Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964Variant names
J. Frank Dobie was a noted Texas author and English professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He was also editor of the Texas Folklore Society's publications during the 1930's and 1940's.
From the description of Letter : to W.A. Philpott, 1938 April 12. (University of Texas at Arlington). WorldCat record id: 22699684
Historian, author, folklorist. Born in 1888 on a ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, Dobie was awarded his B.A. by Southwestern University (1910), M.A. by Columbia University (1914), and Ph. D. by the University of Texas (1933). Served in the 116th Field Artillery Unit during World War I. Taught at the University of Texas, Oklahoma A & M, and Cambridge University in England (1914-1947). Awarded the Medal of Freedom by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. B. Johnson in 1964.
From the description of Letter : to Mr. Kenneth Porter, Eugene, Or., 1952 May 3. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 44402571
Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, Secretary-editor of the Texas Folklore Society, author of many books and articles on Southwestern folklore.
From the description of J. Frank Dobie Papers 1890s-1991 (bulk 1914-1964). (Texas State University-San Marcos). WorldCat record id: 48243518
Historian, author, folklorist. Born in 1888 on a ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, Dobie was awarded his B.A. by Southwestern University (1910), M.A. by Columbia University (1914), and Ph. D. by the University of Texas (1933). Served in the 116th Field Artillery Unit during World War I. Taught at the University of Texas, Oklahoma A & M, and Cambridge University in England (1914-1947). Author of numerous articles and books on Texas, including "Coronado's Children" (1931), "The Longhorns" (1941), "The Mustangs" (1952), and "Tales of Old Time Texas" (1955). Awarded the Medal of Freedom by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Died in 1964.
From the description of Collection, 1927-1964, 1927-1943. (Texas Tech University). WorldCat record id: 23712797
Writer, historian, and University of Texas professor of English.
From the description of Dobie, James Frank, papers, 1923-1967. (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 21464745
The events described by Daniels can be found in part in O. Henry's Buried treasure.
From the description of O. Henry's treasure hunt : manuscript, 1925 and [not after 1936] (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612842634
J. Frank Dobie was an author, folklorist, and teacher, noted for his work on the history, culture, and mythology of the American Southwest. Born on a Texas ranch, he received degrees from Southwestern and Columbia Universities, and an honorary degree from Cambridge University, England, where he was a lecturer. He taught at the University of Texas for thirty-three years.
From the description of The Saltillo diary, 1933 Aug. 21-Sept. 7. (Texas State University-San Marcos). WorldCat record id: 18490498
From the description of Panthers, 1928-1963. (Texas State University-San Marcos). WorldCat record id: 18436092
J. Frank Dobie, teacher, storyteller, folklorist, historian, and author, was born September 18, 1888 on a ranch in the South Texas brush country of Live Oak County. Raised in the toughening, physically bracing traditions of a remote ranching region, Dobie nonetheless developed an early love for language and literature. His mother encouraged reading, providing her children with mail-ordered books, and his father developed the boy's narrative sense with nightly readings of the King James version of the bible. Dobie's mother saw to it that he and his siblings were sent away to relatives in the small town of Alice so that they could obtain the requisite schooling to pursue higher education.
Dobie received his BA from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. There, under the influence of Professor Albert Shipp Pegues, he became enthralled by the English romantic poets. There too he met the poetry-loving Bertha McKee, who would become his wife, lifelong companion, adviser, booster and critic. After Dobie received his degree in 1910, he taught at a high school in Alpine, Texas and worked summers as a newspaper reporter. Deciding he wished to teach poetry at a more advanced level than high school, Dobie pursued a Masters at Columbia University. He later admitted to being only a lackluster student who learned more from New York and the New York theater than he did from the university.
Returning to Texas, Dobie joined the English Department of the University of Texas at Austin. In his first year there, he officed with Stith Thompson who introduced him to the organization with which he became so closely identified, the Texas Folklore Society World War I soon wrested Dobie from the classroom and he was sent overseas shortly before the armistice. While he missed the fighting, he took the opportunity to acquaint himself with Europe.
Dobie returned to the University of Texas English Department after his discharge from the army. Still ambivalent about his life's direction, he left UT in 1920 to run an uncle's ranch. The ranching stint was unsuccessful and he returned to teaching, writing his wife that "in the university I am a wild man; in the wilds I am a scholar and a poet" (Tinkle 102). He began to settle on a scholarly pursuit that could make use of both environments. Dobie had enjoyed listening to the stories of one of his uncle's vaqueros, Santos Cortez. "It came to me that I would collect and tell the legendary tales of Texas as Lomax had collected the old-time songs and ballads of Texas and the frontier. I thought that the stories of the range were as interesting as the songs. I considered that if they could be put down so as to show the background out of which they have come they might have high value" (Tinkle 102). From that point, Dobie actively pursued the folk legends of the Southwest in his travels, readings, and writings.
Dobie became editor of the Texas Folklore Society in 1921. He took a strong hand in the independent direction of the organization, which still follows the standards he set. Under Dobie, the Texas Folklore Society broke from the practices of the American Folklore Society. The national branch examined the subject from an objective scholarly viewpoint while Dobie and his followers instead collected and presented folklore as a living, breathing, participatory endeavor.
Dobie's second book, Coronado's Children, received national attention and broadened substantially the Texas writer's audience. In 1932, Dobie ventured into broadcasting with the radio program "Longhorn Luke and his Cowboys." He also published articles in magazines and continued to put out his folklore books. He frequently traveled in search of material for his books, and he became a popular speaker on the lecture circuit. In 1939, he began his syndicated newspaper column "My Texas." Successful in each medium, Dobie came to symbolize the essence of Texas in the popular mind.
Through all this activity, Dobie remained based at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1930, he introduced his course Life and Literature of the Southwest, and it became the most popular offering on campus. Its curriculum was copied in universities across the state.
Dobie had always had a prickly relationship with the University of Texas based partly on his refusal to seek a PhD and partly on his belief that the Southwest was a sufficient scholarly focus in its own right. In 1943, Dobie left UT to serve a two-year stint as lecturer on American History in Cambridge, England. Upon his return, Dobie jumped right into a heated controversy when he spoke out in defense of Homer Price Rainey, president of the University of Texas, in the fight with the Board of Regents. In 1947, when then University president Theophilus Painter refused to grant Dobie another leave, Dobie resigned with the administration's acquiescence. He remained at his home in the University area and was always associated with the University of Texas though his formal days as a teacher were over.
Dobie endeared himself to the public both through his personality and his brand of tale telling. He boldly used his popularity to speak out on social issues and other causes that captured his attention. An ardent individualist, he constantly railed against censorship, demagogic religiosity, and those who would impede freedom of thought. "I have come to value liberated minds as the supreme good of life on earth" ( Some Part of Myself 6). He championed black voting rights in 1945 and supported organized labor's right to strike. He considered certain college departments unsatisfactory as programs of learning. Journalism, he said, was the unctuous elaboration of the obvious. Of education-trained teachers he commented, "I have never encountered one possessed of a first class mind, though I have encountered a few fairly good ones. Many are dull well-meanders, cunning climbers, exponents of the paltry, and, worst of all, duelers of eager searching intelligence--especially of intelligence lodged in teachers not willing to knuckle" (Tinkle 170).
After Dobie's death in September of 1964, his wife Bertha, who had worked so closely with him throughout their life together, saw to the publication of two books under Dobie's name based on his notes. The Dobies had no children of their own but were particularly fond of Bertha's nephew, Edgar Kincaid. Kincaid moved in with the Dobies when he became a student at the University of Texas, and he remained in their Austin house on 26th Street to tend to them in their old age. Kincaid was an avid ornithologist and editor of The Bird Life of Texas (1974).
The Dobie name today is often spoken in the same breath with that of his two University of Texas contemporaries, the historian Walter Prescott Webb and the naturalist Roy Bedichek. The three friends have been titled Texas' intellectual triumvirate and are considered the forerunners to Texas literature. "[They] were living proof that serious persons could do independent cultural work in Texas" ( Texas Observer 18).
Joe Frantz remarked that Dobie was "Texas' first liberated mind to achieve a wide audience and the first truly professional writer produced by the state" ( Third Coast 1983). Many Texas writers openly credit Dobie with giving them the inspiration not only to be a writer but also to feel comfortable using their home state as a subject. Billy Lee Brammer admitted, "It never occurred to me--ever--until I read Frank Dobie, that I could be a writer. There simply were no writers in Texas" ( Texas Observer 21). Fred Gipson confided that he had never realized it was possible to live in Texas and be a writer until Dobie set the example ( Austin American Statesman B5). Publisher and screenwriter Bill Wittliff wrote Bertha on Dobie's death that "Dobie was the prime moving force of my life." Bertha and friends established a most fitting memorial to Dobie in light of his contribution to Texas letters, the Dobie-Paisano fellowship. The award provides money for writers and artists to work on their projects during a six month stay on Dobie's Paisano ranch in the hill country outside of Austin.
