Posted by & filed under 1950s.

On this day in 1917 the United States Congress approved a declaration of war against Germany, thereby officially entering World War I. There are no longer any living veterans of WWI, however, in 1957 reporters with WBAP attended a VFW convention in Dallas where they met L.J. Smith, a 66 year old WWI veteran who was displaying a rather unique souvenir from WWI — a doughnut.

During WWI doughnuts and coffee were distributed along the front lines to soldiers by the Salvation Army, giving rise to the nickname “doughboy” for American soldiers overseas. During one of these coffee breaks Mr. Smith decided to save one of the doughnuts, and miraculously it survived for over 38 years! In this brief film clip he displays the doughnut-artifact under a glass dome.

[News Clip: Doughboy Preserves 1918 Model Doughnut] on The Portal to Texas History.



Posted by & filed under Uncategorised.

Thank you to Special Collections student employee Greg Pierce for finding these scripts! 

Sixty years ago, On April 2, 1957, an F3 tornado laid waste to 60 blocks of west Dallas, in what was then called the “worst storm in Dallas history.” Ten people died, and over 600 people were injured. The tornado created a 21 mile path of destruction, with the hardest hit area being a residential section of Dallas near Record Crossing Road and Riverside Drive where five people lost their lives. During the storm, the tornado moved through north Oak Cliff, crossed Harry Hines Boulevard and demolished warehouses in the Brook Hollow industrial district over a course of 20 minutes.

Original broadcast scripts from the first news WBAP news broadcast to cover the storm reflect both the “breaking news” nature of the event as well as the shock of those who witnessed the storm. In describing the event, the script notes, “There wasn’t any safe place to hide. And very little time for it anyway.” The first page of the script, show below, displays handwritten annotations showing the increase in causalities as well as the locations of other tornado which were recorded in /the north Texas communities of Anna and Melissa that same day.

[News Script: Tornado], April 2, 1957

Read more

Posted by & filed under 1950s, 1970s.

Today we reflect on the struggle for women’s rights as we observe International Women’s Day. We’ve chosen two items from the NBC 5/KXAS archive that reflect women’s history in the DFW region.

First, it might be hard to believe but women were not intentionally called for full-time jury service in the city of Dallas until September 5, 1955. A script in the collection details the historic moment:


And second, a video about a rally held in Dallas on April 1, 1978 (perhaps a not entirely auspicious date) regarding the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the Constitution that guaranteed equal rights for women. The ERA, originally written by suffragettes Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, was first introduced to Congress in 1923 but did not pass both houses of Congress until 1972, when it was then sent to state legislatures for ratification. Texas was among one of the first states to ratify the ERA on March 30, 1972 but the ERA was never placed in the Constitution because a total of three-fourths of US States (38 out of the 50) did not ratify the amendment. There is still hope that the ERA will become part of the Constitution in the future.

[News Clip: ERA Rally] on The Portal to Texas History.

Posted by & filed under 1950s.

Happy Texas Independence Day! Today is the 181st anniversary of the day settlers in the Mexican province of Tejas (Mexican Texas) created the Texas Republic by declaring independence from Mexico.

In honor of our state’s holiday, we invite you to re-visit this script from March 2, 1955, which details the festivities in Dallas that year, on the 119th anniversary. Actors Dorothy Malone, Dale Robertson, Allan Jones, Irene Hervey, Constance Moore, Buddy Rogers and Jon Hall were in attendance at a parade through downtown Dallas. (Links will take you to a listing of the actor’s filmography in the UNT Media Library’s catalog, available for check-out with your UNT ID.)

Hopefully someday soon we’ll be able to share the film segment that accompanies this script!

A script details the festivities in Dallas on Texas Independence Day, 1955

Posted by & filed under 1990s.

The latest American Experience film on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the rise of the “alt-right” in America features footage from the KXAS/NBC 5 Television News Collection. Material from the KXAS/NBC 5 collection supports the film’s section on the 51-day stand-off near Waco, Texas in 1993 between Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and the Branch Dividians religious group. The tragic outcome of what came to be known as “the Waco siege” motivated Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, to seek retribution against the United States government. Oklahoma City is available to watch online. Due to the subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.

A large amount of footage related to the Waco siege has been digitized and is available to view in The Portal to Texas History. A few selections are below:

[News Clip: March 1, 1993] on The Portal to Texas History.

[News Clip: Waco] on The Portal to Texas History.

[News Clip: Waco tonight] March 26, 1993 on The Portal to Texas History.

Posted by & filed under 1970s.

In honor of Super Bowl LI this Sunday, we flash back to January 1978 when the Dallas Cowboys met the Denver Broncos in New Orleans for Super Bowl XII. In the first ever Super Bowl broadcast in prime time, the Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27-10. In this clip, Texas News reporter Karen Parfitt reports on the “super sales” of Dallas Cowboys merchandise in the DFW area. This story aired at 10 PM on January 12, 1978.

[News Clip: Super Sales (Super Bowl)] on The Portal to Texas History.

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

Posted by & filed under 1980s.

Yesterday UNT, along with other state institutions, observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, stated upon the bill’s ratification that “This is not a black holiday; it is a people’s holiday.” Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed for the first time in the United States three years later on January 20, 1986. Many states, including Texas, did not initially observe the paid holiday in 1986. In fact, MLK Day was not observed by every U.S. state until the year 2000. Today some states observe the holiday under a different name (it’s known as “Human Rights Day” in Idaho and “Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Day” in Arizona and New Hampshire) or combine the holiday with memorials for confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Virginia). A recent New York Times article proves that the holiday is still contested more than thirty years after its implementation.

