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Robert Compton Papers

Identifier: SWWC-107

Scope and Contents

The Robert “Bob” Compton Collection includes documents that cover the years 1955 through 2008. The collection contains 28 boxes and is 16 linear feet. There are four series within this collection: Series I – Compton Personal Papers, Series II – Correspondence, Series III – Dallas Morning News, and Series IV – Newspapers and Magazines. There are two subseries within Series III. The first of the two subseries is Pre-1976, prior to the creation of the Focus section. This includes Compton’s career as a Reporter and Assistant Editor. The second subseries includes the dates 1976-1998, Compton’s career as Focus and Books Editor. This is the largest of the two subseries. Much of Compton’s Collection has been maintained in its original filing order to maintain the integrity of the collection. However, the contents within the folders have been organized either alphabetically or chronologically.


  • 1955-2008


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.

Biographical Note

Robert “Bob” Compton is a fifth generation Texan. He graduated from Teague High School in 1944. Compton attended Texas A&M University from 1944 through 1945, when he left to join the United States Navy. Compton served in the United States Navy from 1945 through 1945. He then entered Southern Methodist University, majoring in Journalism. He graduated in 1949 and began his first newspaper job as a Reporter for the Pampa (Texas) Daily News. Compton worked at the Pampa Daily News until 1950, when the Garland Daily News (later changed to the Garland Herald) hired him as a Reporter. Compton worked as a Reporter for the Garland Daily News until 1956.

In 1956, the Dallas Morning News hired Compton as a General Assignments Reporter. He worked in this position until 1957, when he was promoted to Assistant Editor. Compton served in this capacity until 1976, when he created and became Editor of the Focus section of the Dallas Morning News. This section included news analysis and special features. In 1982, the Dallas Morning News assigned Compton to be editor of the Books section. Compton served as Editor of both sections until the Focus was discontinued in 1984. Compton acted as Editor of the Books section, as well as Special Assignments Editor from 1984 through 1990. Compton continued as the Books Editor of the Book Pages section of the Dallas Morning News from 1990 until his retirement in 1998. Through Compton’s employment at the Dallas Morning News, he initiated and maintained correspondences with many influential and well-known journalists and writers, including Jim Lehrer, Larry McMurtry, and William Goyen. His correspondences show long-lasting working relationships, as well as friendships, based on respect and mutual admiration. While acting as Books Editor, Compton was responsible for determining policies regarding book reviewers. Through his tenure at the Dallas Morning News, Compton developed well-respected and recognized sections of the Dallas Morning News.

Compton has been a member of the National books Critics Circle, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Texas Folklore Society. While serving as Books Editor, Compton helped launch the Poetry in Motion program in Dallas, Texas, in 1998. He received the Media Award from the Book Publishers of Texas Association in 1988. In 2012, Compton was named a Living Legend of North Texas Journalism.


28 boxes

16 Linear Feet

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 Robert Compton papers span 1955-2008 and document the career of the well-respected and long-time Books editor of the Dallas Morning News. The bulk of the collection is the correspondences from book reviewers, journalists, and authors, including Jim Lehrer, Larry McMurtry, Rick Bass, and William Goyen. This collection also is comprised of documents that pertain to the inner-workings of the Dallas Morning News, including changes in writing styles pertaining to race and gender. The collection also contains photographs, cassette tape recordings, and fragile newspapers.

Physical Location

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

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Bob Compton, 2010

Guide to the Robert Compton Papers
Jennifer Barkdull
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 Katie Salzmann

Repository Details

Part of the The Wittliff Collections Repository

601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA