CUL Digital Collections

Flickr RSS Twitter

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: Graphic History of Negro Dallas (1932-1941); Texas Nursery Company, Sherman, Texas, Photo Scenes (1904-1918); The Road to Independent Living (1913-1917); Flyin' Frolic Commemorative Album (ca. 1917-1918)

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: Contained within this series is [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. Also of note are letters by Robert Gaston, a Confederate soldier; letters and a certificate from the papers of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas; documents relating to the Peters Colony, which was formed by a grant made in 1841 by the Republic of Texas to William S. Peters and his associates; and documents from the State Fair of Texas from 1886 and 1888.

Portraits: Included among the portraits are 13 cased images of the family of noted businessman and inventor John Milton Oram, who 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. Also of note is a cased photograph of Junius (June) Peak (1845-1934), Confederate veteran, Dallas city marshal 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. 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: Hundreds of printed and real photographic postcards showing various buildings and scenes throughout Dallas, including the Dallas Morning News buildings, the Jefferson Hotel, the Magnolia BuildingSt. Paul's Sanitarium, and the Exposition Building in Fair Park, which would eventually become part of Centennial Hall in 1936. This series also contains postcards of dozens of Texas cities and towns,  including the state Capitol, Fort Worth, Galveston, and more.

Albums: This series features the album "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's African American community. Other albums include “Some Views and Dope on the Flyin’ Frolic,” a military air show which took place at Love Field at the end of World War I, and the Texas Nursery Company, Sherman, Texas, Photo Scenes album, which features images of the gardens and orchards maintained by the Texas Nursery Company, ca. 1904-1918.

Location Photographs: Includes images of Dallas and Fort Worth locations, events, and people. Examples include a group photograph of the 1961 Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers, photographs of the Centennial Exposition at the State Fair of Texas, and aerial images of downtown Dallas taken in 1985, and the Commerce Street Bridge during the 1908 Flood of the Trinity River. Also included are images of day-to-day life in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, pictures of grocery stores and other local buildings such as the Dallas Courthouse, and construction photographs, including images of the construction of Central Expressway in 1948. 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.

Ephemera: Includes matchbook covers, postal covers, tickets, trade cards, and other objects. Many of the matchbook covers feature Dallas area businesses and restaurants. Other items include brochures advertising the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, tickets to various Texas State Fairs, and trade cards, including an advertisement for the Texas and Pacific Railway.


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