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Fort Worth Flashback: Swartz brothers chronicled early life in Fort Worth

Posted May 3, 2013

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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 photos of people, events and architecture and leaving a priceless legacy. They collectively created thousands of photos.

Hundreds of those images have survived, although the brothers themselves are largely forgotten. The best-known photo shows the five members of the Wild Bunch (aka the Fort Worth Five) posed in John’s studio in 1900.

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.

Throughout May, the Central Library, 500 W. Third St., will host a photo exhibition highlighting representative examples of the brothers’ work.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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