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John Henry Faulk papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00010

Scope and Contents

Composed of correspondence, literary productions, lectures, transcripts, audiovisual recordings, diaries and journals, scrapbooks, notebooks, research files, campaign files, printed materials, photographs, awards, drawings, and paintings, the John Henry Faulk Papers, 1881, 1936-2010, document the life and career of folklorist, humorist, lecturer, and civil liberties activist John Henry Faulk. Correspondence includes personal and general letters with family, friends, business associates, politicians, and academics, such as Hamilton Faulk, Texana Faulk Conn, Ralph Yarborough, J. Frank Dobie, and Cactus Pryor. Literary productions is composed of drafts of his books Fear on Trial (1963) and The Uncensored John Henry Faulk (1985) as well as his thesis Ten Negro Sermons (1940). Diaries and journals recount Faulk's experiences during the course of his libel suit, his trips to Israel and Vietnam, his thoughts on African American folklore, and his time in the military. Printed material, newspaper clippings, and notes document Faulk's entertainment career, lectures, public appearances, trip to Cuba, and environmental, nuclear, and political issues.

Comprising VHS, DVD, LP, CD, and audiocassette formats, audiovisual recordings consist of television, radio, and oral history interviews given by or about Faulk; speeches by Faulk; and collected recordings of folklorist Alan Lomax, radio broadcaster Cactus Pryor, writer J. Frank Dobie, and country musician Willie Nelson. Research files pertain to the environment, politics, Watergate, Vietnam, the Middle East, the U.S. Constitution, civil liberties, the national budget, the Trinity River Authority, and several politicians, businessmen, academics, and entertainers. Photographs depict trips to Israel and Vietnam, award ceremonies, political events, lectures on college and university campuses, publicity photos, and Faulk with family and friends. In general, awards in the form of plaques, certificates, and proclamations honor his role as a defender of civil liberties, particularly the First Amendment. Drawings and paintings portray Faulk, Cactus Pryor, Gov. John Connally, J.R. Parten, and Faulk Farm.


  • Creation: 1881
  • Creation: 1936 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

For preservation concerns, original materials are restricted. A photocopy or microfilm copy is provided for patron use.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical Note

Folklorist, humorist, lecturer, and civil rights activist John Henry Faulk (1913-1990) was born to parents Henry and Martha (Miner) in Austin, Texas. A protégé of J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek, Faulk graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where he later taught English. For his master's thesis, he analyzed 10 African American sermons, and his research greatly impacted his thinking on civil liberties. Aided by his friend and fellow folklorist Alan Lomax, Faulk entered the entertainment industry in 1946, hosting various radio shows for WCBS in New York City. In 1957, the right-wing organization AWARE, Inc., blacklisted Faulk for alleged communist associations and sympathies. Subsequently, he filed and won a libel suit against the company and anti-communist activists Vincent Hartnett and Laurence A. Johnson. In 1963, Faulk published a memoir of his blacklisting experience entitled Fear on Trial, which in 1975 CBS dramatized, starring William Devane as Faulk and George C. Scott as his attorney, Louis Nizer. Despite being vindicated by the jury, Faulk was unable to gain meaningful employment in the entertainment industry until 1975, when he joined the cast of Hee-Haw. He wrote and produced two one-man plays, Deep in the Heart (1986) and Pear Orchard, Texas (1988), to highlight humanity's best and worst traits.

Beginning in the 1970s, Faulk lectured extensively about civil liberties on college and university campuses. Campaigning on his passion for the U.S. Constitution, the environment, and the common man, he unsuccessfully ran against Phil Gramm for a U.S. House of Representatives in Texas in 1983. Faulk married his former student Harriet Hally Wood in 1940. The couple had one daughter, Cynthia, before divorcing. In 1948, he married Lynne Smith, with whom he had three children: Evelyn, Johanna, and Frank Dobie. After divorcing Lynne, Faulk married Elizabeth Liz Peake in 1965, and they had one child, John Henry Johan III. He was close friends with Austin television and radio broadcaster, Richard Cactus Pryor, and was a mentor to journalist and activist, Molly Ivins. Faulk died of cancer in 1990.


Foshee, Page S. Faulk, John Henry. Handbook of Texas Online.


85 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The John Henry Faulk Papers, 1881, 1936-2010, document Faulk's career in literary and broadcast media, as well as his activities in politics, humanitarian concerns, and civil liberties, particularly his successful libel suit after having been blacklisted for alleged Communist associations.

Accession Number(s)

1982-211; 1987-052; 1987-083; 1988-184; 1988-186; 1989-063; 1989-171; 1989-212; 1989-256; 1989-316; 1989-324; 1989-345; 1990-092; 1990-127; 1990-143; 1990-154; 1990-200; 1990-210; 1990-216; 1990-217; 1990-246; 1990-298; 1990-331; 1991-006; 1991-016; 1991-041; 1991-042; 1991-043; 1991-155; 1991-207; 1991-295; 1992-083; 1992-164; 1992-236; 1992-237; 1992-288; 1993-006; 1993-028; 1993-042; 1993-092; 1993-252; 1993-274; 1993-467; 1993-491; 1994-031; 1994-134; 1994-148; 1994-256; 1995-132; 1995-153; 1995-169; 1995-207; 1996-155; 1997-081; 1997-135; 1997-337; 1997-367; 1999-044; 1999-193; 2000-029; 2000-216; 2001-214; 2002-021; 2002-146; 2005-044; 2006-174; 2007-221; 2008-195; 2008-255; 2010-317; 2014-216; 2015-107; 2016-119

Separated Materials

Some material has been separated to the Material Culture and Briscoe Center Library units.

OCLC Number


Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mattie Sink, July 1989-1990.

Subsequent revisions were made by Shelly Rowland, November 2008; Evan Usler, January 2011; Mark Firmin, January 2012; Justin Kovar, July 2012; Paloma Graciani Picardo, May 2016; Colleen Hobbs, October 2019 and November 2020; and Emma Trent, March 2022.

John Henry Faulk Papers, 1881, 1936-2010
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Revision Statements

  • May 2016: Accession 2016-119 added by Paloma Graciani Picardo
  • July 2012: Edited by Justin Kovar to add film location
  • January 2012: Edited and revised by Mark Firmin
  • November 2008: Edited by Shelley Rowland
  • April 19, 2007: Major reformatting by Evan Hocker
  • Tue Jul 22 15:26:03 CDT 2003: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00010 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (20030505).
  • 6-17-2019: After review of 3Y219e inventory, the description for this VHS was deleted: "Two Lone Stars, behind the scenes, 1984; “Alternative Views” “Running for Congress,” 1983; John Henry Faulk on various shows promoting University of Texas Press edition of Fear On Trial; “Freeman Reports,” John Henry Faulk, Roy Cohn, and others; “Nightline,” 1985; “CBS Morning News,” John Henry Faulk with Ring Lardner, Jr., Bill Kurtis, and others, 1984." This VHS is found in box 3Y286. This description was added for box 3Y219e: "Television interviews for The Uncensored John Henry Faulk"; Newscast: Gary Witte project; Emmett Shelton, Sr. Party, 1989.
  • 3-31-2022: items rehoused from TXC collection and inventory added by Emmas Trent, 2022-03-31

Repository Details

Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

2300 Red River Street
Austin TX 78712