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Ben Thompson: Portrait of a Gunfighter

Description: Ben Thompson was a remarkable man, and few Texans can claim to have crowded more excitement, danger, drama, and tragedy into their lives than he did. He was an Indian fighter, Texas Ranger, Confederate cavalryman, mercenary for a foreign emperor, hired gun for a railroad, an elected lawman, professional gambler, and the victor of numerous gunfights. As a leading member of the Wild West’s sporting element, Ben Thompson spent most of his life moving in the unsavory underbelly of the West: saloons, dance-houses, billiard halls, bordellos, and gambling dens. During these travels many of the Wild West’s most famous icons—Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Wild Bill Hickok, John Wesley Hardin, John Ringo, and Buffalo Bill Cody—became acquainted with Ben Thompson. Some of these men called him a friend; others considered him a deadly enemy. In life and in death no one ever doubted Ben Thompson’s courage; one Texas newspaperman asserted he was “perfectly fearless, a perfect lion in nature when aroused.” This willingness to trust his life to his expertise with a pistol placed Thompson prominently among the western frontier’s most flamboyant breed of men: gunfighters.
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Bicknell, Thomas C., & Parsons, Chuck
Partner: UNT Press

Accidental Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and Their Fight for Marriage Equality in Texas

Description: In early 2013 same-sex marriage was legal in only ten states and the District of Columbia. That year the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor appeared to open the door to marriage equality. In Texas, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, together for sixteen years and deeply in love, wondered why no one had stepped across the threshold to challenge their state’s 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. They agreed to join a lawsuit being put together by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLD. Two years later—after tense battles in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas and in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after sitting through oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States in Obergefell v. Hodges—they won the right to marry deep in the heart of Texas. But the road they traveled was never easy. Accidental Activists is the deeply moving story of two men who struggled to achieve the dignity of which Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke in a series of Supreme Court decisions that recognized the “personhood,” the essential humanity of gays and lesbians. Author David Collins tells Mark and Vic’s story in the context of legal and social history and explains the complex legal issues and developments surrounding same-sex marriage in layman’s terms.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Collins, David
Partner: UNT Press

Public Libraries in the United States Fiscal Year 2014

Description: The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. As part of its mission, IMLS conducts policy research, analysis, and data collection to extend and improve the nation’s museum, library, and information services. IMLS research activities are conducted in ongoing collaboration with state library administrative agencies; national, state, and regional library and museum organizations; and other relevant agencies and organizations. IMLS research activities are designed to provide consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate indicators of the status and trends in library and museum services and to report timely, useful, and high-quality data to Congress, the states, other policy-makers, practitioners, data users, and the general public. Accordingly, IMLS is responsible for providing policymakers, researchers, and the general public with information about public libraries in the United States. Public libraries have a long tradition of serving as community anchors—providing a wide array of services and resources in communities. The Public Libraries Survey (PLS), under the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 administered by IMLS, collects annual data about the ways in which public libraries serve their communities. Since 1989, the PLS has documented the ways that modern public libraries have responded to an increasingly diverse public with broader information needs. This information not only helps to identify areas of activity and community engagement but also can uncover opportunities for further services and reach. The PLS is a national census that collects information from public libraries in 50 states, the District of Columbia, ...
Date: August 2017
Creator: Institute of Museum and Library Services (U.S.)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Rounded Up in Glory: Frank Reaugh, Texas Renaissance Man

Description: Frank Reaugh (1860–1945; pronounced “Ray”) was called “the Dean of Texas artists” for good reason. His pastels documented the wide-open spaces of the West as they were vanishing in the late nineteenth century, and his plein air techniques influenced generations of artists. His students include a “Who’s Who” of twentieth-century Texas painters: Alexandre Hogue, Reveau Bassett, and Lucretia Coke, among others. He was an advocate of painting by observation, and encouraged his students to do the same by organizing legendary sketch trips to West Texas. Reaugh also earned the title of Renaissance man by inventing a portable easel that allowed him to paint in high winds, and developing a formula for pastels, which he marketed. A founder of the Dallas Art Society, which became the Dallas Museum of Art, Reaugh was central to Dallas and Oak Cliff artistic circles for many years until infighting and politics drove him out of fashion. He died isolated and poor in 1945. The last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in Reaugh, through gallery shows, exhibitions, and a recent documentary. Despite his importance and this growing public profile, however, Rounded Up in Glory is the first full-length biography. Michael Grauer argues for Reaugh’s importance as more than just a “longhorn painter.” Reaugh’s works and far-reaching imagination earned him a prominent place in the Texas art pantheon.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Grauer, Michael
Partner: UNT Press

