Contact Us
Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Negatives and digital files, 1930s-1950s, undated

Transparencies, undated

Printed materials, 1940-1951

Austin History Center

Elnora Ruddell Douglass Photography Collection

An Inventory to the Collection



Overview of the Collection

Creator: Douglass, Elnora Ruddell, 1903-1993
Title: Elnora Ruddell Douglass Photography Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1930s-1950s
Abstract: Elnora Ruddell Douglass was a photographer married to photojournalist Neal Douglass. 225 negatives, 3 transparencies and 9 printed images in magazines represent the photographic work of Elnora Douglass. These images primarily document major political figures from Texas from the 1930s through the 1950s in formal and informal settings.
Identification: AR.2009.058
Quantity: 237 items
Location: Digital Only Photographs Box, Reading Room
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,  810 Guadalupe,  PO BOX 2287,  Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Elnora Ruddell Douglass was born on 20 November 1903 in Denton, Texas to John Barb Ruddell and Mattie Elnora Bean Ruddell. Her family moved to Austin in 1909. When they first arrived in Austin, her mother worked for the Jensen Photography studio.

When the Stephen F. Austin Hotel opened in 1924, Elnora was hired as one of the first front office cashiers. The hotel was located near the offices of the Austin-American Statesman. Neal Douglass, a reporter for the paper, often dropped by the hotel to find out if any celebrities were in town. There, he met Elnora and the two married in 1929. Neal and Elnora eventually had two daughters, Connie and Carolyn Neal.

Neal left his position at the Statesman for other journalism jobs, first in San Angelo and then in Texarkana, but the Douglasses moved back to Austin in 1931. Upon their return, Neal re-applied for work at the Statesman and they re-hired him as a photographer. The paper had Neal take a crash course in photography at the University of Texas, and Elnora learned how to develop and print pictures alongside her husband. Until that point the paper did not have any staff photographers but would purchase photographs from independent studios. When Neal started as their first photojournalist, the Statesman offices did not have a darkroom. The Douglasses used the kitchen in their home at 1204 Eva Drive as a makeshift darkroom until the paper opened new offices with darkroom facilities in 1936 at 7th and Colorado streets. "Mother's kitchen was the first darkroom the Austin American-Statesman had. When I was 4 years old, mother had black curtains at the windows so they could block out the light," recalls their daughter Connie. Beyond helping Neal process film, Elnora often photographed events as well. "If they had two assignments come in, she picked up a Speed Graphic [camera] and off she went." The paper allowed the Douglasses to run their own studio alongside their photojournalism work, so in addition to photographing news events, they shot many portraits, weddings, and assignments from private clients.

In 1939 Neal and Elnora divorced, but she continued to work as a photographer. When Neal volunteered to serve in the Signal Corps in 1942, Elnora ran the photo lab at the American-Statesman until he returned in 1943. During that time Elnora covered U.S.O. activities and the local war effort. She also dedicated a lot of time to printing portraits of families and children that women would send to their husbands and loved ones serving abroad. Elnora's young daughters sometimes accompanied her on assignments, helping to carry extra film and flashbulbs. As an independent photographer she also photographed many visiting and local celebrities, such as Lyndon Baines Johnson, Governor "Ma" Ferguson, and the "midget wedding" of Myrna Merle to August Clarence Swenson, a cast member in the Lollipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz. When President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt came through town on a whistle-stop tour, Elnora was the only woman among the many male photographers. Seeing her there, the first lady said, "All of you step aside. I want that lady photographer to come up here and take my picture, because a woman doing a man's work will win the war."

In 1953 Elnora saw an advertisement for front-office cashiers at the Driskill Hotel, and an old co-worker from the Stephen F. Austin Hotel, Mr. Sauls, offered her a position. She worked there for fifteen years. She died 24 April 1993 and is buried in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.

Return to the Table of Contents


Scope and Contents

225 negatives, 3 transparencies and 9 printed images in magazines represent the photographic work of Elnora Douglass. Though Elnora worked for many years as a photographer, alongside her husband and independently, this set of negatives is what remains of her own work.

The bulk of the collection consists of 225 cellulose acetate negatives which make up Series I. These images primarily document major political figures from Texas from the 1930s through the 1950s in formal and informal settings. Subjects include governors Marion Price Daniel, Miriam A. Ferguson, Beauford H. Jester, W. Lee O'Daniel, Allan Shivers, John Lee Smith, Coke R. Stevenson and their families; judge Herman Jones; businessmen Herman E. Brown and C.M. Cabanis; and local celebrities Myrna Merle Clifton Swenson and August Clarence Swenson. Buildings in Austin, including the Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, and the Driskill Hotel, are also depicted.

The original cellulose acetate negatives are restricted from use. Digital copies are available for access. Deterioration of the original negatives, resulting in bubbling and channeling on the film and clouding of the images, is visible in many of the digital images.

Three transparencies printed on Translite paper make up series II. Series III consists of nine issues of Texas Parent-Teacher magazine with cover photographs of children at leisure by Elnora Douglass.

Return to the Table of Contents


 

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in three series:
  • I. Negatives and digital files
  • II. Transparencies
  • III. Printed materials
In series I. the original order of the physical negatives was maintained and items were numbered sequentially. Intellectually, this finding aid lists items in chronological order. Undated items are listed at the end, followed by four photographs taken by Neal Douglass.

Return to the Table of Contents


Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Digital images, transparencies, and printed materials are open to all users. Original negatives are restricted.

Restrictions on Use

None.

Return to the Table of Contents


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Persons:
Daniel, Marion Price, 1910-1988.
Douglass, Elnora Ruddell, 1903-1993.
Ferguson, Miriam Amanda, 1875-1961.
Jester, Beauford Halbert, 1893-1949.
Jones, Herman, 1911-1994.
O'Daniel, W. Lee (Wilbert Lee), 1890-1969.
Shivers, Allan, 1907-1985.
Smith, John Lee, 1894-1963.
Stevenson, Coke R. (Coke Robert), 1888-1975.
Places:
Austin (Tex.).
Document Types:
Acetate film.
Digital images.

Return to the Table of Contents


Related Material

The Photography Collection also holds the collection of Neal Douglass which contains thousands of negatives taken by Elnora's husband and may include photographs taken by Elnora but are unidentified as such. Over 3,000 images from this collection are available for access through the Portal to Texas History.

AF Biographical Files


  • Douglass, Elnora (Ruddell)
  • Douglass, Neal Augustus, Jr.

Return to the Table of Contents


Administrative Information

Custodial History

The collection was donated by family members of the creator.

Preferred Citation

Elnora Ruddell Douglass Photography Collection (AR.2009.058). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1992/012

Donation Date: 1992 March 5

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Nicole Davis, 2013.

Location of Originals

Inner Vault.

Return to the Table of Contents


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Negatives and digital files, 1930s-1950s, undated

Files are on CD located in digital collections box in the Reading Room.
1930s
File
AR.2009.058(001-028) Inaugural of Governor W. Lee O'Daniel with Senator Allan Shivers; Orange, Texas Mayor W.E. Lea; Frank W. Hurstmeyer; DeWitt [Keseard?]; Marion Price Daniel, 1939 January 17
File
AR.2009.058(160) San Jacinto Monument, circa 1930s
File
AR.2009.058(209) View of the Capitol with a street with parked Model A-type cars in the foreground, circa 1930s
1940s
File
AR.2009.058(204-205) View of the Capitol with a field in the foreground and a Moonlight Tower visible, circa 1930s-early 1940s
File
AR.2009.058(206) View of the Austin skyline with a tree in the center, circa 1930s-early 1940s
File
AR.2009.058(029-037) Ensign Bruce Henry, U.S. Navy Air Corps, speaking at the Capitol, 1942 February 11
File
AR.2009.058(105-112) Banquet for Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith, 1942 December 7
File
AR.2009.058(121-126) Mrs. Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith [Ruth Velma Elrod]; tea party at their Capitol apartment, 1943 April
File
AR.2009.058(070) Oblique view of the Capitol, 1943 May
File
AR.2009.058(119-120) Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith entertaining serviceman at his Capitol apartment, 1943 December
File
AR.2009.058(052-067) Marion Price Daniel and representatives, circa 1943-1945
File
AR.2009.058(068-069) Governor James E. Ferguson's funeral on Enfield Road, 1944 September
File
AR.2009.058(129-139) Christmas with Herman E. Brown at his Austin home across from the Pease Mansion; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company, 1944 December
File
AR.2009.058(038-041) Mrs. [Ruth Velma Elrod] Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith; tea party at their Capitol apartment, circa 1944-1947 April
File
AR.2009.058(140-163) "Midget Wedding"; Myrna Merle Clifton Swenson married August Clarence Swenson, a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz lollipop guild, 1945 June 29
File
AR.2009.058(083-104) Banquet at Stephen F. Austin Hotel honoring [? Connelly], 1945 August 19
File
AR.2009.058(186-203) Christmas with Herman E. Brown at his Austin home across from the Pease Mansion; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company, 1947 December
File
AR.2009.058(042-051) Christmas at Judge Herman Jones' home, 1947 December
File
AR.2009.058(072-078) Governor Miriam A. Ferguson with Stuart Watt, 1947
File
AR.2009.058(115) Lieutenant Governor Shivers seated at his desk, 1949
1950s
File
AR.2009.058(212-225) Driskill Hotel entrance renovation, before and after views, 1957
File
AR.2009.058(210-211) Christ with Lamb sculpture by Ross Correll, Sr. (Austin sculptor) at the Good Shepherd Epsicopal Church on the corner of Exposition Boulevard and Windsor Road, circa 1950s
Undated
File
AR.2009.058(159) C.M. Cabanis standing with a horse; owned Cabanis Furniture Store and lived in large home at Baylor and W. 12th streets, undated
File
AR.2009.058(116-118) Governor Beauford H. Jester with Jimmy Lederer, Universal Newsreel cameraman, undated
File
AR.2009.058(071) Governor Coke R. Stevenson and family at Christmas, undated
File
AR.2009.058(079-080) Governor Coke R. Stevenson and Latino men, undated
File
AR.2009.058(154-156) Governor Marion Price Daniel speaking, undated
File
AR.2009.058(161-185) Herman E. Brown family portraits and candids, includes Christmas scenes; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company, undated
File
AR.2009.058(127) A lady on platform speaking and guarded by men on horseback, undated
File
AR.2009.058(128) A man standing by a plane, undated
File
AR.2009.058(113) View of the Capitol with trees in the foreground, undated
File
AR.2009.058(114) View of the Governor's Mansion, undated
File
AR.2009.058(207-208) Unidentified buildings, undated
File
AR.2009.058(081-082) Aerial views of University of Texas Tower and Stadium; by Neal Douglass, undated
File
AR.2009.058(157) View of the Travis County Courthouse; by Neal Douglass, undated
File
AR.2009.058(158) View of an unidentified building; by Neal Douglass, undated

Return to the Table of Contents




 

Transparencies, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Three transparent positives printed on Translite paper, including Governor's Mansion (same image as AR.2009.058(114)), Capitol (same image as AR.2009.058(113)), and unidentified man at desk, undated

Return to the Table of Contents




 

Printed materials, 1940-1951

Box Folder
1 2 Nine issues of Texas Parent-Teacher featuring cover photos by Elnora Douglass, 1940-1951

Return to the Table of Contents