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The University of Texas at Austin


In Memoriam: T.R. Fehrenbach

December 4, 2013

T.R. Fehrenbach; photo by Jennifer Whitney.
T.R. Fehrenbach

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin pays tribute to Texas author and historian T.R. Fehrenbach. The center is home to the T.R. Fehrenbach Papers.

Fehrenbach's many books include Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans (1968, 1999). Widely regarded as a classic historical account, the book is used in college courses and has been adapted into a PBS mini-series. Fehrenbach was a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and was previously chair of the Texas Historical Commission, serving for three terms between 1983 and 2001.

Born in San Benito, Texas, in 1925, Fehrenbach's family moved first to Brownsville and later to California, where he graduated from Hollywood High School at the age of 16. Fehrenbach served in World War II (which interrupted his studies at Princeton University) and later in the Korean War. After military service he started an insurance company in San Antonio and began his writing career in earnest.

His experiences in Korea as a platoon leader, company commander and intelligence officer led to the publication of This Kind of War (1963). The book remains in high esteem by the military; a portion of it is included in the U.S. Military Academy text Introduction to the Military Profession. In addition to Lone Star and This Kind of War, Fehrenbach also published Fire And Blood: A History Of Mexico (1973) and Comanches: The Destruction of a People (1974).

The T.R. Fehrenbach Papers document his activity as an author and historian. They include research notes; personal ephemera; scrapbooks; materials related to business dealings; photographs; pre-publication typescripts with extensive handwritten corrections; audio-visual material; and professional correspondence with well-known Texans such as Gov. William Hobby, Gov. William Clements, Sen. John Tower, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Miss Ima Hogg.

A finding aid for the Fehrenbach Papers can be found at: The Fehrenbach Papers were part of the center's "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Researchers working with center collections now have access to over 1,600 finding aids online, including the Fehrenbach Papers. Previously these collections only had print finding aids available in the center's reading room.