Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Newspapers

Elks-a-Plenty — 1908

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_fullBegirt with ruffles and studded with elks…

by Paula Bosse

Conventions have always been important to Dallas. One of the most important conventions ever to descend upon the city was the annual convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in July 1908. There were approximately 38,000 attendees, but when you added to that number spouses and various others with business, social, or just looky-loo interests, it was estimated that more than 100,00 out-of-towners clogged the streets of our fair burg during the time of the convention. Dallas was a sizeable city in 1908, but the sudden swarming into town of 100,000 people (twice the actual population of the city!) must have been… challenging. (And profitable!)

Dallas welcomed the Elks with enthusiasm and open arms. Everyone knew they were coming, and everywhere there were splashes of the Elk colors, purple and white. A special (and later notorious) semi-permanent arch was erected to span Main Street at Akard. And businesses competed with one another to see who could decorate their building with the most spectacular and festive bunting.

Above is a photo of the Dallas Morning News Building at the northwest corner of Commerce and Lamar, crammed full of flags, bunting, pennants, cowbells, lights, little statues of elks, medium-sized statues of elks, and large statues of elks. (There is an elk in every window.) It also had a large clock erected which was perpetually stuck at an Elk-y 11:00 and a parallelogram-shaped sign which lit up to flash the Elk greeting “Hello, Bill!” So… a lot. But what might seem like overkill — like The News was trying a little too hard to be noticed… the Elks loved it. LOVED IT. They loved it so much that they awarded the newspaper an award of $250 for the best decorated building in the city (that would be about $8,000 in today’s money!). Scroll down to read a breathless description of these decorations, with details of absolutely everything that was flapping, clanging, flashing, billowing, and throbbing at Commerce and Lamar in the summer of 1908. (I have to put this sentence from the article here because I love it so much: “To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle.”)

So, those elk statues. I mean… they’re fantastic. Little elks in every window, illuminated by a single electric bulb positioned “between the forefeet” of each mini-elk. And then there are the larger ones appearing to step out of — or off of — the building. But back to those little elks — are you wondering what happened to them after the conventioneers headed back home? Wonder no more!

elks_news-bldg_belo-ad_071808Dallas Morning News, July 18, 1908

That would have been a great souvenir!

The photo at the top of this post (by Frank B. Secrest of Hunt County) was issued that summer as a postcard. The News did not miss an opportunity to mention it:

elks_news-bldg_dmn_080708DMN, Aug. 7, 1908


And because I love to zoom in on these sorts of photos, here are a few magnified details:








Here is a lengthy description of the decorations, from The Dallas Morning News — direct from the horse’s mouth:

To decorate The News Building in celebration of the coming of the Elks has been the labor of two men for more than a month, and of a dozen for two days: for, though it was only three days ago that the first bit of color appeared on the outer walls, the preparations were begun in the seclusion of a workshop early in June. The draping of the building with bunting and flags was done under the direction of W. T. Senter of the National Decorating Company of St. Louis, and of Edward A. Gebhard, librarian of The News. In working out their scheme they have used 4,200 yards of bunting, purple, white and purple, and twenty-four immense flags, and disposed of it in such artistic fashion as to avoid a sense of crowding.


The building is thrice begirt with big ruffles of purple, white and purple. But, to begin at the topmost, three large flags, one the United States, another the Texas and the other The News’ flag, float high above the Lamar street side of the building. To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle. From one to the other of the flagstaffs hundreds of small pennants in the colors of the Elks flutter gayly in the breeze. Festooned from the heavy cornice which crowns the building are heavy folds of purple, white and purple so arranged that with every vagrant breeze it swells and sinks like the surface of water. Once on the Lamar street side, over the entrance, again at the corner and once on the Commerce street side this bunting is gathered around an immense United States flag, fashioned fan-shape. Poised on the cornice of the building at the corner, as if surveying the land preparatory of a leap, is the graceful figure of an elk, five and a half feet high, made out of plaster of Paris, painted and enameled until he glistens.

The two lower ledges of the building are draped in similar fashion, except that the streamers at these places are narrower than those that festoon the cornice. Above the main entrance on the Lamar street side and extending from below the second story to the third-story ledge is the piece de resistance. Here set in an embrasure of the building, is a clock dial twelve feet in diameter. The gilt letters marking the divisions of the circle are two feet high. The hands point to the hour of 11. The pure white head and shoulders of an elk seven feet high are shown in the center one foot forward, as if he were about to emerge from the fluffy mass of purple and white bunting that forms the background dial. On each side an immense flag is gathered in a way to make it fan-shaped. Circling the clock dial are six large incandescent lights.


From the third-story corner of the building, above which stands a five and one-half foot Elk, as if surveying the country from a precipice, are festooned two twelve-foot flags that fall almost to the second-story ledge of the building. One is gathered around on the Commerce and the other on the Lamar street side. And there yet remains to speak of the most distinctive feature of the whole scheme of decoration. The News, in preparation for this event, had made a whole herd of elks. There are forty-two of them, each thirty-two inches tall, and one, mounted on a pedestal, stands poised from the ledge of every window in the building. They are pure white, made of plaster Paris, painted twice and then enameled. Between the forefeet of every one is an electric bulb. The elks are from models designed by Mr. Gebhard and were cast in The News Building.


Of course the whole building is brilliantly lighted. In addition to the electricity used ordinarily, which lights the exterior of The News Building pretty well, bulbs have been studded profusely midst the decorations and over the Lamar street entrance is a parallelogram of electric lights which illuminate the sign, “Hello, Bill!”


The article then launches into more self-promotion, with an, admittedly, interesting description of the layout of the News Building:


The building of The News attracted general attention from the thousands of visiting Elks. Many expressed their surprise that a city the size of Dallas had such a complete, modern building and equipment, and the compliments concerning The News as a newspaper have been very pleasing.

The News Building has all the modern fireproof features. It occupies a space of 300×100, having three floors and a basement, the whole being used by the newspaper. Its business office is one of the handsomest in the State, and, as one visitor remarked, it looks more like a prosperous bank than the ordinary newspaper office.

The first floor is given up to the business and circulation departments, the press room and the mailing department. In the basement are the paper storage rooms and the power department. On the second floor are the editorial rooms, telegraph rooms and the general circulation department and the newspaper job department, besides the Employes’ Library and Recreation Room. On the third floor are the composing and the linotype rooms, the stereotype room and the engraving department.


Every piece of machinery in the house is operated by its own individual electric motor. Power is supplied from two immense engines and generators combined, the engine room being one of the show places in the building, having a metal ceiling and white glazed brick on the walls, with a cement floor. The press room contains two three-deck presses, one quadruple press and one sextuple press.


The Dallas News is the offspring of The Galveston News, which was established in 1842. The two papers are under the same management. The publication offices of The News, Galveston and Dallas, 315 miles apart, are connected by special wires for interchange of news matter. The Galveston paper supplies the southern part of the State and the Louisiana border, while the other covers all North Texas and goes well into Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.


For upward of a quarter of a century the two papers have operated at their own expense, every day in the year, three special newspaper trains, one running Galveston to Houston, one Dallas to Denison and the third Dallas to Fort Worth. The Dallas News covers hundreds of thriving towns throughout its territory, many of them before breakfast time, through its unrivaled facilities of distribution. Starting in 1885, The Dallas News has been a continuous success, and has achieved an enviable reputation wherever American newspapers are known. As an advertising medium it is in a class by itself so far as papers in this section of the country are concerned. Starting at 1885 with thirty-three classified ads in its Sunday issue, it now runs each Sunday about 2,000. It is a success because it is enterprising and because it is clean, both in its news columns and in its advertising columns; because it is fair-minded and because its efforts have always been uplifting from a moral and intellectual standpoint and fair to every interest.


And then it launches into many, many testimonials from Elk visitors on how much they love the decorations. This is the first. You get the idea.

J. T. McNulty of Baltimore, grand trustee of the Elks, prominent in National circles of the Knights of Columbus and a central figure in the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, who has traveled largely and visited every State in the Union, being prominent in business and political circles said: “I have been to many conventions, my son, and have seen many decorations, but the one at The News plant, in my estimation ‘takes the cake,’ figuratively and literally speaking. It is the most unique, the most artistic and the most beautiful I have ever seen in all my attendance at conventions in this country, and I have attended many of them. I was agreeably surprised at the way Dallas has decorated, but nothing gave me such a shock of pleasurable surprise as the first sight I had of The News’ decorations.”


And this is the dark and grainy photo that ran with the article:

dmn-bldg_elks_dmn_071508_photoDMN, July 15, 1908


I kinda want an elk statue now. Also, according to the article, I now know the Morning News has its own flag. Can someone point me to more info?


Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “[The News, First Prize for Decorations, Dallas, Texas]” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photograph (postcard) can be found here.

Lengthy quote is from the article “Dallas News Building Decorated In Honor of the Elk’s Grand Lodge Which Is Now Holding Its Annual Session and Grand Jubilee in This City,” The Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1908.

More Elks-related Flashback Dallas posts:

And more photos of this beautiful Dallas News Building can be found in these posts:



Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Morning News/Fort Worth Star-Telegram Archives Update

dmn-bldg_dmn_sketch_1890sDallas News HQ, 1890s

by Paula Bosse

A couple of facts about me: I guess I’m what you’d call a “power user” of the Dallas Public Library’s NewsBank newspaper database, accessing the archives of the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram pretty much daily; I’m also fairly resistant to change (i.e. kind of lazy).

So when I encountered the redesign of the entire NewsBank database yesterday, I was less than ecstatic that I’d have to stop what I was doing and figure out where everything had been moved to. I know I’ll get used to it quickly (I already have), but, what a pain. I’m not sure why some of the changes were made, but, whatever. I actually discovered a few new things which are either brand new or were hidden in what is, let’s face it, a site with a lot of stuff going on. (There are only so many hours in the day….)

The point of this is to say that I have re-re-re-updated Flashback Dallas’ most popular post, “How To Access the Historical Dallas Morning News Archive.”

For any of you who might log on to the Dallas Public Library site and click over to the DMN archive and wonder what the heck happened, my step-by-step tips might be helpful. They might also be tedious, repetitive, and vague. But at least it’s up-to-date! Until they change it again!

Click on the link above if you need any help. (Remember: filtering is your friend!)

And, again, many thanks to the Dallas Public Library and The Dallas Morning News (and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram) (and NewsBank) for providing such a valuable resource!



Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Legendary Sports Writers of the Fort Worth Press — ca. 1948

sportswriters_blackie-sherrod_dan-jenkins_bud-shrake_etc_fort-worth-press_SMUBlackie and crew…

by Paula Bosse

The legendary sport writers of The Fort Worth Press, circa 1948: (standing, l to r) Jerre Todd, Blackie Sherrod, Dan Jenkins; (sitting) Andy Anderson and Edwin “Bud” Shrake. Missing: Gary Cartwright. 

This is what sports writers should look like!


Sources & Notes

Photo — titled “[Staff of Fort Worth Press]” — is from the Blackie Sherrod papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info can be found here.

More on Blackie Sherrod, who became the dean of Dallas sportswriters, can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Blackie Sherrod: The Most Plagiarized Man in Texas: 1919-2016.”

Read a great, lengthy piece about these guys and their time as the greatest sportswriting staff in Texas in the article “Mourning Dark: The Fort Worth Press’ Legendary Sportswriters Are a Dying Breed” by Kathy Cruz (Fort Worth Weekly, Jan. 3, 2018).


Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

George Dahl’s Downtown Public Library Is Now the Home of The Dallas Morning News


by Paula Bosse

Today is the official beginning of the next step in the history of the George Dahl-designed building at Commerce and Harwood which once housed the Dallas Public Library: after years of abandonment and deterioration, it is now the miraculously preserved and spiffed-up home of The Dallas Morning News! Read Robert Wilonsky’s valentine to the beautiful building — along with photos old and new — on the News site, here.

And while we’re at it, let’s look back to the beginnings of the building as the wonderfully modern Dallas Public Library in one of my very first Flashback Dallas posts, “George Dahl’s Sleek Downtown Library — 1955,” here.

Thank you, DMN, for saving and resuscitating this landmark Dallas building!


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The Dallas Express — A Look Inside the Offices of the City’s Most Important Black Newspaper — 1924

dallas-express-bldg_dallas-express_0607242600 Swiss, home of The Dallas Express (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Without question, The Dallas Express (1892/3-1970) was the most important and most widely-read black-owned newspaper published for Dallas’ African-American community. In addition to stories of particular interest to its Dallas and Texas readership, it also covered national and international news, and in the Jim Crow era, when black Dallasites were rarely mentioned in white-owned newspapers except in crime reports, The Express reported on the people, the businesses, the churches, and the achievements of their large community. They also wrote about politics and issues of race and discrimination. One of the paper’s slogans was “A Champion of Justice, A Messenger of Hope.”

I’ve been interested in newspapers, journalism, and the actual physical process of printing newspapers for as long as I can remember, but until a couple of years ago, I was not aware of The Dallas Express, founded in 1892 by publisher/editor W. E. King. Discovering this paper and its stories about my hometown has been eye-opening. The Dallas Express is an important — and often overlooked — source of Dallas history. I love reading through issues of The Express because unlike white-owned papers of this period, it presents a realistic and human chronicle of the everyday lives of Dallas’ black men and women, something which was almost completely ignored by The Dallas Morning News and The Dallas Times Herald.

For many years, the offices of the Express were just north of Deep Ellum, at 2600 Swiss — at the corner of Good Street, about where Brad Oldham’s Traveling Man sculpture stands today. (I have a feeling the actual location was in the middle of what is now Good-Latimer. See the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here.) Happily, the Express printed a full-page ad for itself in the June 7, 1924 edition, so we can see what the Swiss Avenue building, its offices, and its production rooms looked like. These photos were taken by noted Dallas photographer Frank Rogers. (Apologies for the muddy quality of these photos — I’d love to see the crisp originals!)


These photos show the Dallas Express offices as they looked in 1924, when the newspaper had already been in business for 32 years. The exterior of the two-story building can be seen in the photo at the top — standing next to a private residence. (Click photos to see larger images.)

Below, president and business manger (and, later, owner), C. F. Starks:


The editor’s office (John W. Rice was the editor at this time and is, presumably, the man in the foreground):


The business office:


The composition room:


The linotype department (I have written about my fascination with linotype machines here):


And the press room:


The text from the ad (this special “Pythian Edition”of the paper was printed to coincide with the 40th annual meeting of the Knights of Pythias):

“YOUR Paper,” The 5th Largest of its Kind in America, Commends The Knights of Pythias Along With All of the Other Fraternities Represented Here for Their WONDERFUL PROGRESS.

THE EXPRESS believes that much of the splendid success which has come to the Fraternities of Texas, has come because of the fact that they have told the public “well and often” about the benefits which they offer and the advantages which they bring. And too, this paper takes a great deal of PRIDE in the thought that it has helped to bring this to pass because it is the medium in Texas best fitted to tell the world about the PROGRESS of the institution of our State.

