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Dallas History

Tales from the Dallas History Archives: Family Moments from Past Decades

As more families gather after getting vaccinated, take a look back at historic Dallas moments with the families of Marion Butts, Clyde Barrow, Billy Earl Dade, and more.
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Hayes Collection, Dallas Public Library. 
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Tales from the Dallas History Archives: Family Moments from Past Decades

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As many people reunite with family this summer, I’ve been thinking about how important parents are. Every interaction between parent and child influences how those children grow up. You can argue that history is shaped with each parent-child interaction.

The photographs in the gallery linked above are historical images of Dallas history that depict parents and children. They are part the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Collection and many are available through the library’s online catalog. They include images of everyday life at swimming pools, family gatherings, running errands, and more. They include photos of infamous outlaws Clyde Barrow and Ray Hamilton with their mothers.

Travel back to 1951 to see a mother and son waiting to swim at a local pool. There is the family of Dallas resident Kenneth Smith’s mother, taken in the 1940s at the home of Hallie Atkins. Another image depicts a West Dallas mother and her son in 1993 showing battery chips and slag on their family property. A few members of this family were impacted by the high lead levels in the air caused by lead contamination in the area.

A June 1951 image shows the proud grown children of Mrs. Cacy Ann Cole as they adjust their mother’s graduation cap. In 1952, Charles Hayes is shown being comforted by his mother, Faye Wallace, at Parkland Hospital after suffering a broken thumb in an accident where he slid between the wheels of a moving locomotive tender and out the other side. The same year, Sandra Anderson was depicted in a Parkland Hospital bed after jumping from a second story burning garage apartment in her mother’s arms and taken to safety. A circa 1962 photograph depicts Mrs. Callie Butts, mother of Marion Butts Sr.

Her son was an African American commercial photographer and editor of the Dallas Express newspaper, who recorded events and community life from the last half of the twentieth century in Dallas. His work chronicled civil rights, segregation, religious and social life, education, entertainers, and more.

Many images of fathers can also be found in the library’s historic photograph collections, such as a circa 1951 image of Cpl. James Burns, Sr. saying goodbye to his young children. A circa 1965 image of Ledbetter/Eagle Ford neighborhood resident Pedro Orozco shows the Cemento Grande employee with his children. An undated Father’s Day photo shows a little girl’s gift for “Daddy.”

In 1952, the fathers of Rosemont Elementary students Willard Gragg and Joe Roberts are shown helping students practice for a spelling bee. In the same year, the Hayes Collection has a photograph of a girl helping her father renew his auto-tag and receive a new license plate. An undated image shows Volk’s Department Store owner Harold Volk and son Leonard Volk looking at various women’s footwear, presumably for their store. There are also multiple images from the Marion Butts Collection of fathers walking their daughter down the wedding aisle, which includes Billy Earl Dade, an educator and activist who is now the namesake of a Dallas middle school.

These images and more can be seen in the gallery below.


Brandon Murray, a librarian and archivist in the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Division, writes about North Texas history for D Magazine.

The Dallas Public Library has many other images related to life in Dallas in years past. You can learn more by searching online in the catalog. Go to “Advanced” and use the “Limit By” option to select “Digital Archive” then type in your topic. Contact the Dallas History and Archives Division at Dallas Public Library at (214) 670-1435 or email [email protected] with questions about the many fascinating photographic resources available.

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