University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections

Alvin Romansky Papers

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Romansky, Alvin
Title: Alvin Romansky Papers
Dates: 1907-1994
Abstract: Mr. Romansky was a native Houstonian who practiced law. This set of papers documents his philanthropy and tremendous civic contribution to the contemporary art scene in Houston. Included also, is evidence of the social and civic contributions of his Uncle Thomas Flaxman.
Identification: 1968-001
Quantity: 4 boxes, 1 oversize folder; 3.1 linear feet
Repository: Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Biographical Note

Alvin Sylvan Romansky was born in Houston, Texas on March 15, 1907, the only child of Joseph L. Romansky and Kate Flaxman. Following his childhood in Houston, he attended the Wharton School of Commerce and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Houston Law School, where he received an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) degree in 1929.

Romansky remained in Houston to practice law. He was a member of the Texas State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Commercial Law League of America.

In 1948, Romansky and five others chartered the Contemporary Arts Association, a non-profit organization founded to present exhibits of contemporary art to supplement the more traditional art shown at the Museum of Fine Arts. In 1949, the Association became the Contemporary Arts Museum, with its own building. Romansky served as Vice President of the Contemporary Arts Association/Museum from 1947-1952.

An art patron and collector, Romansky favored French graphics, contemporary French art, and Ashanti objects. He arranged the Rufino Tamayo exhibit and the Contemporary in Cotton exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Museum, and Ashanti Goldwrights exhibit at the University of Texas, as well as many others. He was also active in the Lithography Department of the Glassell School of Art. He donated a collection of graphics to the University of Texas, and an Alvin Romansky Print Room to the Museum of Fine Arts. Romansky was appointed a Life Trustee by the Museum of Fine Arts.

In addition, Romansky served as "Lieutenant Colonel" on the staff of Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson between 1933 and 1935, representing the State of Texas at official functions. He was co-founder of the Harris County Heritage Society, and drafted its original charter. He also served as a member of the Chancellor's Council of the University of Texas at Austin. Alvin Romansky was married to his wife Ethel for nineteen years. He died on March 14, 1994.

Sources: "Contemporary Arts Museum."Handbook of Texas Online. (3 May 2001).

Who's Who in American Art. 11th edition. New York: R.R. Bowker Co., 1973.

1994. Deaths. Houston Chronicle. 15 March (B).

Scope and Contents

The Alvin Romansky Papers include photographs, correspondence, documents, printed materials, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia related to the life and civic pursuits of Alvin Romansky, his father Joseph Romansky, and his uncle Thomas Flaxman. The bulk of the material (principally that related to Alvin Romansky) dates from the 1950s, but a significant amount of material related to Thomas Flaxman dates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The first two boxes in the collection contain loose papers and photographs. Material related to Alvin Romansky comes first in these boxes, followed by material related to Thomas Flaxman, and then material related to Joseph Romansky. The third box holds a silver loving cup presented to Thomas Flaxman by the Directors of No-tsu-oh Association. The fourth box holds portions of two scrapbooks.

Two publications were removed from this collection and cataloged:

  • The Houston clubber. Houston, Tex.: Houston Club, 1958. Spec Coll HS2725.H68 H684
  • The new Houston Club. Houston, Tex.: The Club, [1955]. Spec Coll Ovs HS2725.H68 H68 1955

Special Collections holds a large number of materials that were donated to the department by Alvin Romansky, including rare books, and art books and catalogues. In addition, Special Collections also holds a large collection of fine art prints which were donated by Alvin Romansky. A large sub-collection of these prints are cartoons from the French Third Empire and the Franco-Prussian War.

The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, also holds some microfilmed material on Alvin Romansky. Included is a transcript of a recorded interview with Romansky, conducted by the Archives of American Art. For more information, see their web site:



Photocopying permission will be based on preservation and copyright issues and will be decided on a case-by-case basis by Special Collections staff.

