A Guide to the T.R. Fehrenbach Papers, 1925-2002
Texas author and historian Theodore Reed Fehrenbach (1925--) was born in San Benito, Texas. His family relocated to Brownsville, Texas when he was five. They later moved to California, where he graduated from Hollywood High School at the age of 16. Fehrenbach entered Princeton University in 1941. After serving in WWII, he returned to Princeton to graduate magna cum laude in 1947.
A brief career as a cotton farmer was interrupted when Fehrenbach returned to active military duty during the Korean War as a platoon leader, company commander, and Intelligence Officer. He later served as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. After military service he started the Royal Poinciana Insurance Company in San Antonio, Texas, and began his writing career in earnest. Fehrenbach’s experience provided the material for This Kind of War, his account of the Korean conflict, which was published in 1963. This work is held in high esteem by the military and a portion of it is included in the U.S. Military Academy text Introduction to the Military Profession. This Kind of War is required reading for all soldiers stationed in Korea.
Lone Star, a history of Texas, published in 1968 is Fehrenbach’s best-known work. It has been used as a text in college history courses and has been included as a Book of the Month Club selection. In 1986, PBS produced a mini-series adaptation of Lone Star. Because of Fehrenbach’s knowledge of Texana, he often consulted with journalists on Texas history, politics, and current affairs.
Fehrenbach’s complete list of works reflects wide-ranging and diverse historical interests. Comanches traces the rise and fall of that tribe, while Fire and Blood recounts the history of Mexico. Swiss Banks delves into the mysterious and secretive world of the Swiss banking system and This Kind of Peace explores the development of the United Nations. Fehrenbach’s writings are not without controversy, however. Swiss Banks raised the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which censored part of the text. In addition, characterizations of an American businessman and an Iranian sheik provoked threats of libel suits.
Fehrenbach published articles in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Elk, American Legion, and internationally in Zurich Woche, L’Express and the London Sunday Times. He also served as Secretary for the San Antonio Publishing Corporation, started in 1981, which published the magazine San Antonio Monthly.
Fehrenbach served on or chaired numerous commissions and committees including the Texas 2000 Commission, the Texas Historical Commission, the Capitol Centennial Committee and the Texas Antiquities Protection Committee. Awards from associations ranging from the Knights of Mark Twain, Sons of the Texas Revolution, and the U.S. Army have been bestowed upon Fehrenbach. His many speaking engagements included an invitation by Governor William Hobby to speak to a joint session of the Texas legislature on March 2, 1977, regarding the celebration of Texas Independence. In 1986 the Texas Historical Commission established the T.R. Fehrenbach Publications Award in his honor.
Fehrenbach died in San Antonio on December 1, 2013. He was a regular columnist for the San Antonio Express-News until shortly before his death.
The T.R. Fehrenbach Papers, 1925-2002, include creative works, research notes, printed materials, correspondence, photographs, royalty statements, and audiovisual material, and bulk 1962-1995. The papers, created and gathered by Fehrenbach, document his activity as an author and a historian. Pre-publication typescripts, galley proofs, work notes, camera-ready maps, post-publication reviews, materials pertaining to the PBS adaptation of Lone Star, and publicity ads illustrate Fehrenbach’s literary career.
The Literary Production series encompasses published works as well as outlines and research notes for unpublished works. Notable published works are FDR’s Undeclared War and Comanches, both of which contain two corrected typescripts and two galley proofs, with extensive handwritten comments. The Biographical Clippings subseries contains materials that relate to Fehrenbach as an author, but are not connected to a specific work. Examples include an interview entitled "San Antonio’s Most Famous Unknown Author."
The Literary Production series also contains professional correspondence, including letters from well-known Texans such as William Hobby, William Clements, John Tower, Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Ima Hogg. The more routine material includes a letter regarding the use of Fire and Blood as a text in a Mexican history class, correspondence with the reviewer Leon Metz (recipient of the T. R. Fehrenbach Award in 1990), and a group of thank-you notes from a high school history class who attended a lecture given by Fehrenbach at their local library. Also included under the Literary Production series heading are memoranda from agents and publishers, documenting routine communication between the author and publisher.
Another subseries, Historical Commentary, includes photographs covering diverse subjects ranging from Fehrenbach’s childhood home to a reunion of Korean War veterans; as well as printed materials including programs of events and news clippings, documenting the many historical, social and professional groups of which Fehrenbach was a member. The Awards series, mostly separated to the Artifact Collection, includes certificates and plaques regarding awards given for literary and historical work.
Two other, lesser series in the collection relate to information concerning Fehrenbach’s involvement in the San Antonio Publishing Company as well as to the 1968 publication of Lillian Fehrenbach’s cookbook, The Pedernales Cookbook.
Use of audio and video materials is restricted. Contact archivist for more information.
Copyright held by T. R. Fehrenbach.
T.R. Fehrenbach Papers, 1925-2002, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Sarah Cunningham, Mary Ann Murdock, and Leah Billingsley, November 2003. Subsequent revisions were made by Evan Hocker, July 2007, and A. Posey, August 2007.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers