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Lee Hancock Collection

Identifier: SWWC-099

Scope and Contents

The Lee Hancock Collection spans 1975-2004, with the bulk of materials covering 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2000. The collection is comprised of documents, clippings, videos, and other materials that Lee Hancock collected relating to the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas in 1993 and subsequent events. Except for the Media Coverage series, most materials within folders have been left in Hancock’s original order and arrangement. Therefore, there is some overlap of materials between folders, and some variance in the chronology of documents. Some date ranges span several years but only contain a few documents from each year. Folder titles in quotations are original folder titles written by Hancock.

The collection is arranged into the following five series: Non-Branch Davidian Incidents, Media Coverage, Investigations, House of Representatives Hearings, and Lawsuits.


  • 1975-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1993-2000


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials from the Wittliff Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user assumes responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish, and abiding by U.S. copyright laws.

Historical Notes

On February 28, 1993 the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to issue an arrest warrant for Vernon Wayne Howell and a search warrant for the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas on the basis of illegal weapons possession. The Branch Davidians in Mount Carmel and the ATF began a shootout that ended in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians. The occupants of Mount Carmel and government agencies remained in a standoff for fifty-one days until the FBI launched CS gas into the compound in an effort to make the Branch Davidians exit. The CS gas assault on April 19, 1993 ended in a fire in which seventy-six people inside Mount Carmel died, including twenty-three children.

After the fire a series of lawsuits and investigations began, including the 1994 criminal trial of the Branch Davidians, the 1995 congressional hearings, and a wrongful-death civil trial in 2000. The ATF and other government agencies were investigated by the FBI, the Texas Rangers and others for their handling of the raid, the standoff and the tear-gas assault.

As a journalist for the Dallas Morning News, Lee Hancock reported about the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco from the first day of the siege on February 28, 1993 until the fire on April 19, 1993. She continued to follow the story for the next ten years, including covering the subsequent investigations and trials. Through her sources, Hancock was able to retrieve documents from government agencies and release important information to the public, including the 1999 revelation that pyrotechnic CS gas was used on the last day of the siege before the fire.

After the tenth anniversary of the April 19, 1993 Mount Carmel fire, Dr. Catherine Wessinger, Professor of the History of Religions at Loyola University in New Orleans, contacted Hancock for an article Wessinger was writing about Branch Davidian standoff coverage in the media. At that point, Hancock had turned her focus to covering other stories, so she donated her research materials to Wessinger. Dr. Wessinger placed the materials in the Loyola University Archives in 2004 where initial processing of the collection began. Additional materials from Lee Hancock were donated in 2006.

In 2009, Dr. Wessinger met Wittliff Collections archivist Joel Minor at a memorial in Waco, and was impressed with his work on the Dick Reavis Papers and the Ashes of Waco digital collection. Since the Loyola University Archives had not completed processing the collection, Wessinger recommended to Lee Hancock that the collection be moved to Texas State University. The collection was relocated to Texas State University in late 2010 and processed in 2011.

Dr. Catherine Wessinger wrote two articles related to the Hancock collection, “The Lee Hancock Collection: Federal and State Materials on the Branch Davidian Case,” and “Deaths in the Fire at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel: Who Bears Responsibility?” Both articles can be found in the November 2009 issue of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, volume 13, number 2. It is available in the Wittliff Collections.

Today, Lee Hancock continues as a journalist at the Dallas Morning News. Besides the Branch Davidian standoff, Ms. Hancock has written investigative articles about such topics as the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood Shootings

Sources: Catherine Wessinger correspondence with Maggie DeBrecht, Wessinger’s article “The Lee Hancock Collection,” and materials from the Lee Hancock Research Collection.


10 Linear Feet

20 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.


Documents, clippings, videos, and other research materials represent journalist Lee Hancock’s research into the events of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco in 1993. The materials are arranged into the following five series: Non-Branch Davidian Incidents, Media Coverage, Investigations, House of Representatives Hearings, and Lawsuits.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Lee Hancock to Loyola University, 2004 and 2006, transferred to The Wittliff Collections with Hancock’s permission, 2010.

Separated Materials

Books in the Lee Hancock Collection have been cataloged and the records are searchable through the Alkek Library online catalog.

Guide to the Lee Hancock Collection
Maggie DeBrecht
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