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George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection

DeGolyer Library

About the Collection

Greetings from Dallas, Texas, 1909

The George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection ("Cook Collection") is an important addition to SMU's DeGolyer Library and is a wonderful resource for research in Dallas and Texas history. A native Dallasite, George W. Cook (1949-2012) was a life-long collector with a focus on Dallas and Texas primary sources. He had a special interest in photographs, postcards, advertising souvenirs, trade cards, badges, family collections, documents, art, postal history, and three-dimensional objects such as signs, regional porcelain and glass, and architectural ornaments. He was also fascinated by the State Fair of Texas, the 1936 Texas Centennial, and the history of aviation.

The strength of Cook’s collection lies in its visual images (over 2,200 photographs and 12,000 postcards), but there are also significant manuscripts, diaries, albums, bank notes, ephemera, books, pamphlets, broadsides, and objects related to the city of Dallas and Texas. Chronologically, the collection ranges from a promissory note signed by Davy Crockett in 1829 to photographs of carhops at Sivil’s drive-in in mid-century Dallas. There are approximately 20,000 items altogether – a rich collection with a wide range of materials related to Dallas and Texas history!

DeGolyer Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.  

Online Holdings in the Cook Collection

A growing number of items from the Cook Collection are being made available:

Series 2: Manuscripts and Documents

Series 3: PhotographsCommerce St. Bridge, Trinity River, Dallas, Tex., April 20, 1908

1. Portraits: Cased images, Oram Family; Cased images, general; CDVs and cabinet cards; Miscellaneous portrait formats

2. Stereographs

3. Postcards: Printed Postcards, Dallas; Real Photographic Postcards, Dallas; Printed Postcards, Texas; Real Photographic Postcards, Texas; Printed Postcards, Texas Courthouses; Real Photographic Postcards, Texas Courthouses

4. Albums

5. Locations: Dallas city views; Texas general

6. Photographica

7. Oversize

8. Negatives: Homer Studio negatives. Crozier Technical High School; Other negatives

Series 4: Ephemera

Brochures, Dallas; Matchbook covers, Dallas; Postal covers, commemoratives, special issues, Texas; Tickets, Dallas; Trade cards, Dallas; Miscellaneous, Dallas; Miscellaneous, Texas

Highlights in the Digital Collection

Here are a few of the highlights that are already available online.

John Milton Oram, ca. 1867Manuscripts and Documents, including including [First-hand Account of the Preparation of Bonnie Parker's Body], a handwritten letter written on Adolphus Hotel stationery by one of the morticians that prepared Bonnie Parker's body in Dallas, Texas. The document describes in detail the condition of her body and repairs to the body. The author describes his/her version of the activities surrounding Parker's funeral versus newspaper story accounts.

Portraits: Included in the portraits are 13 cased images of the family of noted businessman and inventor John Milton Oram. During his lifetime, Mr. Oram developed one of the largest jewelry businesses of its time in Dallas, Texas, and due to his influence and inventive skills, he constructed and installed the first telephone in Dallas, making it one of the first cities in the country where a telephone was operated as a useful method of communication. Cased photographs include those of John Thompson Oram and Elizabeth Trimble Dyer Oram, John M. Oram's father and mother, and various siblings and family members. Also of note is a cased photograph of Junius (June) Peak (1845-1934), Confederate veteran, Dallas city marshall and Texas Ranger.

Stereographs: The stereoviews primarily show street life in Dallas ca. 1870s-1919, particularly along Main Street and Elm Street. Also depicted are the Exposition Building in Fair Park, ca. 1906; the Fourth Dallas Courthouse, ca. 1871-1875; and the Second Annual Folly's Reign Parade, 1877, as well as several businesses vital to the initial growth of Dallas, including grain and flour mills, lumberyards, stationers, grocers, and druggists. Early methods of transportation in Dallas are portrayed, including electric streetcars that appeared in the city in 1902, and one of the earliest photographs of the Texas & Pacific depot, ca. 1873-1873 at Lamar and Pacific Avenue. In addition to the Dallas stereoviews, several cards show scenes of Galveston after the 1900 Hurricane, as well as President McKinley arriving by train at Del Rio, Texas, ca. 1901.

Dallas, Texas, ca. 1902-1919Postcards: Dozens of printed and real photographic postcards showing various buildings and scenes throughout Dallas, including the Dallas Morning News buildings, the Jefferson Hotel, the Magnolia Building, St. Paul's Sanitarium, and the Exposition Building in Fair Park, which would eventually become part of Centennial Hall in 1936. Also online are five panoramic, real photographic postcards, including two of the Dallas Skyline, 1914, showing the same scene taken both during the day and at night; the busy Public Square in Commerce, Texas, 1908; cutting alfalfa in Wharton, Texas, ca. 1904-1907; and two depicting the Galveston beach and the Beach Boulevard, 1917-1919. The Crystal Palace Cafe and Bathhouse, Galvez Hotel, Murdoch's Bathhouse, and the Seawall are among the landmarks seen in the postcards.

Albums: "Graphic History of Negro Dallas" compiled by the Priscilla Art Club, 1932-1941. This photograph album depicts people, homes, businesses, churches, schools, and activities relating to Dallas' African American community.

Location Photographs: Included in the location photographs of Dallas are the Old Union Depot in East Dallas, ca. 1905; the old Dallas Federal Building and Post Office located on Ervay Street, 1906; and a construction site at the intersection of North Ervay and Elm Street, 1902. There are also photographs of two agents of the Anti-Automobile Theft Association, which relocated to Dallas in 1920, and the the Commerce Street Bridge during the 1908 Flood of the Trinity River. Another group of 4 large panoramic photographs shows the early stages of construction of the Dallas-Oak Cliff Viaduct from the Dallas side of the bridge in 1911.


Texas State Library and Archives CommissionInstitute of Museum and Library Services

In FY2016 digitization of 1,317 photographs, documents, and ephemera from the collection was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a grant to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) as part of TSLAC’s TexTreasures program. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

Digital Collections Guidelines and Procedures

Items in Central University Library Digital Collections are digitized following the SMU Central University Libraries Digitization Guidelines and Procedures. Digital collections are created under the guidelines of the CUL Digital Collections: Filenaming, Workflow, and Metadata Guidelines, or through specialized metadata profiles tailored for the collection.


Copyright usage terms vary throughout the collection. Each item contains information about usage terms. If SMU does not have the right to publish the item on the Internet, only the item's metadata will be available and the digitized object will be available on a restricted access basis. Such items may only be viewed on campus. When items are available for use, please cite DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. A high-quality version of these files may be obtained for a fee by contacting

Contact Info

For more information about the collection, please contact