Joe Bertram Frantz

Joe Bertram Frantz (January 16, 1917 – November 16, 1993) was a historian from the U.S. state of Texas who specialized in the American West.

Joe Bertram Frantz
Born(1917-01-16)January 16, 1917
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 16, 1993(1993-11-16) (aged 76)
Houston, Texas
Resting placeTexas State Cemetery in Austin
OccupationHistorian at University of Texas at Austin and Corpus Christi State University
SpouseFour marriages
ChildrenTwo daughters from first marriage (1939-1979) to former Helen Andrews Boswell
Fourth wife, Betsy Chadderdon Frantz (1990-1993, his death)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
ThesisNewspapers of the Republic of Texas
Doctoral advisorWalter Prescott Webb
Other advisorsEugene C. Barker, William C. Binkly
Academic work
EraRepublic of Texas
Sub-disciplineAmerican history, Texas history
  • University of Texas

Early lifeEdit

Joe Bertram Frantz was born on January 16, 1917 in Dallas. He was an adopted son of Ezra A. Frantz and the Mary (Buckley) Frantz who reared him in Weatherford, Texas. In 1934, he graduated from Weatherford High School.[1]

Frantz attended the University of Texas at Austin and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Master of Arts in history there, with the thesis entitled "The newspapers of the Republic of Texas".[2] During his undergraduate tenure at UT, he was a staff member of the Daily Texan newspaper, a member of the Rusk Literary Society, and the Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Honor Society.[3] His first job was as acting advisor and archivist at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site east of Houston, Texas.


After earning a degree in journalism at the University of Texas, Frantz worked as reporter and also worked for his father. Before long, however, returned to the University of Texas and entered a master's program in history. His thesis advisors were Eugene C. Barker and William C. Binkly. In 1840, he completed his thesis titled, "The Newspapers of the Republic of Texas."[4]

In 1943, Frantz joined the United States Navy during World War II. A lieutenant, he was involved in eight engagements as a communications officer in the South Pacific.[5]

In 1948, Frantz earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas with the dissertation entitled "Infinite pursuit: the story of Gail Borden", a study of the inventor of condensed milk.[6]

With his highest degree in hand, Frantz was then invited to join the University of Texas faculty as an assistant professor. He was elevated in 1953 to associate professor and in 1959 to full professor. In 1959, with Julian E. Choate, he co-authored The American Cowboy: The Myth and the Reality.[1]

During the 1960s, 1970s, and into the 1980s, Frantz continued to teach history while serving on many boards. He was president of the Southwestern Social Science Association (1963), Southern Historical Association (1977–1978), and the Western History Association, (1978–1979). From 1964, he was an advisory board member of the National Park Service for two decades. He was a commissioner for the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Texas (1975–1979). He directed the Texas State Historical Association for a decade, leading to the completion of the Volume 3 of the Handbook of Texas in 1976.[7]

Frantz proposed a oral history project to Lyndon Baines Johnson near the end of his presidency. After the President approved of the project and pledged his cooperation, Frantz managed a team of oral historians to record interviews with Johnson, his wife, and many associates of the President. From 1968 until 1974, the Lyndon B. Johnson Oral History Project conducted about 700 interviews. Michael Gillette took over management of the project and added about 500 interviews. Biographers such as Merle Miller, Robert Dallek, and Robert Caro relied on these oral histories to research their books.[8]

After his retirement from the University of Texas, Frantz joined the faculty at Corpus Christi State University in Corpus Christi, Texas, now known as Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.[5] While teaching in Corpus Christi, he completed two books. One was a memoir of the University of Texas, The Forty-Acre Follies (1983), which was recognized by the Southwestern Booksellers Association as "best nonfiction Texas book of the year. He co-authored a book with Mike Cox about the settlement of Texas titled, Lure of the Land: Texas County Maps and the History of Settlement. The Texas Historical Commission recognized this book with its Fehrenbach Award.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1939, Frantz married Weatherford, Texas native, Helen Andrews Boswell. They had two daughters.[1]


n November 23, 1993, Frantz died at Hermann Hospital in Houston due to complications from diabetes.[10] He is interred at Texas State Cemetery in Austin.[5]


Frantz published academic books, journal articles, school textbooks, and popular histories,[11]


  • Gail Borden, Dairyman to a Nation. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951.
  • (with Julian Ernest Choate). The American Cowboy: The Myth and the Reality. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.
  • (with David G. McComb) Houston, a Students' Guide to Localized History. New York: Teachers College Press, 1971.
  • The Driskill Hotel. Austin: Encino Press, 1973.
  • Texas: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1976.
    • later version published as Texas, a History. New York: W.W. Norton, 1984.
  • The Forty-Acre Follies. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1983. (history of the University of Texas)
  • Texas History Movies: The Story of the Lone Star State. Dallas, Texas: Pepper Jones Martinez, Inc, 1985. ISBN 9780935759006
  • (with Mike Cox, and Roger A. Griffin) Lure of the Land: Texas County Maps and the History of Settlement. College Station, for the Texas: Texas General Land Office by Texas A&M University Press, 1988.

Juvenile booksEdit

  • Texas and Its History. Dallas: Pepper Jones Martinez, 1978.
  • (with James B. Kracht) Texas: The Study of Our State. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 1988.
    • also published in Spanish as Texas, estudio de nuestro estado


  1. ^ a b c McComb, David G. "Joe Bertram Frantz". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Frantz, Joe Bertram (June 2, 1940). The newspapers of the Republic of Texas. OCLC 23470124 – via Open WorldCat.
  3. ^ Cactus Yearbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas. 1940. p. 42.
  4. ^ McComb (2013), p. 212.
  5. ^ a b c "Joe Bertram Frantz". Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  6. ^ McComb, David G (June 2, 2001). Travels with Joe, 1917-1993: the life story of a historian from Texas. Texas State Historical Association. OCLC 45446261 – via Open WorldCat.
  7. ^ McComb (2013), p. 216.
  8. ^ McComb (2013), 217–219.
  9. ^ McComb (2013), p. 220.
  10. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (November 18, 1993). "Joe B. Frantz, 76, Texas Historian And Author With Ties to Johnson". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  11. ^ "Frantz, Joe Bertram 1917-1993 []".