These views of our force and the equipment at our plant explain why we can guarantee “Distinctive Service” and “Meritorious Printing” to every one of our customers.

The 20,000 copies in this special issue will go to every corner of America and to some foreign countries. No other journal of the Race in the Southwest does this.

The Dallas Express Pub. Co. Solicits Your Patronage not because it is a Negro institution but because it can guarantee to you the sort of service that you need. No job too small for the greatest consideration. No order too big for us to fill.

In Dallas Since 1892
2600 Swiss Avenue


The full-page ad:

Dallas Express, June 7, 1924

Another photo of the printing room appeared in an Express ad which ran in the paper the following week:

Dallas Express, June 14, 1924

1923 Dallas directory


Sources & Notes

Photos by Frank Rogers. Original prints might be in the Frank Rogers Collection at the Dallas Public Library, but nothing showed up when I searched the DPL database. Original crisp prints would be wonderful to see!

Photos appeared in the June 7, 1924 edition of The Dallas Express. The full newspaper can be found here. Only a few years’ worth of scanned issues of The Express are available on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site — mostly 1919-1924 — they can be accessed here.

Read about The Dallas Express at the Portal to Texas History, here; the Wikipedia entry is here.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Blackie Sherrod: “The Most Plagiarized Man in Texas” — 1919-2016


by Paula Bosse

Legendary sportswriter Blackie Sherrod died yesterday at the age of 96. My father was not a follower of sports, but I remember he read Blackie Sherrod’s columns because, along with other great, larger-than-life, and exceptionally talented DFW sportswriters such as Bud Shrake, Dan Jenkins, and Gary Cartwright, Blackie was — for want of a better word — a “literary” journalist whose style transcended his subject matter. His writing appealed to everyone who enjoyed and appreciated well-written and caustically funny forays into, around, over, and under the world of sports. Sports fans — and other sportswriters — loved the guy. And so did everyone else.

In the December 1975 issue of Texas Monthly, Larry L. King (forever known as the man who made more money from the best little whorehouse in Texas than any of the girls who plied their trade there) wrote a fantastic profile of Blackie (“The Best Sportswriter in Texas”), in which he described Blackie Sherrod as being “the most plagiarized man in Texas.” Sportswriters around the state routinely stole all of Blackie’s best lines and inserted them, unattributed, into their own columns. King himself admits he was one of the worst offenders. The lengthy profile is great. Great. Read it here.


UPDATE: Also, this is a great 9-minute film produced by KERA in the 1970s in which Blackie talks about his career, past and present.


Sources & Notes

Video is from the KERA Collection, G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the permanent link on YouTube is here.

Watch a Dallas Morning News-produced video tribute to Blackie Sherrod from 2013.

The Dallas Morning News obituary — “Legendary News Sportswriter Blackie Sherrod Dies at 96” — written by Kevin Sherrington, is here.

Several of Blackie’s Sherrod’s books can be purchased online, here.

Moments after I posted yesterday’s photo of the Dallas Times Herald lobby, I read that Blackie had died. He must have walked through that lobby thousands of times. That was an odd bit of synchronicity.

See an early photo of Blackie with his famed co-workers in the post “Legendary Sports Writers of the Fort Worth Press — ca, 1948.”

Thanks, Blackie.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Times Herald Stands For Dallas As a Whole”

dallas-times-herald-lobby_UTA_squire-haskinsCool and sleek (click for very large image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the Dallas Times Herald lobby, in all its gleaming mid-century style.

And, below, its smart, crisp exterior.


RIP, DTH. (And, yes, I’m still bitter.)


Sources & Notes

Photos by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, University of Texas at Arlington; more info on the interior photo is here; more on the exterior photo is here.

The Dallas Times Herald building was located at 1101 Pacific Ave., bounded by Pacific, Griffin, and Patterson. The building was demolished in 1993 and replaced by a parking lot.

Photos larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Dallas News Special: Fast Train to Denison — 1887

dallas-news-special_belo-collection_smuThe Dallas Morning News, full speed ahead! (Belo Collection, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

In October 1885, The Galveston News decided to launch a sister publication in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News. They sent 26-year-old George Bannerman Dealey to run it. Before that first month was up, go-getter Dealey had made a special arrangement with the Texas & Pacific railroad — “at considerable expense to The News” — to extend its route and pop into Dallas to pick up papers destined for its subscribers west of the city. (The photo at the top may or may not show that very first “Special Mail train.”)

news-train-fort-worth_dmn_102885DMN, Oct. 27, 1885 (click for larger image)

A year and a half later, The News one-upped itself and made the announcement that it would operate a special train to Denison — again, “at a vast expense.” This train would transport editions of the paper in the wee small hours in order to assure that The Dallas Morning News would actually BE a morning newspaper for as many of its subscribers as possible, whether they lived “within a block of the press” or a hundred miles away (DMN, Sept. 30, 1888). News-hungry Denisonians could read their papers over breakfast at the same time their Dallas counterparts did.

news-train_dmn_052287DMN, May 22, 1887

The train was dubbed by some “The Comet” (not to be confused with the MKT’s later Katy Komet). It was a “fast train” that carried passengers as well as newspapers along the Houston and Texas Central rails.


ad-special-news-train_dmn_052287-det2DMN, May 22, 1887

Not only was this a clever way to extend its reach and expand its circulation, but, as the Handbook of Texas notes, it also “enabled the paper to meet the threat of the St. Louis newspapers, which in 1885 had a larger circulation in North Texas than did any state paper.”

