A Guide to the August Watkins Harris Papers, 1927-1976
August Watkins “Watt” Harris was a native of Texas, born in 1893 in Austin to Watkins W. Harris and Louise Swartz Harris. He studied architecture at the University of Texas and worked at a local firm before volunteering for military service upon the entry of the United States into World War I. Harris was one of over 3,000 men who entered the First Officers’ Training Camp at Camp Funston (later renamed Camp Stanley) near Leon Springs, Texas, in 1917 May. A month later he was selected for the Coast Artillery Corps, completing his training at Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1917 August. He served in France near the end of the war and was discharged in 1919.
Returning to Austin, Harris entered into an architectural practice in partnership with Bertram Giesecke. The firm was involved in the design of numerous notable structures in Texas, including the Norwood building in Austin and the Merchant and Manufactures building in Houston, now part of the University of Houston.
Harris was recalled to active military duty in World War II, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After the war, Harris practiced on his own, becoming particularly involved in the restoration of historic buildings in Austin, including the Texas General Land Office building and the French Legation. He produced two pamphlets on historic Austin buildings and published writings on the subject in journals.
Harris maintained a long-term involvement in the First Officers' Training Camp Association, made up of veterans of the Leon Springs program. The association held its first reunion in 1931, fourteen years after about 1,700 men were commissioned in the U.S. Army following a grueling three-month training session. Harris joined the group soon after and for almost thirty years served as “Ferst Sargint” of the Coast Artillery Corps component of the association, actively recruiting members, organizing events, and corresponding with other ex-officers. A regular attendee at the reunions until a few years before his death, Harris regarded his involvement as one of the most satisfying associations of his life.
Harris and his wife Loula Macgill Ujffy (1900-1993) were the parents of four children. He died in Austin in 1968 January.
Correspondence, lists, printed material, financial records, photographs, and artifacts gathered and created over thirty years of involvement in the First Officers’ Training Camp Association of Texas are part of the August Watkins Harris papers.
As a leader of the organization, particularly that portion consisting of Coast Artillery Corps veterans, Harris corresponded regularly with other members, encouraging their participation in annual reunions and helping to organize events. His correspondence with other organizers and members is particularly extensive in the 1950s and early 1960s and includes both letters received and copies of letters sent, in which he reports on his activities and records the difficulties, frustrations, and rewards associated with the effort. Separated from the more general correspondence are self-addressed postcards sent out by Harris on which members indicated their intent to attend reunions; these often include messages of varying length.
The process of compiling a list of CAC veterans of the camp was ongoing, and original rosters, mailing lists, some copies of service records, and a series of index cards were created over the years. Some lists of the other units from the camp are also part of the papers.
Printed material associated with the association is extensive, consisting of notices of reunions, programs, items produced as memorials to deceased members, and such items as souvenirs, menus, and registration material. Certificates for CAC veterans, designed and produced by Harris, are included, as are membership directories, a miscellaneous assortment of periodicals produced by the association, and newspaper clippings about the association and its members. Some clippings were added to the papers after Harris’ death.
Financial records consist of a small amount of miscellaneous bills, receipts and notes. Some general notes include a draft of a report to members by Harris and other miscellaneous items. Photographs include prints of negatives showing reunion events and people. Artifacts include several name tags from reunions, rubber stamps and wood blocks designed and created by Harris, souvenirs and a sign used at a reunion.
Finally, the papers include a small number of personal and professional items not associated with the First Officers’ Training Camp Association.
No restrictions. The collection is open for research.
Please be advised that the library does not hold the copyright to most of the material in its archival collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure those rights when needed. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.
[Identification of item], August Watkins Harris Papers, 1927-1976, Col 12313, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Gift of Eleanor E. Harris, 2004 February, 2004 December, and 2006 July.
Processed by Debra Bryant and Warren Stricker, 2006 October.
Finding aid edited and encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2010 December.
Detailed Description of the Collection