In 1978, the Vann family invited KXAS reporter Bobbie Wygant into their Denton home to view their four Christmas trees with decorations inspired by the writings of Charles Dickens.The story aired on Christmas Day 1978.

Dr. J. Don Vann, a noted Dickens scholar who is active in Dickens fan communities, taught in the University of North Texas English department for over 30 years. In 1987, Dr. Vann and his wife Dolores founded a Denton branch of the Dickens Fellowship, an organization that began in London in 1902. Today there are forty-seven Dickens Fellowship branches in ten countries. After he retired from UNT, Dr. Vann and Dolores established the Vann Victorian Endowment to support the purchase of Victorian literature by UNT Special Collections. Over the years the Vanns have made many generous gifts to UNT Special Collections from their personal collection of Dickens works, as well as other Victorian-era authors. UNT Special Collections exhibited materials from the Vann Victorian Collection in Fall 2014. Some of the books seen in this video are now part of the Vann Victorian collection at UNT!

The Vanns have lived in their 1927 Georgian-style home on West Oak Street in Denton since 1967. The Vann’s home is believed to have been one of the first in Denton to have air-conditioning. The home’s original ductwork contained a space for a block of ice, allowing for the circulation of cool air by the furnace fan. This system was replaced with a more modern air-conditioning system in the 1950s. Dolores Vann was instrumental in establishing the Oak-Hickory Historic District after she and her neighbors witnessed threats to Denton’s historic homes in favor of proposed multifamily dwellings. July 27, 2014 was named “Dolores Vann Day” by Chris Watts, Denton Mayor, in appreciation of Mrs. Vann’s historic preservation efforts.

This video was recently transferred from the original 3/4 inch magnetic media (also called Umatic tape) used to record this segment. Video in the KXAS collection from the time period between 1977-1986 is particularly at risk due to the fragile nature of the video and the obsolescence of the equipment needed for playback and digitization. In this video you will see that the picture quality has significantly degraded and the top quarter of the viewing area is partially distorted. Although there has been loss to the image quality, we were successfully able to save this video before it was too late. As more time passes however, it will be harder and harder to recover videos like this.


This is a more recent image of Don and Dolores from 2014, as we prepared for the Vann Victorian exhibition.



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