Skip to main content

Dudley Dobie Collection

Identifier: SWWC-110

Scope and Contents

The Dudley Dobie, Sr. Collection includes documents from the 1910s through the 1980s.  The collection contains 24 boxes (including 8 boxes of oversized materials) and is 12 linear feet.  There are 11 series within the collection, most holding multiple subseries.  The collection is comprised of: Series I – Biographical Material; Series II – Correspondence; Series III – Writings by Dudley Dobie, Sr.; Series IV – Bookstore; Series V – J. Frank Dobie; Series VI – Milton and Ruth Dodson; Series VII – Henry DuPont; Series VIII – Walter Prescott Webb; Series IX – Ralph W. Yarborough; Series X – Writings by Others; and Series XI – Oversized Materials.  

Much of the collection was preserved in its original filing order to maintain the integrity of the collection.  Further, in order to maintain original integrity, many of the folders have retained their original headings; where originally labeled by Dobie, headings are within quotation marks.  However, the contents within the folders have often been reorganized either alphabetically or chronologically.

A number of books and publications from the collection were removed to backlog.  Several of these materials were written and signed by Dudley Dobie, Sr. – including Gregg Shorthand, New and Revised Edition [Signed by Author-Dudley Dobie]; Gregg Speed Studies [Signed by Author-Dudley Dobie]; and Pancho Villa’s Last Hangout- On Both Sides of the Rio Grande in the Big Bend Country, Dudley Dobie [Signed by Author].

Other backlog materials also have inscriptions or signatures, including: College Prose, Boatright and Hughes [Inscriptions Inside Front Cover]; Ed Nichols Rode A Horse as Told to Ruby Nichols Cutbirth, J. Frank Dobie ed. [Signed]; Green Russell and Gold, Emma Dill Russell Spencer [Signed by Author]; J. Frank Dobie: Bibliography, Compiled by Spruill Cook [Signed by the Compiler]; and A Texas Cowboy, Siringo, Introduction by Dobie [Hardcover, Signed by Author].

Non-signed historical works in the backlog include: Coffee In The Gourd, Edited by J. Frank Dobie; From Hell to Breakfast, Mody C. Boatright and Donald Day eds; A Texas Cowboy, Charles A. Siringo; A Texas Cowboy, Siringo, Introduction by Dobie [Hardcover]; and The Voice of the Coyote, by J. Frank Dobie.

The backlog also contains a variety of textbooks and other educational materials, including: Adventures in Appreciation, Standard Second Edition, by Cook, Miller, and Loban; Adventures in Appreciation, Second Edition, by Cook, Miller, and Loban; Adventures in Reading, Second Edition, Ross and Thompson [Laid in Item]; Adventures in Reading, Standard Second Edition, Ross and Thompson; Adventures in Reading, Third Edition, Ross and Thompson [Plastic Dust Jacket]; Literature and Life, Book One, Miles and Keck [Laid In Item]; Literature in the Senior High School: American Literature, Briggs, Herzberg, Jackson, Bolenius; and Our Literary Heritage: Literature We Appreciate, Blankenship, Nash, and Werner. Non-book backlog publications include: E342, No. 1, 1940; E342, Volume One, 1940; E342, Volume Three: Typically Texian, 1942; E342, Volume Four, 1943; Lincoln-Mercury Times, November-December 1950 [2 Copies]; Publications of the Texas Folk-Lore Society, Number IV, May 1925; and Publications of the Texas Folk-Lore Society, Number V; and The Texas Monthly, August 1929 [Laid In Item].  Additional archival material about Dudley Dobie, Sr., can be found at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.  The Dudley R. Dobie Papers span 1930 to 1974 and cover circa 1 foot.  The materials primarily pertain to Dudley’s years in Alpine, Texas, at Sul Ross State Teachers College (now Sul Ross State University).  For additional documentation regarding Dudley’s cousin, J. Frank Dobie, see relevant collections at Texas State University’s Wittliff Collections, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and the Austin History Center.


  • 1917-1980


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Dudley Richard Dobie, Sr. was a third generation Texan, antiquarian bookseller, writer and educator.  He was born in 1904 in Lagarto, Texas, in southern Live Oak County.  His parents, William Neville and Mary E. (Mills) Dobie, were prominent South Texas ranchers.  The Dobie’s first settled around Harris County, Texas in 1828, a few years before the outbreak of the Texas Revolution.  His branch of the family moved to Live Oak County in the late 1860s.

Famed southwestern folklorist, J. Frank Dobie, Dudley Dobie’s first cousin, grew up on a neighboring ranch.  Due to a sixteen-year age difference, Dudley and J. Frank were not close as children but developed a strong friendship and shared a similar worldview as adults.  Their shared ranching heritage also strongly influenced and shaped their character.  Dudley attended Lagarto’s primary and secondary school and graduated from Mathis High School in 1923 as valedictorian. 

In 1924, after a year of unproductive job searching, Dudley began attending Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas.  He graduated with a degree in history in 1927 and soon became the principal of the Westover School in western San Marcos.  A few months later, he married Deborah Galbreath (nicknamed Bibba), and together they had three children.  According to his own recollections, Dudley’s hobby of serious book collecting began in the winter of 1927 - 1928.