A rousing account of the first Dallas-to-Denison run appeared in the pages of both The Dallas News and The Galveston News (which often shared content). A link to that full story is below, but here are a few passages from an article written the next year, touting the wondrous success of the News Special, written as only a nineteenth-century newspaperman could write it (and the writer might well have been G. B. Dealey himself).

First, one encounters a mention of Plano in a more grandiose combination of words than one might expect, as the writer describes his pleasant pre-dawn train trip along the route.

Plano was reached before the drowsy god of day had wiped his eyes at the first yawn. He rolled over in his couch by the time it reached McKinney, and he was sitting on the side of it when the train was at Melissa. And here the mocking birds, with no ruddier iris upon their breast, but moved with the spirit that makes the burnished dove mourn out his love, made the air resonant with their chatter and their songs. Into Sherman and Denison the train plunged and the trip was done.

Um, yes. Then he breaks it down in a little more specifically. Actually, a LOT more specifically.

It starts. Two minutes are consumed at the Missouri Pacific crossing five miles out, two minutes at Caruth’s, five minutes for water, two minutes at Richardson, two minutes at the Cotton Belt crossing, three minutes at Plano, two minutes at Allen, three minutes at McKinney, two minutes at Melissa, fifteen minutes at Anna for a meeting point, three minutes at Van Alstyne, two minutes at Howe, five minutes at Sherman. Total forty-eight minutes. The distance between Sherman and Dallas is sixty-four miles. The time card calls for two hours and five minutes from Dallas to that point. Forty-eight minutes is consumed in stoppages. Anyone can make the calculations, sixty-four miles in seventy-seven minutes, and see the terrific speed that this train makes, has made for over a year, and made it without a single accident, and it is a good road — an awful good road — to make it over.

And then he congratulates his employer on giving even its most distant readers “an even whack.”

Is there anything like this in the history of newspapers? True, some of them in the north run special trains on special occasions, but THE NEWS stands without a rival in this sustained work of giving its remote patrons an even whack with its people of the city. (–The Dallas Morning News, Sept. 30, 1888)

Below, a train identified as this H&TC News Special to Denison, even though it looks remarkably similar to the T&P train (in the photo above) which may or may not have been that earlier 1885 mail train to Fort Worth. Dealey is identified as the man in the light-colored suit, standing on the steps (he also resembles the man in the top photo, but now with a full beard).


The train would slow down as it neared a small-town depot, and, without stopping, a man would toss bundles of papers from the train into the waiting arms of another man on the platform, who would then divide them up and hand them off to men and boys on horseback who would race to deliver them to stores and homes before breakfast.

The Dallas Morning News ran its hot-off-the-presses newspapers up to Denison for several decades on this train until, presumably, cheaper trucks were pulled into action. But did the rather less romantic trucks, rattling up to Grayson County, inspire the mockingbirds to “[make] the air resonant with their chatter and their songs” as had the noble locomotive speeding the news through the night? I think not.


dallas-news-train_degolyer-lib_SMU_ca-1885Dallas News offices, via DeGolyer Library, SMU


Sources & Notes

Top photo, titled “The Dallas Morning News special train,” is from the Belo Records, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here. It’s a bit confusing, but this may show the inaugural run of the DMN’s special train to Fort Worth on May 22 ,1885, along the Texas & Pacific Railway. If anyone has suggestions on where this photo may have been taken, please let me know.

I came across a cropped version of the second photo in the March 1976 issue of Texas Historian, with the caption: “The Comet, Dallas News special train operated between Dallas and Denison in 1887. G. B. Dealey, then Dallas News business manager, stands on first car platform.” The version seen above is from the George A. McAfee photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University here; it is titled ”The Dallas News Special (H&T.C.).”

If you’re into trains (and even if you’re not), you might enjoy reading the following three stories from The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Special Mail Service, Observations of a Staff Correspondent Along the Route” (DMN, Oct. 27, 1885), describing the new Fort Worth route and how The News convinced (i.e. paid) the Texas & Pacific Railway to include a stop in Dallas to load up on newspapers and haul them westward, can be read here.
  • “The News in North Texas, The Special Mail Train Service” (DMN, May 23, 1887), a rousingly written ride-along narrative, is here. (I would advise more fragile readers to skip to the next paragraph when they come across mention of a cute little calf — nineteenth-century journalism is not for the overly sensitive.)
  • “News Special Train, Between Dallas and Denison Before Day, Remarkable Record, But the Following Cheerful Narrative Tells the Whole Story, Extending Over Sixteen Months, Over Fifty Miles An Hour” (DMN, Sept. 30, 1888), another genuinely exciting and poetic account of the special train and its crew, again, probably written by Dealey, can be read here. The few sentences that are illegible at the bottom of the first column: “He rang it with jerks in town, he rang it clangingly at crossings, but away out in the solitudes of the country, softly and gently he would peal it slowly, as if he had quit; softly as if his head had dropped upon his bosom. Lyerly is promoted now. Lasher is on the regular passenger train, and R. R. Roe has beautifully and [evenly?] taken his place. But Gentry still sits upon his old seat on the right hand side and watches growing into beefhood the….” 


