-1 * Prints,
Extent 5 items including 2 modern prints
[*removed to OV32, 131B-D]
* Nitrate negatives,
Extent 6 items
[*removed to NV, 131A-F]
* Plans,
Extent 3 items
[*removed to OV96]

1926, May 13, Hawaiian Division, Schofield Barracks (insignia: taro leaf in circle with initials H and D at top); see also 1932, March 30
Box Folder
LI-2 1 9 items, including 2 printed in reverse (soldiers in formation)
2 10 items (newspaper articles about both about Hawaiian Division and Kelly Field events; plan marked on field with small groups of soldiers in various places; preliminary design)
Box Folder
LI-3 1 5 items, including 2 modern prints (breakup of formation; soldiers in process of forming last rows and in formation)
Box Folder
LI-4 1 3 items (plan; soldiers in formation)
Glass negatives
LI-5 4 items (plan marked on field with small groups of soldiers in various places; soldiers in process of forming last rows; soldiers in formation)
LI-6 4 items (plan; soldiers in process of forming insignia and in formation)
* Panoramic nitrate negatives,
Extent 5 items (breakup of formation; upper half of plan marked on ground with barracks in background)
[*removed to NV, #877]
* Plans,
Extent 7 items (blueprints, one with ms. notations; ink on paper; pencil on paper)
[*removed to OV97]

LI-6 1926, July, 36th Division, Palacios, Tex. (insignia: circle with T inside arrowhead)
* Plans, prints,
Extent 9 items including one modern print (blueprints; pencil on paper; soldiers in formation)
[*removed to OV98]

1932, March 30, Hawaiian Division, Schofield Barracks (insignia: taro leaf in circle)
Box Folder
LI-2 3 6 items (aerial views showing soldiers in formation and tower used by Goldbeck; plan marked on field with 2 soldiers in lower half; soldiers in process of forming insignia)
4 13 items (soldiers in formation)
Box Folder
LI-3 2 9 items, including published material and 6 modern prints (detached cover of Mid-Week Pictorial, N.Y., May 21, 1932 showing soldiers in formation plus 2 prints of cover; soldiers in process of forming insignia)
Box Folder
LI-4 2 5 items, including 2 modern prints (blueprint; plan marked on field with soldiers in various places)
3 5 items, including published material, transparency, (aerial views showing soldiers in formation and tower used by Goldbeck; issue of Mid-Week Pictorial, N.Y., May 21, 1932; page showing soldiers in formation from New York Times, May 15, 1932; soldiers in formation)
4 Prints,
Extent 6 items including 4 modern prints (soldiers in formation)
Glass negatives
LI-7 5 items (plan marked on field with 2 soldiers in upper half; soldiers in formation)
LI-8 5 items (plan marked on field with individual soldiers in various places; soldiers in formation)
LI-12 3 items (soldiers in formation, items captioned; matte with images related to the Hawaiian Division)
* Plans,
Extent 5 items (pencil and ink on paper; positive copies)
[*removed to OV97]

1933, June 25, 35th Infantry Regimental Insignia (insignia: cactus)
Box Folder
LI-1 3 Print (soldiers in formation), copyright R.L. Dancy

1935, June, 26th Infantry Regiment, Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y. (insignia: Mohawk arrowhead on shield)
Box Folder
LI-1 * Panoramic nitrate negatives, 6 items (soldiers in formation from close range and several feet overhead). Acquired from Charles B. Roper (Roper#25)
[*removed to NV]

1940, Jan., 1st Calvary Division (insignia: Norman shield with 1 diagonal stripe and horse's head at top right)
Box Folder
LI-1 * Plan, Review Field Sketches A and B (copies),
Extent 3 items
[*removed to OV99]

1940, March 23, 6th Division, Camp Jackson, S.C. (insignia: 6-pointed star in circle)
Box Folder
LI-9 1 Prints,
Extent 8 items (blueprint, soldiers in formation)
LI-10 Safety negatives,
Extent 4 items (plan marked on field with 2 soldiers; soldiers in formation)
* Plans,
Extent 11 items (blueprints; ink and/or pencil on paper)
[*removed to OV100]

1940, April, 1st Division, Ft. Benning, Ga. (insignia: Arabic no. one on shield in circle)
Box Folder
LI-9 2 Prints,
Extent 26 items (soldiers in formation)
LI-10 Print, safety negative,
Extent 2 items (soldiers in formation)
* Plans,
Extent 9 items
[*removed to OV101]

1947, July 19 Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland Air Base, San Antonio, Tex. (insignia: circle with pair of wings over 5-pointed star with disc inscribed)
LI-9, LI-11 Prints, safety negatives
Box Folder
LI-9 3 6 items (insignia patch; soldiers in formation)
LI-11 31 items including 1 modern print (soldiers in formation)
* Plan, prints, safety negatives,
Extent 18 items including 11 modern prints (blueprint with ms. notations; soldiers in formation)
[*removed to OV102]