In the summer of 1928, Dudley began graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin.  He visited the campus every summer for four years, completing his MA in history in 1932.  His master’s thesis, “A History of Hays County, Texas,” was supervised by historian and author Walter Prescott Webb.  In 1933, Dudley left the Westover School to become an educational advisor for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal relief program operating from 1933 to 1943.  Throughout this period, Dudley wrote several historical articles for a variety of newspapers and magazines in Texas. Dudley Dobie became a San Marcos-based bookseller in 1935, supplementing his income with freelance writing.  Dudley also scouted Texas for artifacts for the Hall of State at the Texas Centennial Exposition and Fair, which opened in Dallas in 1936.  Throughout the 1930s Dudley continued to collect books and made a number of literary connections across the state.  He regularly attended annual meetings of the Texas State Historical Association, the Old Trail Drivers Association, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.  He was also a member of the Texas Folklore Society, where J. Frank Dobie, his cousin, served as the secretary-editor for twenty-one years until his death in 1964.  Dudley built long-lasting friendships with various people from these assorted organizations.  He also maintained a friendship with U.S. Senator Ralph W. Yarborough, a liberal Texas Democrat, during these years.

In the winter of 1940-1941, Dudley assisted with the Texas State Historical Association’s first book auction, now a traditional feature of the organization.  He also ran a mail-order book business out of his San Marcos home, occasionally loading up his car with various books and traveling to Austin and San Antonio to solicit potential customers at their homes or businesses.  Dudley worked at Southwest Texas State Teachers College part-time as a non-tenured history instructor and part-time as a museum director for ten years.  By working part-time for the university, Dudley was able to teach and run his bookselling business.  His first printed catalogue, Spirited Southwest: Roundup No. 1, came out in 1947.  Dudley also served as a San Marcos city alderman from 1949 to 1951.

In 1952, Dudley opened his first bookstore in Austin, at the current site of the Dobie Center, near the University of Texas’s main campus.  However, he did not find much success and was forced to close the store.  Later he dabbled in politics, making an unsuccessful run for school superintendent in Hays County.  In 1955, he opened a bookshop and gift store in San Marcos, but success remained elusive.  Fortunately, during this time he received an unexpected offer to teach history and direct the Big Bend Memorial Museum (now the Museum of the Big Bend) at Sul Ross State Teachers College (now Sul Ross State University) in Alpine, Texas. Dobie taught at Sul Ross, excluding the 1958-1959 academic year, until his retirement and return to San Marcos in 1966.  From 1966 until his death in 1982, Dudley continued to sell books via mail order from his San Marcos home.  He also served a term as the Hays County Democratic Chairman and was a ten-year member of the Hays County Historical Commission. Although he made several notes intended for his memoirs, he never completed it. 

Dudley was an educator, writer and folklorist who loved sharing stories of frontier life in Texas.  He knew a great deal about this subject from a wealth of reading and his personal and family experiences.  He wrote several newspaper and magazine features and privately published A History of San Marcos and Hays County (1948) and Adventures in the Canyons: Mountains and Desert Country of the Big Bend of Texas and Mexico (1952).  He succumbed to colon cancer on April 17, 1982.


24 boxes

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • The descriptive data created for this finding aid is licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons license and is free for use without restriction.


The Dudley Dobie, Sr. collection spans from 1917 to 1980 and documents his life, career, and relationships as an antiquarian bookseller, writer, historian, and educator in Texas.  The bulk of the collection is correspondence between Dudley Dobie, Sr. and colleagues, friends, and family members - including J. Frank Dobie, Ruth Dodson, Henry DuPont, Walter Prescott Webb, and U.S Senator Ralph W. Yarborough.  This collection is also comprised of documents relating to Dudley’s bookselling business and papers from his personal writing career, including many of his published stories and articles.  The collection also contains fragile newspapers, photographs, an audio disc, and a large amount of campaign and political material related to U.S. Senator Ralph W. Yarborough.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dudley Dobie, Jr. and Marcelle Smith, 2013.

Related Materials

J. Frank Dobie Collection (Collection SWWC 019)

Method of Acquisition

Some materials were donated to the Texas State University Archives, per the donors and Steve Davis – including Southwest Texas State Normal College Student’s Handbook, 1922 -1923; Yearbook Pictures of the Class of 1927 of Southwest Texas State Teachers College; Three Framed Photos of the University Play “Tommy” Produced in 1928; Playbill for “Tommy” Production (4 copies); “Tommy” Script with Dobie’s Acting Notes; The College Star, dated October 2, 1946; The College Star, dated April 9, 1947; The College Star, dated October 22, 1954 (4 copies); The College Star, dated October 29, 1954; The College Star, dated November 5, 1954; The College Star, dated October 3, 1958; The College Star, dated November 19, 1971; The College Star clipping, not dated.

Guide to the Dudley Dobie, Sr. Collection
Jennifer Barkdull, Caitlin McColl, Kelli Shapiro, Katie Whitehurst
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised for ArchivesSpace by Susannah Broyles.

Repository Details

Part of the The Wittliff Collections Repository

601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA