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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Photographs, 1930s-1950s, undated

Printed materials, 1940-1951

Austin History Center

Elnora Ruddell Douglass Photographs

An Inventory to the Collection



Overview of the Collection

Creator: Douglass, Elnora Ruddell, 1903-1993
Title: Elnora Ruddell Douglass Photographs
Dates: 1930s-1950s
Abstract: Elnora Ruddell Douglass was a photographer active in Austin, Texas in the 1930s-1950s and married to photojournalist Neal Douglass. 236 negatives, 3 transparencies and 24 prints represent the photographic work of Elnora Douglass. These images primarily document Texas Governors, some businessmen, local celebrities Clarence and Myrna Swenson, the Annette Duval School of Dancing and assorted locations in Austin.
Identification: AR.2009.058
Quantity: .4 linear feet (3 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks; Outer Vault; Inner Vault
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 Clifton 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.

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Scope and Contents

236 negatives, 3 transparencies, 24 prints 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 small archive is what remains of her own work.

The bulk of the collection consists of 235 4x5" black-and-white (cellulose acetate) negatives. In addition there are 1 nitrate negative, 3 images printed on Translite paper, and 24 black-and-white prints. The photographs 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. Also pictured are judge Herman Jones; businessmen Herman E. Brown and C.M. Cabanis; local celebrity Clarence Swenson in his wedding to Myrna Merle Clifton as well as images of their family. Dancers at the Annette Duval School of Dancing are depicted, including children of Myrna and Clarence Swenson. Various buildings in Austin, including the Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, and the Driskill Hotel, are also depicted. A few negatives were apparently taken by Elnora's husband Neal. One image depicts him with photographer Elton Payne. Identifications and descriptions of the photographs were provided by Connie Vanzura, Douglass' daughter.

At the end of the collection are ten issues of Texas Parent-Teacher magazine with cover photographs of children at leisure by Elnora Douglass.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series:
  • I. Photographs
  • II. Printed materials
In series I. the original order of the physical negatives was maintained and items were numbered sequentially. Intellectually, items are grouped by subject and listed chronologically.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Most of the original cellulose acetate negatives are restricted from access due to deteriorating condition. Digital copies are available for access instead. 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. Negatives in good condition that have not been digitized are available for use.

Restrictions on Use

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

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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
Douglass, Neal, 1900-1983
Duval, Annette
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
Swenson, Clarence
Swenson, Myrna Merle Clifton
Subjects (Organizations)
Annette Duval School of Dancing
Subjects
Governors--Texas
Photojournalism--Texas--Austin
Photography--Texas--Austin
Photographers--Texas--Austin
Places:
Austin (Tex.)--Pictorial works
Document Types:
Black-and-white negatives
Black-and-white photographs
Cellulose nitrate negatives
Digital images
Publications
Transparencies
Titles
Texas Parent-Teacher

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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.

AF Subject Files


  • Dance - Annette Duval School of Dancing D0200(2)

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

The collection was donated by family members of the creator.

Preferred Citation

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

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1992/012

Donation Date: March 5, 1992; September 29, 2007

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Nicole Davis, 2013. Updates and additions, 2017.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Photographs, 1930s-1950s, undated