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Hot Lead: Linotype Machines at The Dallas Morning News — 1914

dmn_linotype_belo-coll_degolyer_1914Etaoin Shrdlu not pictured (click for larger image) SMU photo

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photograph by Charles E. Arnold showing the Dallas Morning News “machine room” in 1914, in which we see several Linotype machines and their operators. I have no technological aptitude, but, for some reason, I have been fascinated by elaborate machines like these my whole life. Even though computers long ago made these “hot metal” typesetting machines obsolete, it’s still kind of thrilling to see once-revolutionary contraptions in everyday use. I’m sure it was a deafening and monotonous job, but I’d love to have had the chance to operate one of those machines just once and churn out my own slugs of hot type. I love this photo, and it has lots of interesting things to zoom in on (click for larger images).







Sources & Notes

This photo is titled “Machine room at opening of Mechanical Building,” taken by Charles Erwin Arnold in 1914; it is from the Belo Records collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. I have had to tweak the color, because my image editor tends to turn the warm tones of the original into a harsh yellow — see a scan of the original photograph here.

See additional photos of linotype machines used at The Dallas Morning News, from the Belo/DeGolyer Library collection, here.

I lived in England for a couple of years, and while there, I was given an intensive lesson on the elaborately arcane rules of cricket. I finally understood the game perfectly! …for one day. Today I immersed myself in all-things linotype, and I completely understand how the machines worked. I’ll probably forget this by tomorrow, but today … YES! And it’s absolutely fascinating. You, too, can understand how they worked:

  • The Wikipedia entry is very clearly written — check it out here.
  • An industrial film from 1960 — viewable here — is WONDERFUL. Yes, it’s over 30 minutes long, but if you love stuff like this, the time will fly by! Seriously — it’s incredibly well-done.
  • In a video on YouTube — seen here — you can watch a retired linotype operator type on a (malfunctioning) WWII-era machine. (Imagine how loud an entire room of these machines would be.)

Another look at the linotype at work can be seen in the short film “Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu,” which documents the last issue of The New York Times using Linotype machines (in 1978) — you can watch it here.

Also worth watching is the recent entertaining documentary “Linotype: The Film” — you can watch a trailer here.

Don’t know the significance of “etaoin shrdlu”? I didn’t either until about an hour ago. Wikipedia to the rescue, here.

A very entertaining article to check out in the Dallas Morning News archives: “‘etaoin shrdlu’ The Mystic Symbol” by George Gee (DMN, April 12, 1925). In it Gee wondered what this exotic and mysterious “etaoin shrdlu” phrase could mean, going so far as to interview local “experts.” He obviously knew the secret, but he never did divulge it to his readers. Very entertaining. (As are the accompanying Jack Patton illustrations.)

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


How To Access the Historical Dallas Morning News Archive

lintel-pediment_dmn-bldg_belo_smu_1930sThe old Dallas Morning News building

by Paula Bosse

(UPDATED January 11, 2023 — there are a few new tweaks to the database, but things are mostly unchanged. Over the past several months, there have been inconsistent and annoying issues using the “historical” database when I attempt to access Dallas and Fort Worth newspapers at the same time, but I hope the new update addresses those ongoing problems. This continues to be one of the most popular and most frequently accessed of all Flashback Dallas posts, and because the online DMN archive — via the Dallas Public Library website — is frequently updated/redesigned, I try to update this page after each potentially confusing update. Scroll down for step-by-step instructions on how to access the DMN archives. I have recently come to realize that these steps might be slightly different for those using Mac computers.) (I apologize for the bloat of this post — I really need to pare this down — constant updates have gotten out of hand!)


Yesterday I wrote about how I tracked down the location of a photograph with very little information to go on. I hesitated to include the step-by-step process I used to discover the location, because I was afraid that it would be a little too tediously arcane for most people. But, apparently I was wrong. I’ve been surprised by how popular the post has become. It’s gotten many more hits than most Flashback Dallas posts usually do. I’ve seen it shared all over Facebook, and it’s generated more comments and emails than I expected. It’s gratifying that people seem to be interested in the actual process of historical research. Even though I don’t necessarily consider myself a historian (I studied Art History in college, and my background is in bookselling), I’m happy to be able to share historical events and forgotten local tidbits with an audience that finds them as interesting as I do. I consider myself a writer and researcher, and sometimes all the fun is in the researching.

