Scope and Contents
This collection consists of one video from which were made two DVDs, one of which is marked as the master copy while the second is for public viewing. The video appears to be a copy of a film showing oil-drilling related activities of the Gilcrease Oil Company in East Texas centering on the East Texas Oil Field near the Texas towns of Longview and Gladewater. The video, which is silent with English and French titles, shows drilling rigs, derrick construction, oil gushers, burning oil, flaring gas, and transportation in the late 1920s or early 1930s.
The video is a reproduction of a film possibly made in the late 1920s or early 1930s during the oil boom associated with the East Texas Oil Field. The origin and the purpose of the film is unknown, but, because the titles are in French and English it may have been produced for Gilcrease Oil as a marketing tool to attract European investors.
The image quality is poor, but suitable for viewing. The content of the video is divided into 23 segments with the beginning of each segment marked by titles in white lettering on black backgrounds. The titles are in English and French. Four oil and gas leases are depicted: Christian, Fenton, Tooke, and Cowder, all of which appear to have been owned or operated by Gilcrease Oil, because of Gilcrease signage in the video.
The video shows early gas traps, gushers, flowing oil, burning oil and burning natural gas. Early means of transportation are also depicted, including trucks slogging through axle deep mud on East Texas roads and mule-drawn and horse-drawn wagons hauling pipe or road-building materials. Drilling operations are shown including the process of building derricks, removing drilling equipment, pulling pipe, and an on-site refinery and casing head gasoline plant.
The video shows views of two booming East Texas towns complete with traffic jams. The towns depicted are Longview, located 125 miles east of Dallas, and Gladewater, 13 miles west of Longview. Both towns are associated with the East Texas Oil Field. “The East Texas oilfield, located in central Gregg, western Rusk, southern Upshur, southeastern Smith, and northeastern Cherokee counties in the east central part of the state, is the largest and most prolific oil reservoir in the contiguous United States. Since its discovery on October 5, 1930, some 30,340 wells have been drilled within its 140,000 acres to yield nearly 5.2 billion barrels of oil from a stratigraphic trap in the Eagle Ford-Woodbine group of the Cretaceous.” Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "EAST TEXAS OILFIELD," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/EE/doe1.html (accessed January 6, 2005).
This material is open for research.
Conditions Governing Access
Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.
Conditions Governing Access
This material has been digitized and is available online in Rice University's Institutional Repository: https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/78035
Permission to publish from the Gilcrease Oil Company, East Texas "Early Days" video, MS 503, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
The Gilcrease Oil Company was organized in Oklahoma in 1918 with a charter issued in 1922 naming Thomas Gilcrease as president, according to David Randolph Milsten's book titled Thomas Gilcrease, which was published in 1969 in San Antonio by the Naylor Co. By 1940, Gilcrease had moved the company to San Antonio and changed the name to Gilcrease Oil Company of Texas. Before 1929, Gilcrease traveled to Paris in search for investors
However, the founder Thomas Gilcrease is perhaps best known as a famous art collector and benefactor whose generous donation to the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma led to the creation of the Gilcrease Museum, which is known for art realted to the American west.
Gilcrease Oil had offices in San Antonio, Texas, and at least one office in Europe. The History of Thomas Gilcrease. (2003). Gilcrease: The Museum of the Americas. Retrieved January 7, 2005 from http://www.gilcrease.org/.
Regarding the Texas towns featured in the video, Longview and Gladewater, both towns experienced phenomenal growth as a result of the oil boom. This video depicts lengthy footage of downtown Longview and Gladewater. In each town, the streets are jammed with pedestrians and automobiles. The Handbook of Texas states about Longview that, “The discovery of the rich East Texas oilfield in the early 1930s, however, saved the town from the harsh economic effects of the Great Depression. Located several miles outside the oilfield, Longview was spared the worst aspects of boomtown chaos but was able to capitalize on its position as the established business center and governmental seat of Gregg County. The city was transformed from a sleepy cotton, lumber, and railroad town populated largely by natives to a thriving commercial and industrial city dominated by mostly Southern newcomers. The population more than doubled during the 1930s, to 13,758 in 1940.” Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "LONGVIEW, TX," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/LL/hdl3.html (accessed January 6, 2005).
Gladewater also experienced explosive growth as a result of the oil boom. “On April 7, 1931, the first Gladewater oil well blew in. It was located one mile outside town in the Sabine River bottom. Oil production led to a population increase during the 1930s from about 500 persons to around 8,000. Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "GLADEWATER, TX," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/GG/hfg5.html (accessed January 6, 2005).
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Language of Materials