Memories of J. Frank Dobie and
Walter Prescott Webb
A Personal Reflection on Walter Prescott Webb andJ. Frank Dobie
DORMAN H. WINFREY*
T HE YEAR 1888 WAS WITNESS TO A NUMBER OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN
Texas and the world. Queen Victoria was on the throne in En-
gland, and William II became emperor of Germany. The Pasteur Insti-
tute was founded in Paris, and slavery was abolished in Brazil. Benja-
min Harrison defeated President Grover Cleveland in the presidential
election that fall, George Eastman perfected his box camera, Frederick
Haynes Newell began his federal survey of the arid regions of the West
(an important source for Webb's The Great Plains), and the National Geo-
graphic Society was founded in Washington. In Texas, the State Capi-
tol was dedicated, the Jaybird-Woodpecker War began in Fort Bend
County, Amelia E. Barr published Remember the Alamo! and Walter
Prescott Webb (April 3) and J. Frank Dobie (September 26) were born.
Fifty-three years later, when I met them, they were among the best-
known faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin.
I first met Dr. Walter Prescott Webb and Mr. J. Frank Dobie in Austin
on April 19, 1941, at the second annual meeting of the Junior Histo-
rians. Llerena B. Friend, then a history teacher from Wichita Falls, pre-
sided at the morning session in the Crystal Ball Room of the Driskill
Hotel, and the luncheon took place in the Main Ball Room of the Texas
Union Building on the University of Texas campus. Dr. Webb presided
at the noon gathering, and Mr. Dobie presented the awards for the Ju-
nior Historian Writing Contest. He also gave a beautiful talk on Indian
paintbrushes, blooming in profusion that spring. Tours that afternoon
were conducted by W. Eugene Hollon.
Dr. Webb, father of the Junior Historian movement, had reported in
the "Texas Collection" of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly (October
1939) that "plans are being perfected for the organization of a Junior
*Dorman Winfrey, former director and librarian of the Texas State Library, is the secretary
of the Texas Philosophical Society.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed September 4, 2015.