David Dary Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2011.13

Level of description



David Dary Papers


  • 1856-2013 (Creation)


298.00 Linear Feet, 103.00 Boxes

Post-Fire Oversize Boxes:
Box 101, 103 (23x31): 509S: 19/3/5
Box 92, 93, 95,96 (16.5x20.5); 509S: 19/3/3
Box 95 & 96 (16.5x20.5); 509: 20/30/4
Box 94 (16.5x20.5); 509S: 19/15/4
Box 99, 100 (20.5 x 24.5): 509S: 19/15/3
Box (16.5x20.5); 509S: 19/15/5
Box 97, 102 (16.5x20.5); 509: 20/25/4
Boxes 89 & 90 (16.5x20.5); 509: (20/27/4); (20/29/4)

Name of creator

Biographical history

David Dary is a native of Manhattan, Kansas, where he was born in 1934. A great grandfather, Carl Engel, settled in Manhattan in 1865 and was an early merchant. David’s maternal grandfather was Archie W. Long, one-time mayor of Manhattan, who owned the Long Oil Company. David’s parents are the late Russell and Ruth Long Dary of Manhattan. His mother received her master’s degree from K-State in 1926. David is a graduate of Kansas State University (1956). He later earned a graduate degree from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
After graduating from K-State he began a career in broadcast journalism at WIBW radio and television in Topeka and later worked in Texas before joining CBS News in Washington, D.C. where he covered the last months of the Eisenhower and then the Kennedy administrations. Dary introduced Kennedy on CBS for the president’s Cuban Missile Crisis speech and later overflew and observed Soviet ships carrying missiles out-bound from Cuba. In 1963 he was recruited by NBC News to be manager of local news in Washington, D.C. Although in management, he was frequently heard anchoring NBC’s Monitor weekend news programs.
In the late 1960s he was offered a promotion if he would move to NBC News in New York. He declined and decided to return to Kansas where he helped to build a new NBC television station in Topeka (channel 27) before joining the faculty of the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU where he earned his graduate degree. As a professor he began to write articles and books on Kansas history. After 20 years at KU, he was recruited to become head of what is now the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He rebuilt the program and obtained a $22 million gift from the Gaylord family of Oklahoma that elevated the school to college status and provided funds for construction of a new journalism and mass communications building. After eleven years at OU, he retired in 2000 and is now emeritus professor. 
He is the author of more than 20 books. Three deal with journalism and the rest focus on historical aspects of Kansas and the American West. They include <emph render='italic'>The Buffalo Book</emph> (1974) selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club, <emph render='italic'>Cowboy Culture</emph> (1981) covering 500 years of the cowboy which won a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center and a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. It also was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by his publisher Alfred A. Knopf of New York City. Other popular books are <emph render='italic'>True Tales of Old-Time Kansas</emph> (1984), <emph render='italic'>Entrepreneurs of the Old West </emph>(1986), <emph render='italic'>Seeking Pleasure in the Old West </emph>(1995), and <emph render='italic'>Red Blood and Black Ink: Journalism in the Old West</emph> (1998).
Since his retirement in 2000, he has continued to research and write. His more recent books include <emph render='italic'>The Santa Fe Trail</emph> (2000) and <emph render='italic'>The Oregon Trail</emph> (2004) followed <emph render='italic'>by A Texas Cowboy’s Journal: Up the Trail to Kansas in 1868</emph> (2006), edited by Dary. His most recent books <emph render='italic'>are True Tales of the Prairies and Plains</emph> (2007) and <emph render='italic'>Frontier Medicine: From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1492-1941</emph> (2008) which won the Dr. Walter Alvarez Award from the American Medical Writers Association.
In addition to receiving two Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, he has received two Spur Awards and the Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Writers of America. In 2008, the Oklahoma Center for the Book honored him with the Arrell Gibson Award for lifetime achievement. He also has been inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Famer and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. In August 2010, he was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame at Dodge City for his literary contributions to the history of the cowboy.
He is a former member of numerous academic and professional journalism organizations. He served on the board of directors of the Kansas State Historical Society for twenty years, is a past president of the Western Writers of America, a former council member of the Western History Association, and past president and board chairman of Westerners International.
A long-time collector of books, pamphlets and ephemera on Kansas and the West, he became an appraiser of such items in the early 1980s while continuing to add to his extensive library.
Dary and his wife Sue, an artist and former K-State student, live in Norman, Oklahoma. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in June 2010. They have four daughters and seven grandchildren.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

David Dary donated his extensive collection of personal papers to the Morse Department of Special Collections in 2011.  The papers span the years 1856 to 2013 and are housed in 103 boxes comprising 90 linear feet of shelf space.
Dary was born and raised in Manhattan, his maternal great-grandfather having settled there in 1866.  All of his great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents, as well as other relatives, played active and prominent roles in the history of Manhattan. Dary graduated from Kansas State College in 1956 with a degree in speech, and the University of Kansas in 1970 with a master’s degree in journalism.
The papers reflect the various stages of Dary’s impressive professional career, along with his early activities as a magician followed by years as a short wave radio enthusiast.  His career in broadcast journalism, most notably for CBS and NBC in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s, led to positions in the schools of journalism at the University of Kansas and the University of Oklahoma, where he served as director.  His passion for history combined with his writing ability and style enabled Dary to become a major western historian with countless articles in newspapers and journals and over 20 books for which he has won numerous prestigious awards.
The Dary Papers include the most diverse number of research strengths than any other collection in the department.  Among the topics represented in the papers are Manhattan history, history of print and broadcast journalism, U.S. history and political science, history of Kansas and the West.
At the time of the donation, the K-State Libraries purchased Dary’s library containing approximately 4,000 titles.  Housed in special collections, its strengths mirror those of his papers.
The Family Series consists of three (3) boxes of material relating to David Dary’s family members. The family series is divided into several sub-series according to family members: Carl Engel (David’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side), Charles F. Engel (David’s great uncle), A.W. Long (David’s maternal grandfather and Manhattan City Mayor from 1909-1911), Milton Russell Dary (David’s father), Ruth Engel Long Dary (David’s mother and spouse to Milton Russell Dary), Sue Dary (David’s wife), and Cynthia Dary Rugolo and Carol Dary Pennington (David and Sue Dary’s daughters). Photographs of family members can be found in series 14, photography.
The Education Series is held in one (1) box. It contains material from David Dary’s days at Manhattan High School and Kansas State University (then Kansas State College). Dary graduated from Manhattan High School in 1952. Included in the high school material is documentation of Dary’s interest in being a magician and drummer. David attended Kansas State College from 1952-1956 where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech. Papers for this period include items related to K-State and his classes.
The Short Wave Radio series is made up of two (2) boxes of radio-related content belonging to David Dary. His first interest was in short-wave listening and later obtaining his FCC license as a radio amateur after trying to operate a very low-power radio station at his Manhattan home. they contain correspondence from other short-wave listeners and radio amateurs, photographs, QSL cards from short-wave broadcast stations around the world, and verifications to many stations he heard on his equipment. His files document radio activities from around the world and provide an insight into the history of short radio for several decades.
The Broadcast Journalism Career Series concentrates on this period of his career and consists of one (1) box of material. There are documents from Dary’s time at CBS (1960-1963) and NBC (1963-1967) including scripts, reports, staff directories, and other material. Dary covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy (included is the United Press wire report of the shooting in Dallas), the Cuban Missile Crisis, the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and other key events. Related documentation can be found in other series including correspondence, Dary files, and photographs.
The Higher Education Career Series is made up of three (3) boxes. They contain information from David’s employment at the University of Kansas and the University of Oklahoma. He was a Professor in the School of Journalism at KU from 1970-1989. At OU, Dary was a Professor of Journalism and Director of H.H. School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He retired as Emeritus Gaylord Chair and Professor. Many of the files in the OU section pertain to the Gaylord family. Also included is documentation of Dary’s two visits to Sudan, 1988 and 1989, when he participated in a U. S. Information Agency program to teach Sudanese journalists about free press in a democracy.
The Correspondence Series is made up of seventeen (17) boxes of correspondence from individuals relating to different areas of interest: broadcast and print journalism, state and national governments, western history, publishing (history of the West in particular), universities of Kansas and Oklahoma, etc. The correspondents and subject matter basically relate to the various stages of Dary’s life and represent a “who’s who” in those fields. A few examples include Ed Bliss, David Boren, David Brinkley, Dan Casement, Don Goldsmith, Robert Hemenway, Richard Rogers, Dean Rusk, Pierre Salinger, Ed Turner, and Harry Truman. The contents are filed alphabetically by the correspondent’s last name.
While the files in the Correspondence Series concentrate on individuals and personalities, the fifteen (15) boxes in the Dary Files Series represent many of the subjects that Dary researched, wrote about, and collected. A large number of the files include those that Dary maintained according to historical topics and include correspondence, notes, newspapers and clippings, periodical articles, ephemera, maps, and photographs. These files are organized alphabetically.
The Business Records Series consists of two (2) boxes. The first box contains appraisals that Dary completed for numerous businesses and collectors and they remain closed to researchers at Dary’s request. The second box contains information from Dary’s book business dealing with out-of-print publications, 1969-1989. The material includes the catalogs he distributed that listed the items that he had for sale. Included are items relating to book fairs and collections. Dary also purchased and acquired many out-of-print and historically valuable items that are found in his papers and library.
The Speeches Series is made up of six (6) boxes with its contents arranged in chronological order by the date the speech was presented. The dates range from 1970-2013; the undated speeches are filed at the end. The titles (if provided) and location of the speeches are also listed. The over 160 speeches preserved in the files cover a wide variety of topics, the history of the West and Kansas in particular. They offer researchers the results of his research and experience associated with numerous subjects; the audiences ranged from members of professional organizations to civic clubs.
The Publication Files Series is housed in twenty-six (26) boxes divided into fifteen sub-series. The first twelve document a number of Dary’s books, including The Buffalo Book, Cowboy Culture, Entrepreneurs of the Old West, Frontier Medicine, Lawrence: An Informal History, Oklahoma Stories, Oregon Trail, Red Blood, and Black Ink, Seeking Pleasures in the Old West, The Santa Fe Trail, Stories of Old-Time Oklahoma, and True Tales of the Prairies and the Plains. They document his research and approach to writing and publishing major works on western history and the history of the state of Oklahoma. The final three boxes are divided into miscellaneous, illustrations, and literary works and research. They include files on illustrations for several of Dary’s books and research files.
The Certificates and Awards Series is contained in one (1) box. They represent certificates and awards presented to Dary, some of which are among the highest honors an author can receive. They include a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, and a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Alfred A. Knopf publishing company nominated Cowboy Culture for a Pulitzer Prize. Also included are three certificates related to the field of medicine that Gilbert Dary received, 1895-1902.
The Ephemera Series consists of two (2) boxes of items in various formats. It includes items that Dary collected over the years that fall into the categories of autographs, broadsides, correspondence, financial, printed material, and wire service. Some items of prominence include autographs of Kansas Governor, documents dating from Kansas Territory days, and the wire service account of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. In addition, there is a collection of William Robert Smith letters that Dary purchased because of its historical interest. Smith (1863-1924) was a lawyer, judge, and U.S. congressman from Texas. He served as judge of the 32nd Judicial District of Texas, 1897-1903. He was elected to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat and served 1903-1917 after which President Woodrow Wilson appointed him the U.S. district judge for the Western District of Texas. The letters span the years 1890-1924.
The Printed Material Series, housed in two (2) boxes, is divided into seven subseries: 1) Early Journalism Career, 2) Career in Education-University of Kansas, 3) Career in Education-University of Oklahoma, 4) Writing Related Material, 5) Personal, and 6) Subject. They include a variety of formats and contain material associated with Dary’s early journalism career, years at Kansas University and the University of Oklahoma, a variety of items related to writing, personal activities, and subjects. Researchers are encouraged to look at the container list in order to gain a better perspective of the holdings in this series.
The Photograph Series is held in six (6) boxes divided into subseries according to family members. The first subseries on the Carl Engel family includes Manhattan photos of Norman Engel’s store, family homes, and other miscellaneous family views. In the Charles F. Engel section, there are photos of the Engel hardware store and log cabin. The third subseries covers A.W. Long’s family. It includes photos of family homes, the Long Oil Company, and family photos. The Milton Russell Dary photos include family, Poyntz Avenue, and the family home. David Dary’s subseries includes photos from both his career and personal life. His career photos include portraits of news reporters he worked with or knew; Dary’s own portrait, and photos from conferences/meetings/seminars. Photos from his personal life include those of his family and his home. The stereoviews (1880-1906) provide early views of Manhattan and the surrounding area including the family home and garden scenes. The subject series contains photos acquired by Dary and include notables such as Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman making “whistle stops” in Manhattan, Kansas [expand the number of examples].
The Audiovisual Series is contained in one (1) box and includes CDs, DVDs, Tapes, and slides.
The Oversize Series is housed in fifteen (15) boxes and several large folders filed in the oversize flat drawer cabinet; the locations are noted in the container list. This series contains material divided into nine subseries: 1) photographs; 2) scrapbooks; 3) maps; 4) posters; 5) artwork; 6) newspapers; 7) magazines; 8) certificates/diplomas/awards; 9) and other. The oversize material is housed in either large folders or oversize boxes. The photographs contain images of family as well as a few miscellaneous photos, such as the Popcorn Man. There are twenty-three scrapbooks in the oversize series. Four of the scrapbooks belong to Ruth Engel Long Dary (Dary’s mother) and cover the time she was attending Kansas State Agricultural College (circa 1926). Two belong to M. Russell Dary. And another two relate to M. Russell Dary and his marriage to Ruth Engel Long Dary, a guest list and anniversary memory book. Two are personal scrapbooks of Charles Engel and A.W. Long, respectively. Thirteen of the scrapbooks relate to David Dary, spanning from his birth to college to the publication of his articles. The maps section includes maps primarily over cattle trails and the frontier and there is also a large collection of Kanzana maps. The artwork and posters are housed in one box and one folder. They include artwork collected by David, covering mostly western topics, and posters from events, such as an NCAA final four game and movie posters. The oversize newspapers are separated into originals and facsimiles from sources such as the New York Times, the Kansas Republic News, etc. The magazines are all originals and include Life magazine, Kansas City Star Sunday magazine, Chicago Tribune, Collier’s magazine, and Midway. In the Certificates/Diplomas/Awards subseries there are items belonging to Gilbert Dary, Russell M. Dary, A.W. Long, and David Dary. The other category is a random assortment of items, such as a calendar, press passes, and table displays.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged in 103 boxes and is organized into sixteen series: 1) Family; 2) Education; 3) Short Wave Radio; 4) Broadcast Journalism Career; 5) Higher Education Career; 6) Correspondence; 7) Dary Files; 8) Business Records; 9) Speeches; 10) Publication Files; 11) Certificates/ Awards; 12) Ephemera; 13) Printed Material; 14) Photographs; 15) Audio Visual; 16) Oversize.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

It received accession number P2011.13 and processing began soon after arrival into the department.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: David Dary
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 20110601

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

The Dary Papers include the most diverse number of research strengths than any other collection in the department.  Among the topics represented in the papers are Manhattan history, history of print and broadcast journalism, U.S. history and political science, history of Kansas and the West.


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Specialized notes

  • Citation: Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], David Dary Papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Allison Skees and Kari Bingham-Gutierrez, directed by Tony Crawford, Curator of Manuscripts
Processing Info: Alison Skees, student employee, began the initial organizing of the material.  Following her graduation, Kari Bingham-Gutierrez completed the bulk of the processing and the finding aid with Tony Crawford, Curator of Manuscripts, in the summer of 2014.
Publication Date: 2014-09-16

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