University of Texas at Austin

E. O. (Eugene Omar) Goldbeck:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Living Insignia Collection

Creator: Goldbeck, E. O. (Eugene Omar), 1892-
Title: Living Insignia Group Portraits 1925-1947
Dates: 1925-1947
Extent: 267 items in boxes LI1-LI12, 8 oversize flat file drawers
Access: Open for research, except as noted in Access and Reproduction Restrictions
Access and reproduction restrictions The Living Insignia materials in the E.O. Goldbeck Collection include vintage and modern prints as well as a number of glass, safety, and nitrate negatives. Patrons may access and research the prints and the glass and safety negatives; they are restricted from accessing the nitrate negatives. Patrons may request reproductions of any of the materials, including the nitrate negatives, from the Ransom Center. There is a copyright fee to be paid to the Goldbeck family.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift, ca. 1967
Processed by: Susan McClellan, 1998

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Living Insignia materials form a small but significant part of the E. O. Goldbeck Collection. Born in 1892, Eugene O. Goldbeck was a commercial photographer whose career spanned the better part of the twentieth century. San Antonio, Texas, was both his hometown and the headquarters of his business, which he eventually called the National Photo and News Service. In addition to photographing important events and scenes both locally and around the world, he specialized in large scale group portraits, often of military units. Among his military photographs, the Living Insignia projects are of particular interest. The soldiers of a selected division were posed so as to form a representation of the division's insignia when seen from the vantage point of a tower built for the occasion. Careful planning and preparation went into the production of each image.
The materials are arranged chronologically by the date on which the insignia formations were photographed. There are 11 different insignias represented in the collection, ranging in time from 1925 to 1947. The groups involved in creating these images ranged in size from 1,300 soldiers at Kelly Field to almost 22,000 at Lackland Air Force Base. The participating units were stationed in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, and Hawaii, among other places. In general, the materials include plans in pencil and/or ink, blueprints, glass, safety and nitrate negatives, and both vintage gelatin silver and modern prints, although the types of materials present for each insignia vary. For example, the Hawaiian Division Living Insignia of 1926 is represented by everything from preliminary plans to negatives and prints (the Hawaiian Division also has two entries--one for 1926 and one for 1932.). On the other hand, the collection contains only a plan and two maps relating to the 1st Cavalry Division of 1940. The nitrate negatives are in either banquet or panoramic format. While there are prints of some of the banquet negatives, prints of the panoramic negatives are not available. Prints are vintage unless noted otherwise.
For two of the insignias, the 2nd Division of 1925 and the 35th Infantry Regiment of 1933, the copyright is shown as belonging to someone other than Goldbeck.
The following are abbreviations used in the finding aid:
  • LI=living insignia
  • NV=nitrate vault
  • OV=oversize
For more information on E.O. Goldbeck, two books are available:
Burleson, Clyde W. and E. Jessica Hickman. The Panoramic Photography of Eugene O. Goldbeck. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1986. (TR 661 B87 1986 HRC-P)
Davenport, Marguerite. The Unpretentious Pose: The Work of E.O. Goldbeck, a People's Photographer. San Antonio, Tex.: Trinity University Press, 1981. (TR 140 G64 D28 HRC-P)

Goldbeck Living Insignia Group Portraits--Container List

1926, Jan. 20 Kelly Field, Living Air Service Insignia (insignia: winged shield) Box LI-1 Folder 2   
1926, July, 36th Division, Palacios, Tex. (insignia: circle with T inside arrowhead) Box LI-6