Research Ready: October 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for October:

Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work
Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work. Their papers document their work, family, and social life in Waco, Texas.
Bolt Family Homestead and Legion Valley massacre scrapbook photo, 1985
Dr. Johnie Reeves at a vista overlooking the Colorado River and the Comanches’ route after the Legion Valley massacre of 1868. Legion Valley is on the other side of the Cedar Mountains in the distance.
  • William Carley Family Collection, 1834-1936, undated: Documenting the Carley family from 1836-1936, this collection includes records about William Carley’s experiences moving to Texas in 1836, his service in the United States-Mexican War, and other events in the life of the family.
  • Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé Papers, 1908-1987: This archives consists of manuscripts pertaining to the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Du Congé. Oscar  was the first African-American Mayor of Waco, and his wife, Mary, was a schoolteacher and secretary who was a leader in the community, a socialite, and a volunteer member of many Catholic religious organizations.
  • Wilhelm Esch Collection, 1870-1943: This collection contains certificates of  appointment and of honorable discharge for German-American soldier Wilhelm Esch, photographs and books concerning military life in World War I, items related to the Order of the Elks and miscellaneous WWII items including ration books.
  • Guyler (Lydia Ann English) [Mrs. William] Papers, 1860:  A correspondence between
    Mrs. Lydia A. Guyler (Mrs. William) from General Sam Houston, in response to Mrs. Guyler’s request for Houston to name her daughter.
  • Adolf Hitler Papers, 1938-1943: Our Hitler Papers contain two documents signed by the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
  • Benjamin Judson Johnson Papers, 1942-1960: These papers include correspondence, legal documents, literary productions, and artifacts relating to Benjamin’s experience in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II.
  • Jones Family Papers, 1857-1867, 1920, undated: The Jones family records consist of correspondence, legal, and financial documents, including fourteen Civil War letters from family members in the 10th Texas Infantry.
  • Luper Family Papers, 1909-1990: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a Baptist missionary family and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal, Brazil, and central Texas. (This finding aid is updated with additional materials that came to The Texas Collection after we initially announced the finding aid in June 2012.)
  • Harry Hall Womack, Jr. Papers, 1940-1948: Womack’s papers consist of correspondence and literary productions relating to his experiences in the 1940s. These include medical school, a tour as a doctor in the Army during World War II, and the beginnings of his marriage and family.

Soaring on Wings like Eagles: Greaver Miller, Rich Field and World War I

A German Albatros D.V war plane, captured during the war and brought to Rich Field in Waco, Texas
A German Albatros D.V war plane, captured during the war and brought to Rich Field in Waco, Texas

The year was 1918. The United States, under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, had struggled to remain neutral in a conflict that had engulfed the European powers and their colonial empires in war. For three years, Wilson successfully navigated his nation on the path of peace, but by 1917 it was painstakingly clear that the United States could not condone the belligerency of Germany. The sinking of passenger liners such as the Lusitania and provocations like the infamous Zimmerman Note had infuriated American officials. On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war against Imperial Germany.

An American pilot in training during World War I
An American pilot in training. It is evident throughout Miller’s collection that while learning how to fly, pilots at Rich Field were often trained in aerial photography. Diagrams for how to capture a good landscape photograph are included within these materials.

World War I witnessed shocking innovations in the realm of warfare. German U-Boats patrolled beneath the waves of the Atlantic for unsuspecting targets. The Allies and the Central Powers alike shelled their opponents from miles away with debilitating chemicals. Yet perhaps one of the most influential shifts in modern warfare theories arrived on the wings of the airplane. All nations, including the United States, understood that future military victories would require control of the skies.

Greaver Lewis Miller in his pilot gear, ca. 1918-1919
Greaver Lewis Miller was born on July 2, 1897. He enlisted with experience in the “automobile trade.” Here he is seen donning his pilot gear. His shin guards (not pictured) are in excellent shape and can be seen in the collection.

Thousands of miles away from the nearest battlefield, in the small town of Cooper, Texas, Greaver Lewis Miller was preparing to fulfill his civic duty. At twenty years old, Miller enlisted with the Army’s Signal Officer’s Reserve Corps with the hopes of becoming a certified pilot. With no prior aviation experience, Miller graduated from the U.S. School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Texas at Austin on July 13, 1918. Armed with the latest aviation theories, Miller put his knowledge to the test at Rich Field.

An airfield near Waco, Texas, Rich Field was devoted to the training of American pilots in the 1910s and 1920s. It was named after Perry Rich, a soldier who had died in a flying exercise in 1913. Abandoned shortly after the war, the airfield was used as a civilian airport for a number of years. (And for our Waco readers—yes, Richfield High School was constructed on part of its site.)

Greaver Lewis Miller's pilot book
A small sample of Miller’s pilot book that he kept while training at Rich Field. Notice how detailed these records were. (Click on the image to see a larger view.) There were sharp variations in what type of plane was used, what type of exercises were conducted, the duration of the flights, and the maximum altitude reached.
Greaver Lewis Miller's certificate of promotion to Second Lieutenant, 1919
On February 15, 1919, Miller was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. His certificate was signed by the U.S. Adjutant General and the Assistant Secretary of War.

In its prime, Rich Field was home to some of the best pilots the U.S. military had to offer. Flying an airplane was an art, and Miller excelled at it. On December 13, 1918, he officially became a “Reserve Military Aviator” by passing the required examinations. While Miller’s papers don’t tell us much about the particulars of his WWI service, we know he continued to impress his superiors—he rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant on February 15, 1919.

Like many young boys, Miller had a dream to one day soar through the skies. Thanks to his determination and the opportunities that pilots had during the First World War, Miller’s dream became a reality. He had earned his wings.

Greaver Lewis Miller's pilot wings
This is the dream of anyone aspiring to become a pilot. Miller received his wings in 1918. The intricate detail of the feathers and the shield are nothing short of astounding.

The Greaver Lewis Miller papers, a small collection of Miller’s personal records, are available for research at The Texas Collection, thanks to the generosity of his son, Jerry. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, The Texas Collection thanks Greaver Lewis Miller and all those who have served our country.

By Thomas DeShong, Library Assistant

Research Ready: June 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for June:

Lane-JohnsonResidence-Waco
Roy Lane was one of the most famous architects to have ever resided in the Waco area. The Roy E. Lane Collection contains various sketches and photographs of local houses that Lane designed.
    • William Cowper Brann Collection: The William Cowper Brann Collection contains secondary materials and a few primary sources detailing the career and death of influential journalist William C. Brann, editor of The Iconoclast.
    • Robert F. Darden, Jr. Collection: The Robert Darden, Jr. Collection contains correspondence, literary productions, and photographic materials belonging to Darden, a veteran of the Korean War and a resident of Texas.
    • De La Vega Land Grant Papers: This collection includes original correspondence, court documents, financial receipts, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the De la Vega Land Grant and Roger Conger’s research on the land grant.
    • Roy Ellsworth Lane Collection: The Roy Ellsworth Lane Collections consists of correspondence, literary productions, photographs, and blueprints highlighting Lane’s impressive career as an architect in the central Texas region.
Luper-BrazilMission-program
The Lupers were a Baptist missionary family who served in Portugal and Brazil during the 20th century. This program is indicative of their conscientious efforts to spread the gospel to the rural regions of Brazil.
  • Luper Family Papers: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a missionary couple and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal and Brazil.
  • Greaver Lewis Miller Collection: The Greaver Lewis Miller Collection contains materials from an American pilot who trained at nearby Rich Field in Waco, Texas, during World War I. Materials include photographs, certificates, and artifacts from Miller’s time in the Army.

You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!