Bureaucracy: Brewer Family Papers

Marriage Certificate, Brewer Family Papers, University of North Texas Libraries. Denton, TX

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The Brewer Family papers were collected by Melvin E. Brewer, a native of Dallas, Texas. The collection includes family journals, letters (including love letters, remembrances, and personal anecdotes), newspaper clippings, church pamphlets, a Hawaiian-themed Christmas dinner menu from 1938, poetry, addresses and birthdays of family members, files on individual family members, and family group records. The oldest document in the collection is a 1908 marriage certificate, but some of the files on individual family members cover the collection’s most recent content from 2005. Material in the collection is not limited to content related to the Brewer family, for genealogical research relevant to the Morrow and Waggoner families and their relatives is also included. Handwritten records of family members’ personal information (name, date of birth, place of birth, marriage date, and phone number) are included alongside lists of birthdates, obituaries, and newspaper clippings.

The earliest document in the collection is the 1908 certificate of matrimony for T.J. Morrow and Flossie E. Willingham. The marriage certificate is a folio that includes the details of Flossie and Willingham Brewer’s marriage on its first page and family genealogical details on the remaining three pages. The certificate records the family’s lineage – names of family members are recorded along with their date of birth, whom they married, their date of death, their cause of death, and the location of their vault, monument, or headstone. The certificate is thus a blend of personal information and administrative record-keeping; it exemplifies the ways in which people, individually and collectively, legitimize their existence and experiences by recording significant events, including births, marriages, and deaths. The marriage certificate and family history, as well as the Brewer papers more broadly, show how one family worked to situate itself in local history and how they sought to ensure that important events in family history would be remembered.

Melvin E. Brewer was born in Dallas, where he also obtained a BBA degree in Accounting from Southern Methodist University, served as a church deacon and as both a member and director of the Dallas Genealogical Society and the Denton County Genealogical Society. He was also a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the U.S. Navy Seabees, and a founder of the Christian children’s camp, Sky Ranch. Before his passing on April 6, 2014, he published three books focused on his genealogical research and civic activity (Brewer). The Brewer Family papers collection was donated to University of North Texas Special Collections by Melvin Brewer’s granddaughter, Maribeth Brewer Koch. The collection allows an investigation into forms of bureaucracy in that it blends personal elements within the context of administrative record-keeping. In this way, the collection shows how individuals and bureaucracy coexist and complement each other.

Find Brewer Family Papers in UNT Special Collections' Finding Aids.