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Brown & Root / George R. Brown Executive Files

Identifier: MS 488
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this material consists of business records of the Brown & Root firm and the Brown Shipbuilding Co., relating in particular to building projects and joint ventures with other companies as well as internal operations of the firm. Formats include correspondence, internal memos, project site drawings, photographs, reports, notes, and newsclippings.

Some specific projects include various international airbases, Marshall Ford Dam, Pedernales River Electric Cooperative, City of Houston roads and water, Rice Institute, Mohole Project, and many others. Correspondents include individuals and other companies such as ARMCO Steel, Construction Management & Engineering Associates (CMEA), Harlan Inc., Pre-stressed Concrete Products, Inc., Southland Paper Mills, Inc., Texas Eastern Transmission Corp, Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., and the U.S. Navy and Dept. of Defense.

Folder titles are original Brown & Root titles.


  • 1937-1978

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the Brown & Root / George R. Brown Executive Files must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Organizational Sketch

In 1914, native Texan Herman Brown was given eighteen mules in lieu of back wages for construction work done in his hometown of Belton, which he used to enter the construction business on his own. In 1919 his brother-in-law, Dan Root, advanced him money for working capital, and the company was named Brown and Root, Incorporated. In 1922 Herman's younger brother, George Rufus Brown, joined the firm. Dan Root, a prosperous Central Texas cotton farmer, died in 1929. The paving of dirt roads and building of steel bridges for municipal and county governments in Central Texas led the firm to a successful joint bid in 1936 to construct the Marshall Ford Dam (now Mansfield Dam) on the Colorado River. A 1940 contract to construct the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station was the first of their big federal war projects. The brothers formed the Brown Shipbuilding Company in 1942 and constructed more than 350 vessels for the navy. The shipyard had a labor force of 25,000 and won the Army-Navy E and a presidential citation.

After World War II the Brown brothers and other investors purchased the Big and Little Inch pipelines from the government with the winning high bid of $143 million and organized a new company, Texas Eastern Transmission Company, which is now a part of Panhandle Eastern Corporation. Brown and Root was widely known during the 1950s and 1960s for constructing United States air and naval bases (in Spain, France, and Guam) and roads, dams, bridges, petrochemical plants, and large offshore drilling platforms. In 1961 the company won the planning contract for the $200 million Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.

Herman Brown died on November 15, 1962, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.Brown was a cofounder of the Brown Foundation. He was a member of the board of directors of First City National Bank of Houston, Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, Southwestern University, Armco Steel Corporation, and Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. He was also active in oil and gas exploration and ranching.

After the death of his brother Herman in 1962, George became president of Brown and Root. Later that year the corporation was sold to the Halliburton Company.

In December 1962 the Halliburton Company of Dallas purchased Brown and Root, which continues to operate under its own name. Halliburton's significant acquisition of Brown and Root of Houston in 1962 gained for the company the sort of subsudiaries that heretofore had been missing: industrial and marine engineering and construction firms. At the time of acquisition Brown and Root had annual revenues of $5.5 billion.

George R. Brown served as a director of the Halliburton Company, Armco Steel Corporation, Louisiana Land and Exploration Company, International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, Trans-World Airlines, Southland Paper Company, First City Bancorporation, and Highland Oil Company. He served on important commissions for presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, and was appointed to commissions for the state of Texas, from the 1930s under Governor James Allred to the 1970s under Governor Dolph Briscoe. He was a well-known friend and visible supporter of Lyndon B. Johnson throughout his political career. He was the recipient of many honors during his lifetime, including Awards from Rice University, Colorado School of Mines, Southwestern University, and the University of Texas. He received several awards in construction and engineering, including the John Fritz Medal in 1977 from the five national engineering societies, and the American Petroleum Institute Gold Medal.

Brown served as chairman of the board of trustees of Rice University for fifteen years of his twenty-five years of service on the board. In 1951 the Brown brothers and their wives established the Brown Foundation, through which they pursued a strong and generous interest in philanthropy. By June 30, 1994, the foundation had granted more than $381 million to charitable institutions, primarily in higher education and the arts. In 1925 Brown married Alice Nelson Pratt of Lometa, Texas, who became well-known for her support for the arts at the local, state, and national levels. They had three children. Brown died on January 22, 1983, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.

"BROWN, GEORGE RUFUS." and "BROWN, HERMAN". The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Mon Jul 14 12:01:07 US/Central 2003 ].


24 Linear Feet (46 boxes)

0.768 Gigabytes (Nearline access: MS0488aip_001 (0.768 GB))


The bulk of this material consists of business records of the Brown & Root firm and Brown Shipbuilding Co., relating in particular to building projects and joint ventures with other companies such as Zapata Offshore, Texas Gulf Sulphur and ARMCO Steel, as well as internal operations of the firm. Formats include correspondence, internal memos, project site drawings, photographs, reports, notes, and newsclippings.

Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged in the following five series:


  1. Series I: Brown & Root Subject Files, 1939-1978, bulk 1950s, (18.5 feet, 37 boxes).
  2. Series II: Brown & Root Legal Files, 1937-1961, (0.5 linear ft., 1 box).
  3. Series III: Brown & Root General Office Files, 1955-70, (1.75 linear ft., 3 boxes).
  4. Series IV: Herman Brown Personal Correspondence, 1960-61 (0.25 linear ft., 2 folders).
  5. Series V: Brown Shipbuilding Company Files, 1939-1950, (3 linear ft., 5 boxes).

Custodial History

This material was formerly housed in the Information Resource Center of Kellogg Brown & Root.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Halliburton, 1999.


No future additions are expected for this material.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital files in archival information package format (MS0488aip_001) on nearline server. Contact for access.

Related Materials

See also MS 464, Builders: Herman & George R. Brown Book Research Files.

Digital Scholarship Archive

Portions of this collection are available online at
Guide to the Brown & Root / George R. Brown Executive Files, 1937-1978
Amanda Focke
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA