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Royal Dixon Papers Now Available

Contemporary Literature, Finding Aids, Guest Posts

The following comes to us courtesy of Elizabeth Barnes, who just wrapped up an internship through the Graduate Program in Public History, for which she processed numerous archival collections including the Royal Dixon Papers.

Royal Dixon and bird (December 1956, Royal Dixon Manuscripts)

Royal Dixon and bird (December 1956, Royal Dixon Papers)

Special Collections at the University of Houston Libraries announces the opening of the Royal Dixon Papers to the public.

Royal Dixon was a native of Huntsville where he later attended Sam Houston State University. His academic pursuits continued when he held the status of a special student at the University of Chicago and Columbia University. Dixon’s long literary career began with a post at the Houston Chronicle and continued with many short stories and novels. Nearly all of his writing focused on nature and was characterized by the common theme of anthropomorphizing the natural world. His more notable works included The Human Side of Plants (1914), The Human Side of Trees (1917), The Human Side of Animals (1918) and The Ape of Heaven (1936).

Dixon was active in the community and in 1921 he began the First Church of Animal Rights, a short lived group aimed at promoting animal rights. In addition, he wrote on behalf of the plight of immigrants in the United States.

Dixon lived nearly all of his adult life with his partner, renowned local artist, Chester Snowden. The relationship was well documented to family, friends, and business associates. After a debilitating car accident, Snowden was able to take over as Dixon’s power of attorney until he had recovered.

The collection contains typescripts of several of his publications, personal correspondence, minutes and notes from his philanthropic work, and some of his personal teaching notes as well as some of Chester Snowden’s writings. Also included in the papers are many poignant reminiscences and biographical materials Snowden collected in the wake of his partner’s death in 1962.

"Dear Friend: 'THE FIRST CHURCH FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS' IS A REALITY!" (Royal Dixon Manuscripts)


The Royal Dixon Papers make a unique contribution to our Contemporary Literature Collection, providing insight into the naturalist preservation efforts in Houston during the first half of the Twentieth Century, as well as the LGBTQI community during the same time. For further information please consult the newly available finding aid. All of Royal Dixon’s original materials can be viewed in our reading room.

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