Folder 1/1 contains a CD with digital scans of restricted negatives along with printouts of the images. Original negatives are in boxes 2-3 in the Outer Vault.
Assorted People
Box Folder
1 2 Annette Duval School of Dance - prints (#226-230), undated
3 Annette Duval School of Dance, Swenson children - prints (#231-237), undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Neg. Drawer Annette Duval School of Dance, Swenson children - negatives (#238-241), undated
Box Folder
1 4 Clarence Swenson and family - prints (#242-244), undated
5 Clarence Swenson and Myrna Merle Clifton Wedding - prints (#246-257), June 29, 1945
1 Clarence Swenson and Myrna Merle Clifton Wedding - digital access copies (#140-153), June 29, 1945
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Neg. Drawer Clarence Swenson and Myrna Merle Clifton Wedding - negatives (#253-257), June 29, 1945
Box Folder
1 1 Unidentified man standing by a plane - digital access copy (#128), undated
1 Unidentified woman on platform speaking and guarded by men on horseback - digital access copy (#127), undated
Buildings
Box Folder
1 1 San Jacinto Monument - digital access copy (#160), circa 1930s
1 View of the Capitol with a street with parked Model A-type cars in the foreground - digital access copy (#209), circa 1930s
1 View of the Capitol with a field in the foreground and a Moonlight Tower visible - digital access copies (#204-205), circa 1930s-early 1940s
1 View of the Austin skyline with a tree in the center - digital access copy (#206), circa 1930s-early 1940s
1 Oblique view of the Capitol - digital access copy (#070), May 1943
1 Driskill Hotel entrance renovation, before and after views - digital access copies (#212-225), 1957
1 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 - digital access copies (#210-211), circa 1950s
1 View of the Capitol with trees in the foreground - digital access copy (#113), undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Neg. Drawer View of the Capitol with trees in the foreground - transparency on Translite paper (copy of #113), undated
Box Folder
1 1 View of the Governor's Mansion - digital access copy (#114), undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Neg. Drawer View of the Governor's Mansion - transparency on Translite paper (copy of #114), undated
Box Folder
1 1 Unidentified buildings - digital access copies (#207-208), undated
Businessmen
Box Folder
1 1 Christmas with Herman E. Brown at his Austin home across from the Pease Mansion; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company - digital access copies (#129-139), December 1944
1 Christmas with Herman E. Brown at his Austin home across from the Pease Mansion; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company - digital access copies (#186-203), December 1947
1 C.M. Cabanis standing with a horse; owned Cabanis Furniture Store and lived in large home at Baylor and W. 12th streets - digital access copy (#159), undated
1 Herman E. Brown family portraits and candids, includes Christmas scenes; Texas businessman, owner of Brown & Root International Construction Company - digital access copies (#161-185), undated
Neal Douglass
Box Folder
1 1 Aerial views of University of Texas Tower and Stadium; by Neal Douglass - digital access copies (#081-082), undated
1 View of the Travis County Courthouse; by Neal Douglass - digital access copy (#157), undated
1 View of an unidentified building; by Neal Douglass - digital access copy (#158), undated
6 Elton Payne and Neal Douglass; by Elnora Douglass - print (#258), undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Inner Vault Nitrate Box Elton Payne and Neal Douglass; by Elnora Douglass - nitrate negative (#259), undated
Politicians
Box Folder
1 1 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 - digital access copies (#001-028), January 17, 1939
1 Ensign Bruce Henry, U.S. Navy Air Corps, speaking at the Capitol - digital access copies (#029-037), February 11, 1942
1 Banquet for Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith - digital access copies (#105-112), December 7, 1942
1 Mrs. Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith [Ruth Velma Elrod]; tea party at their Capitol apartment - digital access copies (#121-126), April 1943
1 Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith entertaining serviceman at his Capitol apartment - digital access copies (#119-120), December 1943
1 Marion Price Daniel and representatives - digital access copies (#052-067), circa 1943-1945
1 Governor James E. Ferguson's funeral on Enfield Road - digital access copies (#068-069), September 1944
1 Mrs. [Ruth Velma Elrod] Lieutenant Governor John Lee Smith; tea party at their Capitol apartment - digital access copies (#038-041), April, circa 1944-1947
1 Banquet at Stephen F. Austin Hotel honoring [? Connelly] - digital access copies (#083-104), August 19, 1945
1 Governor Miriam A. Ferguson with Stuart Watt - digital access copies (#072-078), 1947
1 Christmas at Judge Herman Jones' home - digital access copies (#042-051), December 1947
1 Lieutenant Governor Shivers seated at his desk - digital access copy (#115), 1949
1 Governor Beauford H. Jester with Jimmy Lederer, Universal Newsreel cameraman - digital access copies (#116-118), undated
1 Governor Coke R. Stevenson and family at Christmas - digital access copy (#071), undated
1 Governor Coke R. Stevenson and Latino men - digital access copies (#079-080), undated
1 Governor Marion Price Daniel speaking - digital access copies (#154-156), undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Neg. Drawer Allan Shivers at desk - transparency on Translite paper (#258), undated
Location Box
OV Archives Shelf 2 Restricted negatives (#001-104)
3 Restriced negatives (#105-225)

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Printed materials, 1940-1951

Box Folder
1 7 Ten issues of Texas Parent-Teacher featuring cover photos by Elnora Douglass, 1940-1951

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