On January 20, 1986, KXAS reporter Ramona Logan reported on Dallas-Forth Worth residents’ reactions to the day for the 6:00 news. Some Texas employees chose to take a vacation day in honor of Dr. King, while others chose to honor his memory through their vocations. Dallas schools closed for the day but Fort Worth schools remained open.

[News Clip: MLK Closings] on The Portal to Texas History.

This footage was rescued from a “U-matic” 3/4 tape. The characteristic image and sound degradation of an aged U-matic tape is apparent in the digital copy, which highlights why this format is a major preservation priority for archivists and librarians.

Further reading:

“A Brief History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.” Time.

Posted by & filed under 1980s.

NBC5 reporter Brad Wright traveled to El Paso,Texas on January 4, 1981 to report on President-elect Ronald Reagan’s meeting with Mexico President Jose Lopez Portilla. This segment was digitized from the original 3/4 inch analog source tape, and shows many examples of tape degradation which interfere with the both the picture and sound quality. Footage recorded onto 3/4 tape, also called “U-matic” tape, often displays significant degradation, and is a major preservation priority for archivists and librarians.Although this footage is severely compromised, it was able to be saved before a total loss.

[News Clip: Reagan/ Portilla] on The Portal to Texas History.

Posted by & filed under 1950s.

Before the widespread adoption of TV in America many people had become accustomed to tuning into their radios for news in addition to the more traditional formats such as newspapers and magazines.In fact, the rise of broadcast television news in the 1940’s was a natural extension of the capabilities built during the war years by the major radio broadcast networks. Surveys conducted at the end of World War II revealed that radio had surpassed print journalism to become the main source of news for many Americans, and radio journalists such as Edward R. Murrow were well respected by the public. Of the four major networks at the time, NBC (National Broadcasting Company) and CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) were the best situated to aggressively seek out local radio stations around the country who were moving into the new field of television to join them as affiliates. In 1946 publisher Amon G. Carter filed permits with the Federal Communications Commission for construction of a television station in Fort Worth, Texas. Carter, already a legend in the publishing world, had been successfully operating the Fort-Worth Star Telegram newspaper since 1909 and a major NBC affiliated radio station, WBAP, since 1922. His new television station, WBAP-TV, also NBC affiliated, aired its first broadcast on September 27, 1948. WBAP was the first television station in Texas and the only television station in the entire southwest region of the country at that time.


For over 65 years the station, which was was renamed NBC 5/KXAS in 1974 following its sale to LIN broadcasting, continued to broadcast programming from their original location in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2012 the station began construction of a new $16 million facility centrally located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and in early 2014 the station began broadcasting from their new location. News programming at NBC 5/KXAS has grown over the years from a daily 15 minute news reel in the 1950’s to multiple daily news broadcasts by the 1970’s. The station continued to be a leader in local television news by becoming the first station in Texas to feature all-color news film in 1966, and was the first station in the country to produce a monthly “news magazine” featuring in-depth, documentary style reporting.

The real innovation of WBAP and later NBC 5/KXAS was in the high quality content of their news reporting. During the 1950’s and 1960’s most local affiliate stations focused on live entertainment programming featuring dancers or musical performers which did not require the expense of investment in costly film technology. Furthermore many local affiliates believed that they would only be duplicating the efforts of radio and newspaper journalists in creating news programming, so they simply replied on summaries of wire reports to provide viewers with the news. In contrast, WBAP featured news reporting from across the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area ranging from crime, politics and current events to public interest even novelty reporting. News film from WBAP was broadcast nightly as early as 1951 (and perhaps earlier, although no footage from the years 1948-1950 was retained) in a 15 minute program called, “The Texas News.” This early news format featured five to eight short news segments with live in-studio narration read from a prepared script. Most of the footage itself was silent, with sound on film occurring only for brief interviews.

By 1952 it is estimated that 32% of homes had a television set, which means that in a metroplex of over 1,100,000 people at that time, as many as 350,000 people could have been tuning in to watch the nightly local news. There is evidence which also suggests that new film produced by KXAS was selectively compiled and distributed as newsreels throughout the state. An example of a KXAS news reel located in the Library of Congress features several stories from November 1954 with narration and music added to the film which does not appear in the regular news broadcast.  


Unprocessed news film in the NBC5/KXAS Archive


Unprocessed news film in the NBC5/KXAS Archive

A typical 15 minute news reel from the earliest extant footage in the WBAP archive contains coverage reminiscent of what today might be called “hyperlocal” news. College and high school sports, meetings of fraternal and service organizations and city council meetings were events commonly included in news coverage. Public interest stories were covered as well– one memorable segment from 1951 included dramatic footage of a horse being lifted from an abandoned well. (The horse, named Major, was returned to pasture unharmed.) Although news coverage may have focused on local news events, it would be a mistake to assume that this coverage has no larger significance. In the decade following World War II the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex experienced tremendous population growth fueled by the thousands of jobs available in the area. This growth however, also placed strain on many of the communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who suddenly felt the approach of “big city problems” into their small town lives. Secondly, as one of the largest metropolitan areas in the county, the experiences of people here are a microcosm of the issues which faced the nation at large including civil rights struggles of the 1950’s.This news segment from 1956, which features a story on the integration of an all-white Fort Worth neighborhood, is an example of the significant footage included in the collection.

[News Clip: Ft. Woth City Council ; No Negroes Enroll at Wichita Falls] on The Portal to Texas History.

Posted by & filed under 1970s.

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.