Hart Graphics, Inc. Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Steck Company began as the Christian publishing house Firm Foundations. Firm Foundations started in the late 19th century in Austin and published weekly bulletins and songbooks for the Church of Christ. In 1912, E. L. Steck took over the printing side of the business from his father and founded the E. L. Steck Company, which continued to publish works for Firm Foundations well into the 1920s. In 1921 they dropped the "E. L.," changing the name to the Steck Company, and continued to prosper as a general line commercial printing company selling printing, lithographing and stationery to cities, schools, counties, banks and commercial accounts in Texas.
In 1928 the Steck Company facilities moved to 9th and Lavaca streets, where it prospered for many years. In 1937, it produced the first four-color process on newsprint in the U.S.
The company has gone through many names in its 89-year history. In 1962, Vaughn Building Corporation in Dallas acquired 100 percent of the shares of the Steck Company. In April 1965, the Publications Division of the Steck Company was turned into a separate corporate entity entitled the Steck-Vaughn Company, which was acquired by Intext Educational Publishers in 1968.
In August 1965, the Steck Company acquired Warlick Press of Dallas and changed its name to Steck-Warlick. Warlick, founded in 1894, was a financial printing house that had recently acquired web press printing facilities.
In 1971, Steck-Warlick spun out its Data Processing Division to create Steck Data Corporation, which engaged in performing data processing services for municipal tax accounting, voter registration, hospital patient accounting, mailing lists and other specialty fields. Both Steck-Warlick and Steck Data Corporation were still owned by Vaughn Building Corporation.
In April 1972, Steck-Warlick spun off its publishing activities to create Shoal Creek Publishers, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the company. The new corporation dealt in a broad line of publishing activities.
In December 1973, William Hart, then president of Steck-Warlick, acquired the Austin division of the company, which he renamed Hart Graphics, Inc. During the 1970s and 1980s, Hart Graphics was the largest commercial printer headquartered in Texas. Its products and services ranged from printing TV Guide, catalogs, publications, coupons, inserts and software manuals to financial, insurance, and government forms, including election ballots and supplies sold to every county in Texas. It also had additional sites in Houston, Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Irvine, California.
Hart retired as company chairman in 1997. After losing its contract with TV Guide and due to the high cost of modernizing its printing equipment, the company closed its doors in March 2001.
The Hart Graphics, Inc. Records collection contains material relating to the development and progress of the company and covers the period 1915-2003. It includes records from the E.L Steck Company, the Steck Company, Steck-Warlick, Warlick Press, Steck Data Corporation, Shoal Creek Publishers, and Hart Graphics. The records also include works published or printed by the company such as books, bonds and programs. Many of these pertain to various historical events and people in Texas, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas and the dedication of the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs and Presidential Library. There are some official company records, namely the minute books and financial records, but most of the collection is comprised of unofficial records related to the company, such as photographs of the staff and plants, news clippings, employee handbooks, and examples of products the company printed.
The first series of the collection, History (1961, 2003, undated), consists of an oral history cassette and a document created by employees to chronicle the history of the company. The Board of Directors series (1965-1974) contains meeting minutes that cover financial, employee and sales information, as well as other operational information about the company during its transition from Steck and Warlick to Steck-Warlick. The Office of the President series (1926-1999) includes correspondence sent and received by various company presidents. The Office of the Vice President for Special Projects series (1940-1943, 1973) contains operational information recorded in firm bulletins collected by W.L. Thompson, who held that office, as well as Thompson's report on the gravure industry. The Personnel series (1948, 1968-1981, undated) documents relationship between the company and its employees through photographs of employees, employee handbooks, and employee union contracts, as well as ephemera for office social events composing the series. The Financial Information series (1915-1940, 1962-1968, 1991-1995) provides documentation of the company's finances, including a ledger and bound financial books documenting the financial record keeping of the company. The Publicity series (1919-1930, 1946, 1968-1994, undated) consists of mainly news clippings on the growth and change within the company, catalogs for Steck products and services, and an advertising catalog, as well as other advertising created by the company. The Manufacturing Plant series (1988, 1999-2000, undated) includes a notebook of printing solutions and a manufacturing activity list that shows the development of the company's printing practice. Also included are photographs of the plant and a video tour. The Printed Material series (1920-1936, 1947-1950, 1963-1977, 1996, undated) includes material printed by the company. Highlights of the series include materials printed for the "Texas Welcome" scheduled in Austin for President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 - the day he was shot - as well as the program for the dedication of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Presidential Library at the University of Texas at Austin.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all Users
Restrictions on Use
Collection was donated to the Austin History Center by Mr. William Hart, one of the company's last presidents in two parts: the ledger and oral history in 2003, and the bulk of the collection in 2007.
Hart Graphics, Inc. Records (AR 2003.036). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1974/129
Donation Date: 11/24/2003, 7/10/2007
Initial Inventory and Preliminary Processing By/Date: Sue Soy/2003
Final Processing and Finding Aid By/Date: Carin Yavorcik, Sarah Sokolow, and Hagan Barber/November 2010
Detailed Description of the Collection