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Reby Cary Papers


Reby Cary (1920 - 2018) was born and raised in Fort Worth. Mr. Cary grew up in a religious household, the son of Reverend Smith Cary, who founded the Rising Star Baptist Church in Fort Worth. In 1937, Mr. Cary graduated from I. M. Terrell High School, the first black school in Fort Worth. After graduating, he attended Prairie View A&M University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science in 1941.

By 1942, Mr. Cary had completed the requirements for a Master of Science in History and Political Science except for the dissertation. However, that year he was drafted and volunteered to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. Mr. Cary was only the third African-American man admitted to the Student Radioman School in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and graduated in 1943. After being assigned to the U.S.S. Cambria, he served in Saipan, Japan, and Okinawa Island. Mr. Cary was discharged in 1945, and returned to Texas to earn a Master of Science in History and Political Science at Prairie View A&M University. He furthered his education by taking graduate courses at Texas Christian University and North Texas State University.

Mr. Cary has served the Fort Worth area in multiple capacities. In the education field, he taught in many places in the Fort Worth area, including as a History Instructor and Counselor at Dunbar High School, Assistant Professor of History and Associate Dean of Student Life at the University of Texas at Arlington (1969 - 1978), as well as the Director of Minority Affairs (1975 - 1978).

In 1974, he was the first African-American elected to the Fort Worth School Board. Politics have also been a way for Mr. Cary to serve the area. In addition to serving in the Texas State House of Representatives, he held leadership positions in the Frederick Douglass Republicans of Tarrant County and the Texas Council of Black Republicans.

Mr. Cary has also held positions in various organizations such as Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Youth Services Bureau of Tarrant County, Fort Worth Minority Leaders and Citizens’ Council, Boy Scouts of America, United Way of Tarrant County, Fort Worth Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Tax Appraisal Review Board of Tarrant County, and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. In addition to owning his own real estate company, Cary Real Estate, he has also found the time to author seven books on African-Americans in Texas.


The collection was donated to the library on July 11, 2008 by Reby Cary and his daughter, Faith Cary-Ellis. When possible, the materials were kept in original order and folder titles retained to preserve the integrity of the collection.

Scope and Contents Note

The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, photographs, programs, awards and plaques, and subject files relating to the careers and interests of Mr. Cary. The materials date from 1943-2008 and measure 14.4 linear feet (23 boxes). The collection has been divided into eight series:

  • Series I: Biographical (1943 - 2008) - Contains awards and certificates, career and professional documents, campaign materials, correspondence and written materials such as essays and speeches. The series also contains scrapbook pages, personal resumes, and programs. Of note are files from Mr. Cary’s time at the University of Texas at Arlington, including materials relating to the creation of a Minorities Cultural Center which Mr. Cary had a part in, and the use of the Rebel theme, which created racial tension on the campus.
  • Series II: Subject Files (1962 - 2007) - Contains files covering a range of topics of interest to Mr. Cary. Topics are mainly related to Fort Worth, including education in Fort Worth, the Republican Party, and organizations Mr. Cary was involved in. Of interest are files on the Fort Worth School Board and lawsuits against the Fort Worth Independent School District.
  • Series III: Clippings (1963 - 2006) - Contains newspaper clippings covering a variety of subjects. When warranted, clippings were separated out by subject. Due to the acidic nature of newspaper print, most clippings have been copied onto acid-free paper.
  • Series IV: Photographs (1943 - 2007) - Contains personal photos, as well as photos relating to Mr. Cary’s time with University of Texas at Arlington, the Fort Worth School Board, his political career, and time in the Coast Guard. Additionally, photographs from two photograph albums are included.
  • Series V: Audio/Visual & Electronic Records (1970 - 2007) - Contains five subseries:
    • Audio Reel - Contains one untitled 7 inch audio reel
    • Cassettes - Contains 31 cassettes on subjects relating to Mr. Cary’s time in the Texas State House of Representatives such as community forums, testimonies and Redistricting.
    • VHS
    • Transparencies - Contains overhead transparencies Mr. Cary created with Motiv-aid to supplement history classes. More information on the transparencies can be found in the Biographical series.
    • Electronic Records - Contains one floppy disk titled I Tried to Tell You! But They Wouldn’t Print, and two CDs relating to Mr. Cary’s participation in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
  • Series VI: Awards (1976 - 2006) - Contains various awards and plaques given to Mr. Cary. Awards span from 1976 - 2006.
  • Series VII: Memorabilia (2005) - Contains various items including name plates and souvenir medals and a miniature gavel.
  • Series VIII: Oversized Materials (1980, 1996 - 2002) contains three photographs and a scrapbook from Mr. Cary’s time in the Texas State House of Representatives, copies of book covers, and award certificate.

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Last updated: Dec. 13, 2018