Notes and Documents
From Commerce to History: Robert Runyon's
Postcards of the Lower Rio Grande Valley
and Brownsville, 1910-1z926
R OBERT RUNYON (1881-1968) IS CURRENTLY BEST KNOWN TO HISTO-
rians for his unique and extensive photographic record of the Mexi-
can Revolution and the many bandit raids and other conflicts that
occurred along the border between the United States and Mexico from
1913 to 1916. While these images are justly regarded as a major re-
source, it is likely that the average citizens of his region-and indeed the
nation--were more familiar with the postcards he produced and sold to
the resident, military, and tourist markets of Brownsville and Mata-
moros, and adjacent communities in Texas and Mexico. Many of these
cards portrayed favorably the various agricultural, social, and commer-
cial aspects of the area.
This article offers a detailed discussion of Runyon's postcards in the
context of his business dealings and conditions as they existed in 90o9,
when he relocated to Brownsville, and subsequently in the Lower Rio
Grande Valley of Texas. As such, it proposes another avenue for scholars
to study both business history and popular culture at this critical period
in the development of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Once a sparsely populated region of ranches and a single urban settle-
ment focusing on the military post at Fort Brown, the Rio Grande Valley
at the turn of the century was poised on the brink of an era of dramatic
* Linda Peterson is Photography Services Coordinator at the Center for American HIstory,
University of Texas at Austin. She wishes to thank Robert Runyon's son, Delbert Runyon, for his
generous assistance on this project.
VOL. CII, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 1998
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed July 26, 2014.