Skip to main content

Owens, William A., 1905-1990



Born to Charles and Jessie Ann (Chenault) Owens in Pin Hook, Texas, folklorist William A. Owens (1905-1990) was raised on cotton farms throughout Texas. He graduated from East Texas State Teachers College in Commerce in the late 1920s. Receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Methodist University in 1932 and 1933, respectively, Owens earned a Ph.D. from the State University of Iowa, writing his dissertation on Texas folk songs. While teaching at Texas A & M University (1937-1947), he took leave to serve in the U. S. Army’s 306th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment in the Philippines, for which he received the Legion of Merit. From 1947 until retirement in 1974, he served Columbia University as Professor in the English Department (1966-1974), Director of the Summer Session (1959-1969), and Dean of the Summer Session (1969-1972). Additionally, Owens was director of the Oral History of the Texas Oil Industry Project at the University of Texas at Austin from 1952 to 1958, during which time he also interviewed academics on related topics, including naturalist Roy Bedichek, folklorist J. Frank Dobie, and historian Walter Prescott Webb.


Inventory of the William A. Owens Papers (Part One): 1922-1979. Cushing Library, University Libraries, Texas A & M University. Accessed April 6, 2011.

Oral History of the Texas Oil Industry Collection, 1952-1958, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. Accessed April 7, 2011.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Roy Bedichek papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00011

Roy Bedichek (1878-1959) was a naturalist, educator, writer, and director of the University (of Texas) Interscholastic League from 1914-1948. The Roy Bedichek Papers, 1897-1959, 2003, document his studies of ornithology, botany, wildlife, and conservation, history and philosophy and include literary productions, correspondence, and business records.

Dates: circa 1880-1960; 2003

William A. Owens oral history transcripts

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.02566

The William A. Owens Oral History Transcripts, 1953, contains eight transcripts of interviews and conversations conducted by William A. Owens with naturalist Roy Bedichek, historian Walter Prescott Webb, and folklorist J. Frank Dobie from July and August 1953. The interviewees discuss growing up in Texas, their careers as educators, their associations with the University of Texas at Austin, and other experiences.

Dates: 1953

UT Folklore Center archives

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00385

The UT Folklore Center Archives was established in 1957 and includes recordings collected by folklorists such as John A. Lomax, William A. Owens, John Henry Faulk, Norman McNeil, and Américo Paredes.

Dates: circa 1928-1981

Additional filters:

Naturalists 2
Texas--Austin 2
Anthropology 1
Architecture 1
Art 1