Index Terms

Terms are either Library of Congress Subject Headings or taken from local sources.
Subjects (Persons)
Romansky, Alvin
Romansky, Joseph
Flaxman, Thomas
Subjects (Organizations)
Contemporary Arts Association
Contemporary Arts Museum
Houston Country Club

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alvin Romansky Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries


Donated by Mr. Romansky in 1968 and 1969

Processed by

Monika Zarzycka and Julie Grob, 2000-2001

Detailed Description

box folder
1 1-9 Correspondence
This series includes correspondence from various people to Alvin Romansky, arranged alphabetically by sender. Notable correspondents include Oveta Culp Hobby, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Coke R. Stevenson.
Box Folder
1 1 Alvin Romansky, Note from Tom Connally, Oct. 14, 1946
2 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Oveta Culp Hobby, March 23, 1965
3 Alvin Romansky, Telegram from Josef Israels, Aug. 18, 1932
4 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson, November 14, 1960
5 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Richard F. Roper, January 26, 1934
6 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Alfred E. Smith, May 5, 1932
7 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Coke R. Stevenson, 1939-1941
8 Alvin Romansky, Letter from Albert Thomas, March 23, 1965
9 Alvin Romansky, Printed European Christmas cards, 1960-1980

1, OVS Alvin Romansky Memorabilia
This series is comprised of photographs, documents, and clippings related to Alvin Romansky, which are arranged chronologically, with the exception of two unidentified photographs (Folders 14 and 15) that have been placed at the end. Included are a baby picture of Alvin Romansky, a printed program from a Houston memorial service for Warren G. Harding, and the charter of the Harris County Heritage Society. A 1924 diploma from the Prosso Preparatory School is in an oversized folder.
Box Folder
1 10 Alvin Romansky, [ca. 1907]
11 Alvin Romansky, August 10, 1923
OVS Alvin Romansky, 1924
Box Folder
1 12 Alvin Romansky, 1926-27
13 Alvin Romansky, 1934
14 Alvin Romansky, May 1, 1947
15 Alvin Romansky, June 9, 1954
16 Alvin Romansky, [ca. 1950]
17 Alvin Romansky, [ca. 1950]
18 Alvin Romansky, [ca. 1960s]
19 Alvin Romansky, undated
20 Alvin Romansky, [19th century]
21 Alvin Romansky, [ca. 1940]

box folder
1 22-46 European Art Trip
This series consists of black and white snapshots taken during a trip to France and Italy. Most of the photographs record visits to the printing workshops of Fernand Mourlot, Georges Visat, and Maeght. Also included are an image of Pablo Picasso's ceramics and pottery kiln in France, and one of Friedensreich Hundertwasser and his wife.
Box Folder
1 22 European Art Trip, 1956-1968
23 European Art Trip, May 1, 1959
24 European Art Trip, 1960
25 European Art Trip, June/July 1962
26 European Art Trip, Nov. 27, 1963
27 European Art Trip, 1967
28 European Art Trip, March 1969
29 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
30 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
31 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
32 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
33 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
34 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
35 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
36 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
37 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
38 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
39 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
40 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
41 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
42 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
43 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
44 European Art Trip, ca. 1950's
45 European Art Trip, undated
46 Newspaper clippings, 1958-1964

box folder
1 47-52 African Art Exhibit, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
This series contains black and white snapshots of displays of African sculpture from an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Box Folder
1 47 African Art Exhibit, March 1959
48 African Art Exhibit, March 1959
49 African Art Exhibit, March 1959
50 African Art Exhibit, March 1959
51 African Art Exhibit, March 1959
52 African Art Exhibit, March 1959

box folder
1 53-55 Joseph Romansky
This series contains two photographs and a photocopied obituary for Joseph L. Romansky, Alvin Romansky's father. Joseph Romansky worked for the Flaxman Dry Goods Co., which was owned by his brother-in-law, Thomas Flaxman.
Box Folder
1 53 Joseph Romansky, ca. 1940
54 Joseph Romansky, undated
55 Joseph Romansky, undated