Bibliography: Dobie, J. Frank. Some Part of Myself . Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967; Dugger, Ronnie, "Dobie, Bedichek, Webb: Workers in the Culture," The Texas Observer 19 Aug. 1983: 18; Frantz, Joe, "The Forty Acre Follies,” The Third Coast, Dec. 1983: 100; Porterfield, Billy, "Dobie's Roots Helped Texas Writers Blossom" The Austin American-Statesman, 24 Sep. 1990: B1; and Tinkle, Lon. An American Original . Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978.
From the guide to the J. Frank Dobie Papers Collection 019., 1898 -1988 (Bulk: 1914-1964), (Southwestern Writers Collection, Special Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos)
J. Frank Dobie, historian, teacher, author, and folklorist, was born on September 26, 1888 on a ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, the son of Richard J. and Ella (Byler) Dobie. In 1910, he graduated with a B. A. degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown. He began teaching shortly thereafter in Alpine, Texas, and working summers as a newspaper reporter. After receiving a master's degree from Columbia University, Dobie joined the University of Texas faculty and the Texas Folklore Society in 1914. Dobie and writer Bertha McKee were married in 1916. He interrupted his work at the University for two years during World War I and then again in 1920 to manage his uncle Jim Dobie's ranch. In 1919, Dobie began writing articles for the Southwest Review (then known as the Texas Review). Dobie's first book, A Vaquero of the Brush Country, was published in 1929. This book was followed two years later by Coronado's Children (1931), and then On the Open Range (1931), Tales of the Mustang (1936), The Flavor of Texas (1936), Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver (1939), The Longhorns (1941), Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest (1942), and Tongues of the Monte (1947).
Dobie was also a vocal member of the Advisory Board of Texas Historians, which reported regularly to the Commission of Control for the Texas Centennial Celebrations. These celebrations were characterized by a strong interest in Texas history, and accordingly marking and preserving sites of historical significance. The Advisory Board made specific recommendations with accompanying budget outlines to the Commission. The recommendations included erecting new markers for the graves of notable individuals in Texas history, making corrections to inscriptions on existing Texas monuments, the relocation of the remains of Texas heroes to the Texas State Cemetery, and creation of new monuments to mark the sites of important historical events. Dobie himself was outspoken in his criticism of the state of existing monuments. During this time, he corresponded with historian and Advisory Board chairman Louis Wiltz Kemp, as well as famous sculptors Gutzon Borglum, Pompeo Coppini, and Bonnie MacLeary. Dobie was also active in the Centennial Celebrations themselves and was even offered a seat on the Speakers' Platform at the Dallas festivities.
In 1939, Dobie began his syndicated newspaper column "My Texas." After a leave of absence from the University of Texas during World War II, Dobie became embroiled in a fierce debate with the University of Texas board of regents over the firing of President Homer P. Rainey in November 1944. Dobie requested a continuation of his leave of absence in 1947, but was refused and dismissed from the UT faculty, thereby ending his teaching career. Dobie remained in the Austin area and devoted all his time to writing and anthologizing. Publication of The Voice of the Coyote (1949), The Ben Lilly Legend (1950), The Mustangs (1952), Tales of Old Time Texas (1955), Up the Trail from Texas (1955), I'll Tell You a Tale (1960), and Cow People (1964) occurred during this time. President Lyndon Johnson awarded him the Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964, and Dobie died on September 18, 1964.
From the guide to the James Frank Dobie Papers 85-98; 90-021; 91-144; 93-214; 97-336; 2008-161; 2008-235; 2009-050; 2009-273., 1923-2008, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Mexico City (Mexico)|
|Texas--Centennial celebrations, etc|
|Texas Centennial (1936 : Dallas, Tex.)|
|Folklore and history|
|Authors, American--20th century--Biography|
|Authors, American--20th century--Photographs|
|Authors, American--20th century|
|Texas Folklore Society|
|World War, 1939-1945|
|Wit and humor|
|American literature--20th century|