Since I began this blog in February of 2014, I’ve been asked several times how I access the Dallas Morning News archive. Without question, the DMN is the single most valuable resource in the study of Dallas history. Years ago, one would have had to trudge to a library and crank up a microfilm or microfiche reader. Luckily, we are in the digital age, and every edition of the DMN from 1885 to the end of 1984 has been scanned and digitized and can be viewed from the comfort of one’s own home. (Also available in this database are various Fort Worth newspapers — from The Fort Worth Register to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram — from at least 1897 to 1990, which is, of course, very handy!) You can view the paper page by page, article by article, photo by photo, comic strip by comic strip, ad by ad. It’s incredible. You’ll get lost in it for hours. Want to know what was going on 100 years ago today? Easy! Here’s the front page of the DMN from July 30, 1915:

front-page_dmn_073015DMN, July 30, 1915

So how do you do it? First off, you have to live in the city of Dallas — bad news for those of you living outside the city limits, I’m afraid. (UPDATE: THERE IS A WAY FOR NON-RESIDENTS TO ACCESS THE ARCHIVE — FOR A MONTHLY FEE. SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST.) For those of us who do live inside the city limits, not only can we access the database whenever we want, but it’s also FREE. All you need is a Dallas Public Library card (information on how to get a free card is here; the DPL’s FAQ is here). UPDATE Nov. 9, 2021: The Dallas Public Library will now offer free library cards (and with it access to their website, including the newspaper archives) to STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AT DALLAS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS, CHARTER SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND UNIVERSITIES, regardless of whether they actually live in the city of Dallas — see the DPL’s FAQ on that here, and read a news story about it on the KERA site here.

So your first step is to get a library card. Once you have a card, go to the Dallas Public Library site’s “My Account” page, here, to sign up for the free account. You’re now ready to plunge in. 



Use this to search for content published ONLY in The Dallas Morning News, between 1885 and 2016 (articles post-2016 are available on DallasNews.com). (Scroll down for instructions to access Fort Worth papers.) This BY FAR the easiest option for most people and should give you more than you need!

  • Log in to your Dallas Public Library account
  • Click on “DATABASES”
  • Scroll down, click on “MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS & JOURNALS”
  • Scroll down, click on “DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARCHIVE”
  • This gets you to a default page with 4 DMN-related sources: 1) the “historical” edition, for the years 1885-1984 (results will show scanned images/articles as they appeared in the newspaper when originally published), 2) the “modern” edition, for the years 1984-2016 (these results will be text-only — no images), 3) DMN Blogs (2006-2016), and 4) the DMN old free paper Quick (2003-2011). Enter your search terms in the search box, and wave goodbye to big chunks of time as you sit in front of your computer searching and reading and searching and reading.

I use the ADVANCED SEARCH option — click “Advanced Search” underneath the main keyword search box. A new page opens and you can filter what you’re searching for by choosing any specific fields you want to use. Click the down-arrows next to the search boxes to show a drop-down menu of options. 



  • Follow the instructions above to log in — the main page opens — click through as above to “DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARCHIVE”
  • At the very top of the page, click the down arrow next to “Change Databases” — click on “ALL DATABASES” — a new page will load
  • Under “Access World News — Historical and Current” click on “Fort Worth Star Collection with Historical Archive” (they’ve left out the “Telegram” in several places with the recent update) — this brings up archives of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (“historical” editions published 1902-1990 and “modern” editions published 1990-present day) as well as an archive of The Fort Worth Register (1897-1902) — and other stuff. Full scans are available for the editions published between 1897 and 1990; after that, it’s text-only.



This is the option I find most useful in doing daily historical research — I exclude “modern” editions, because I get too many extraneous results. If I do need more recent info, it’s easy to add modern editions, but I find excluding papers published after 1984 is best for my work. 

There are two ways to do this — this way is fastest (you won’t see results published after 1984 for the DMN or after 1990 for FWST):

  • Log in — follow all the steps listed above — the main page opens
  • Hover over “Change Databases” at the very top of the page – a dropdown menu appears — click on “All Databases” — a new window opens
  • Scroll down and click on “America’s Historical Newspapers” a new page opens — this will search the “historical” databases of the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as the Fort Worth Register (Jan. 2023 update: even though you don’t see them until you look at search results, there are now several other fully scanned “historical” newspapers which will show up from other cities and states — up to 1922, which I gather is when copyright kicks in — you can filter these out and just stick with the DMN and FWST, but they are very interesting to peruse)
  • Filter your search options by date, specific newspaper, etc., on the left side of the page or — my preference — use the “Advanced Search” option by clicking that link below the main search box and add however many rows you need to refine your search (I always add a “Date” row and leave it for the duration of my research period)

This is a way to add and exclude various newspapers (don’t confine yourself to Dallas and Fort Worth!), and it also allows you to see search results from historical and modern papers at the same time:

  • Follow the steps above to log in — the main search page opens
  • Near the top of the page (to the right of the “NewsBank” logo) click on “A-Z Source List” — a new page opens
  • In the search box next to “All Keywords” type in “Dallas” — as of this writing, a LOT of options pop up, mostly modern rather than “historical” — click the checkboxes of all sources you wish to access
  • After you’ve selected all the sources you want, click on the blue box at the bottom of the page reading “Search Within These Selections” — a new page will open — begin your searches from the newspapers you’ve selected.



There are tons of DFW metropolitan-area papers and neighborhood publications to search through on the Newsbank/DPL website — from Alvarado to Weatherford; only the pre-1984 Dallas Morning News and pre-1990 Fort Worth papers are “historical” and fully scanned) — all other papers are text-only and, generally, don’t have content available from before the early 2000s. But those papers have lots of great info. I know this is getting tedious (!), but here’s how to search those non-historical DFW papers simultaneously:

  • Log in — main page opens
  • Click on “Access World News Historical and Current” at the very top of the page — a new page opens
  • Click on the blue box on the right side of the page reading “Dallas Metropolitan Collection” — this brings up archives for (as of this writing) 90 area publications (Jan. 2023 update: I see issues of The Dallas Herald (1855-1887) are, weirdly, kind of hidden in this list — they appear to be the exact same scans available on the Portal to Texas History, where navigation is a lot easier!)


Note: At the risk of beating a dead horse, one more time: the difference between the “historical” and “modern” post-1984 Dallas Morning News archives is that the “historical” (1885-1984) search results include images of fully scanned editions of the newspaper — you see everything the way it looked in the actual newspaper: you can see entire pages as well as individual articles, photos, illustrations, comic strips, ads, classifieds, etc. You do not see any of this in the post-1984 results — the information is still useful, but it’s not as interesting and, maddeningly, not as comprehensive. I tend to use one or the other, otherwise, too many non-applicable results are returned.


It takes a good bit of time to figure out how to use the search engine quickly and effectively — it has a lot of weird little idiosyncrasies that can cause you to miss out on lots of things you’re searching for (apostrophes, initials, and numbers can be extremely problematic) — but once you start to wander around, you’ll be amazed at what an incredible treasure trove is at your fingertips. It’s always confusing after a major re-do of a site, so you just have to play around with it until you figure out how everything works. …Then have everything change again when you finally get comfortable with it.

This is such a wonderful resource — thank you, Dallas Public Library and thank you, Dallas Morning News!


Sources & Notes

Photo at top: “Lintel and pediment above doorway, Commerce St. entrance,” ca. 1930s, from the Belo Records collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; photo and details are here.

The best newspaper database for those interested in Texas history is UNT’s Portal to Texas History Texas Digital Newspaper database, here. They have tons of scanned and digitized historical Texas newspapers (excluding The Dallas News), AND it’s free and available to everyone. Below are a few of their offerings of particular interest to Dallasites:

  • The Dallas Herald — absolutely ESSENTIAL for Dallas goings-on between 1855 and 1887, here
  • The Southern Mercury, the agricultural-leaning paper published in Dallas, 1888-1907, here
  • The Dallas Express — a newspaper printed by and for the city’s African American community — ALSO essential — sadly, only the years 1919-1924 have been scanned, here
  • The Jewish Monitor — published in Fort Worth, serving the DFW (and Texas) Jewish community, 1919-1921, here
  • The Texas Jewish Post, 1950-2011, here

Check out all the Texas newspapers UNT has scanned: go to the Advanced Search page and scroll down the “Collections” menu bar to see the full list.

And, of course, there are the subscription sites Newspapers.com (which I use) and NewpaperArchive.com. I’m not familiar with the offerings of the latter, but Newspapers.com has a lot of DFW papers, all of which are fully scanned (and many of which are available for free at the Portal to Texas History). My favorite DFW newspaper on Newspapers.com is a fairly recent addition — the evening edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which is often very different from the morning edition (morning editions are the ones found on the Newsbank/Dallas Public Library database — Newspapers.com has both morning and evening FWST editions).

**If you need some research done, I might be able to help. I have access to several resources and am pretty thorough. Let me know what you’re looking for and inquire on hourly rates by clicking the “Contact” tab at the top of the page.**



7/31/15 — UPDATE: GENEALOGYBANK.COM — HOW TO ACCESS THE HISTORICAL DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARCHIVE IF YOU ARE NOT A DALLAS RESIDENT: While looking for something completely unrelated, I came across a comment by someone who said he accessed the Dallas Morning News archives — historical and modern — through a site called GenealogyBank.com. It sounds like something similar to Ancestry.com where you are given access to several different types of resources used in genealogical research. The website indicates the cost is $19.95/month or $69.95/year. There is a free 30-day trial (but if you don’t cancel it and explicitly tell them you are canceling, they will automatically charge you and you will NOT get your money back). This is the first I’ve ever heard of this site, so I have no idea whether it’s good or bad. (The parent company of GenealogyBank is NewsBank, the company that manages the DMN archive accessible through the Dallas Public Library.) I did ask on a Dallas history group tonight, and a trusted member said that he uses it all the time. He posted a few screenshots, and it’s very similar to the archive accessed through the library’s website. For those interested, you might want to try the free trial to see if it’s something you’d be interested in subscribing to. This is pretty cool, because it offers people who live outside the city limits the ability to access the DMN archives for a relatively small fee each month. I am not promoting or endorsing this site because I had never even heard of it until an hour or two ago. I’d love to hear feedback from people who try it out. The Genealogy Bank website is here. A review of the site from About.com is here. I encourage you to check other consumer sites for pros and cons. I hope this is helpful for those of you who, for some reason, choose to live away from Dallas!


Copyright © 2015-2023 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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