box folder
1, 3 56-76 Thomas Flaxman
This series contains materials related to Thomas Flaxman, who was Alvin Romansky's uncle. At various times, Flaxman was president of Flaxman Dry Goods, head of the Port Houston Land and Townsite Company, and vice-president of the Houston Farms Development Company. Flaxman was also a founder of the Houston Country Club and the Houston Club, served on numerous civic boards, and was general manager of No-Tsu-Oh, an annual Mardi Gras-style carnival held in Houston before World War I.
Included are photographs, copies of newspaper clippings, the memorial book from Thomas Flaxman's memorial service, and a tablet with biographical or autobiographical notes about Thomas Flaxman. No-Tsu-Oh materials include a report from the directors of the 1914 Deep Water Festival, a sheet of stationery from that festival, and a silver loving cup that was presented to Thomas Flaxman. Also included are a number of photographs of the Houston Country Club, and the Houston Golf Club which formerly stood on its site.
Box Folder
1 56 Thomas Flaxman, [1897]
57 Thomas Flaxman, 1904
58 Thomas Flaxman, Sept. 25, 1952
59 Thomas Flaxman, Nov. 25, 1952
60 Thomas Flaxman, March 1965
61 Thomas Flaxman, [1965]
62 Thomas Flaxman, undated
63 Thomas Flaxman, undated
64 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh and Other Fairs, January 1914
65 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh and Other Fairs, June 30, 1914
66 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh and Other Fairs, 1914
67 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh and Other Fairs, 1915
68 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh and Other Fairs, 1922
69 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
70 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
71 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
72 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
73 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
74 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Country Club, ca. 1900
75 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Club, June 18-22, 1964
76 Thomas Flaxman: Houston Club, 1955-1958
3 Thomas Flaxman: No-Tsu-Oh (Loving Cup)

box folder
2, 4 1-31 Scrapbook
This series contains materials from two scrapbooks compiled by Alvin Romansky. Because the scrapbooks were fragile and in poor condition, most of the materials have been removed and placed in acid-free folders. Intact portions of two scrapbooks with their original newspaper clippings may be found in Box 4.
The scrapbook series includes the original charter and by-laws of the Contemporary Arts Association, photographs of modern furniture and silverware, exhibit catalogs and local arts publications, and many newspaper clippings. The clippings have been photocopied onto acid-free paper for preservation purposes.
Box Folder
2 1 Scrapbook: Correspondence, 1948-1953
2 Scrapbook: Contemporary Arts Association, 1948-1954
3 Scrapbook: Contemporary Arts Association, 1949
4 Scrapbook: Contemporary Arts Association, 1952-1954
5 Scrapbook: Contemporary Arts Association, ca. 1950
6 Scrapbook: Houston Exhibits, 1950-1953
7 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
8 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
9 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
10 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
11 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
12 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
13 Scrapbook: Photographs, 1950's
14 Scrapbook: Exhibits - Catalogs, 1951-1954
15 Scrapbook: Exhibits - Catalogs, 1954
16 Scrapbook: Local Art Publications, 1948-1949
17 Scrapbook: Local Art Publications, 1948-1950
18 Scrapbook: Local Art Publications, 1950
19 Scrapbook: Local Art Publications, 1954-1955
20 Scrapbook: Congregation Beth Israel, 1957
21 Scrapbook: Miscellaneous, ca. 1950's
22 Scrapbook: Clippings, 1933-1949
23 Scrapbook: Clippings, 1950
24 Scrapbook: Clippings, 1950-1953
25 Scrapbook: Clippings, 1953-1954
26 Scrapbook: Clippings, 1955-1957
27 Scrapbook: Clippings, undated
28 Scrapbook: Clippings, undated
29 Scrapbook: Clippings, undated
30 Scrapbook: Clippings, undated
31 Scrapbook: Clippings, undated
4 Scrapbook