State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014

Description: The State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014 report provides a view of the condition of state library administrative agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for Fiscal Year 2014. The data includes state library agency identification, governance, public service hours, service outlets, collections, library service transactions, library development transactions, services to other libraries in the state, allied operations, staff, income, expenditures, and electronic services and information. State libraries administer federal funds through the IMLS Grants to States program and play a crucial role in helping libraries within their state meet the demand for content and services by establishing statewide plans for library services, investing in technology and content, and providing support for local programming. While the state libraries continued to offer a wide array of library services in 2014, the study results showed a multi-year pattern of decreases in revenues, expenditures, and staffing that coincided with the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The revenue from federal, state, and other sources to state library agencies totaled $1.1 billion in FY 2014, a 17 percent decrease in revenue from FY 2004.The report is useful to Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), policymakers in the executive and legislative branches of federal and state governments, government and library administrators at the federal, state, and local levels, the American Library Association and its members or customers, library and public policy researchers, the public, journalists, and others.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Institute of Museum and Library Services (U.S.)
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Johnson-sims Feud: Romeo and Juliet, West Texas Style

Description: In the early 1900s, two families in Scurry and Kent counties in West Texas united in a marriage of fourteen-year-old Gladys Johnson to twenty-one-year-old Ed Sims. Billy Johnson, the father, set up Gladys and Ed on a ranch, and the young couple had two daughters. But Gladys was headstrong and willful, and Ed drank too much, and both sought affection outside their marriage. A nasty divorce ensued, and Gladys moved with her girls to her father’s luxurious ranch house, where she soon fell in love with famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. When Ed tried to take his daughters for a prearranged Christmas visit in 1916, Gladys and her brother Sid shot him dead on the Snyder square teeming with shoppers. One of the best lawyers in West Texas, Judge Cullen Higgins (son of the old feudist Pink Higgins) managed to win acquittal for both Gladys and Sid. In the tradition of Texas feudists since the 1840s, the Sims family sought revenge. Sims’ son-in-law, Gee McMeans, led an attack in Sweetwater and shot Billy Johnson’s bodyguard, Frank Hamer, twice, while Gladys—by now Mrs. Hamer—fired at another assassin. Hamer shot back, killed McMeans, and was no-billed on the spot by a grand jury watching the shootout through a window. An attempt against Billy Johnson failed, but a three-man team shotgunned the widely respected Cullen Higgins. Texas Rangers and other lawmen caught one of the assassins, extracted a confession, and then prompted his “suicide” in a Sweetwater jail cell.
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Date: August 15, 2010
Creator: O'Neal, Bill
Partner: UNT Press

Winchester Warriors: Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901

Description: The Texas Rangers were institutionally birthed in 1874 with the formation of the Frontier Battalion. They were tasked with interdicting Indian incursions into the frontier settlements and dealing with the lawlessness running rampant throughout Texas. In an effort to put a human face on the Rangers, Bob Alexander tells the story of one of the six companies of the Frontier Battalion, Company D. Readers follow the Rangers of Company D as—over time—it transforms from a unit of adventurous boys into a reasonably well-oiled law enforcement machine staffed by career-oriented lawmen. Beginning with their start as Indian fighters against the Comanches and Kiowas, Alexander explores the history of Company D as they rounded up numerous Texas outlaws and cattle thieves, engaged in border skirmishes along the Rio Grande, and participated in notable episodes such as the fence cutter wars. Winchester Warriors is an evenhanded and impartial assessment of Company D and its colorful cadre of Texas Rangers. Their laudable deeds are explored in detail, but by the same token their shameful misadventures are not whitewashed. These Texas Rangers were simply people, good and bad—and sometimes indifferent. This new study, extensively researched in both primary and secondary sources, will appeal to scholars and aficionados of the Texas Rangers and western history.
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Date: August 15, 2009
Creator: Alexander, Bob
Partner: UNT Press