A Guide to the Boyce House Papers, 1944-1947
Boyce B. House (1896-1961) traveled extensively starting at a young age. He was born to Noah E. and Margaret (O’Brien) House in Piggott, Arkansas, and finally settled with his mother in Memphis, Tennessee, following his father’s death. He continued to travel, visiting Texas alone and attending schools in multiple towns. He graduated with honors from Memphis Central High School, where he had also been a respected member of the debate team. Unable to afford college, House began working for two Memphis newspapers. However, due to poor health, House left his editing position at the Piggott Banner in 1920 and moved to Texas, where he continued to gain acclamation as a reporter.
Stories featuring “Old Rip,” a horned toad that apparently survived for thirty-years in the cornerstone of the Eastland County Courthouse, and the Santa Claus bank robbery in Cisco, California, earned House a national reputation for writing about curiosities to match his local reputation for hard work and integrity. He soon became an expert on Texas oil and the history of boomtowns, leading to the publication of several books and papers, as well as his role as technical advisor for the movie Boomtown (1940), starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, and Heddy Lamar.
Following this experience, House returned to Texas and began writing humorous columns and books. His weekly column and radio show gained national coverage and warranted a celebrity status in Texas. This led him to get involved in politics, and despite losing the nomination as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Texas, he remained a strong supporter of the Democratic Party.
House corresponded heavily throughout his life, conversing with William Jennings Bryan during his time as the editor of the Piggot Banner, and with hundreds of people in Wichita Falls and Burkburnett in order to learn everything possible about the Burkburnett oilfield while working on Boomtown.
Hewitt, Harry P. “House, Boyce B.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed July 21, 2010.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fho65.
The Boyce B. House Papers, 1944-1945, 1947, include correspondence, post card, literary productions and speeches. The collection relates to reminiscences on episodes from Texas history and on Texana and Western lore used by House as material for feature stories. The episodes deal with the Alamo, banditry, Indian fighting, and oil-field lore.
The collection is open for research use.
Boyce House Papers, 1944-1947, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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