The Hill College W.R. Auvenshine Library at the Hill County Campus in Hillsboro was recently awarded $13,236 in grant funding, under the TexTreasures Grant program.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and The Texas State Library & Archives Commission. 

The library will provide digitization and public access to the Light Crust Doughboys Archives beginning Oct. 1. Patrons will be able to view the collection digitally through the library’s catalog and be able to search the collection using the finding aids on the LibGuide pages. 

The public is invited to see the collection on permanent display at the library from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays at 112 Lamar Drive in Hillsboro. 

“This makes a great piece of Texas music history accessible for generations to come,” Library assistant and grant writer Eve Bowen.

The library will create access to the collection by cataloging and preserving the papers of the long-time Light Crust Doughboy’s band leader, Marvin “Smokey” Montgomery, and other members of the 88-year-old band. 

This growing, unique hidden collection includes music, photos, correspondence, ephemera and artifacts, including items and correspondence once belonging to historical figures like W. Lee O’Daniel, former governor of Texas. 

It is a multi-year project to digitize, catalog and create a finding aid for researchers to use this rare collection and a permanent home for the traveling exhibit now in storage. This project will give access to a slice of previously unavailable Texas music history.

There is a hidden collection located in the heart of Texas, one that sings about our great state. It documents the rise of the Texas music industry, contains stories about the author of the state song, “Beautiful Texas,” and many other people. The collection contains items that cannot be found anywhere else. 

Most of it sits in plain view on the walls of the lower floor of the library in Hillsboro. The Light Crust Doughboys Collection at Hill College provides a unique snapshot of Texas music and music industry at-large for the last 87 years, with most of it focusing on the 20th Century. 

A September 2017 concert at Hill College by the current Light Crust Doughboys drew a packed house of 420 attendees. This doubled the number of people attending the post-concert reception from 75 to 150, proving this long-running band is still of interest to old and young alike. Interest in their archives is slowly increasing as parts of the collection become available. 

Since 1931, the Light Crust Doughboys were a lunchtime staple for radio listeners until television replaced the radio as a means of entertainment. The band was also the first to be features on Dallas television when it went live under one of the band’s many aliases, the Flying X Ranchboys. 

These cultural icons represent a unique part of Texas history encompassing politics, the rise of Western movies, the use of popular music in advertising and the beginning of the genre known as Western Swing.

Legendary Texas figures such as W. Lee O’Daniel, Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Tommy Duncan, Walter Cronkite and Smokey Montgomery have all been associated with the band. Other historical figures associated with the band are Gene Autry, who did two movies with them, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hank Thompson, Artie Glenn, perennial favorite Lawrence Welk, Sherry Davis, Slim Whitman and Cowboy Bill Boyd. Their 2001 Grammy included work with James Blackwood. They have played for governors, presidents and had the Beatles open for them. 

This project is just one of 44 made possible this year by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. 

“Communities in every corner of Texas will benefit from the resources that have been made available through this list of forward-thinking grant proposals,” TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith said.

TSLAC awards competitive grants annually, as funding allows. For the 2020 fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. 

For information, visit tsl.texas.gov.

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