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The Swartz Brothers

Fort Worth's First Family of Photographers

During November 2013, the TCU Mary Couts Burnett Library will host a photo exhibition highlighting representative examples of the Swartz brother's work. The exhibit—assembled by historian Dr. Richard F. Selcer and genealogist Donna Donnell—highlights 46 examples of the brothers' work. Join us in November as we celebrate the Swartz brothers' legacy.

The Swartz brothers—David, John and Charles—were three Virginia farm boys who ventured west, arriving in Fort Worth in the mid-1880s. Over the next 30 years, they observed the city through the lens of a camera, snapping pictures of people, events and architecture—leaving a priceless legacy. They collectively produced thousands of photographs that were scattered after their deaths.

"The Wild Bunch"
John Swartz, 1900
Seated, L to R: Harry Longabaugh (Sundance Kid), Ben Kilpatrick, Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy). Standing, L to R: Will Carver, Harvey Logan

Hundreds of those images survived, although the brothers themselves are largely forgotten. The best-known photograph shows the five members of the "Wild Bunch" (aka, the "Fort Worth Five") posed in John's studio in November 1900. It is the basis of the downtown development known as "Sundance Square." The Brothers' cumulative work provides a stunning visual chronicle of late 19th-and early 20th-century Fort Worth as well as a window into American life during that era.


You are invited to a free event, reception and book signing on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. in the Library Conference Room. Guest speakers Scott Barker, a Texas art historian, and author-historian Dr. Richard F. Selcer, will talk about the collection and legacies of the photographers who devoted themselves to Fort Worth and the art of the photographic image.

This exhibition is made possible by the support of the Friends of the TCU Library, Amon G. Carter Foundation, the Fort Worth Promotion and Development Fund, Scott Barker, and others who contributed funding and photographs.