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Temple Bowen Collection

Identifier: H001-68

Scope and Content

This collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, ephemera, memorabilia, cachets, telegrams, and correspondence that were created and/or collected by Temple Bowen in formation and operation of his companies. The Temple Bowen Collection is housed in four boxes of various sizes totalling 3.3 linear ft.

The collection arrived in fair condition and was initially processed with only a container list as description. Due to a change of the content management system, further description proved to be necessary.


  • 1927 - 1957
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1934

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Temple Bowen made transportation the focus of much of his life. In the early 1920s, he and his brother R. C., both truck mechanics, founded Bowen Brothers Contract Trucking Company in Mineral Wells, Texas. They provided trucking service in North and West Texas during the early days of the West Texas oil fields. In 1925, sensing an opportunity to provide more transportation options to the region, the brothers sold the trucking company and created the Bowen Brothers Bus Company, which was headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The original route was to Breckenridge, Texas and soon routes to San Angelo, Sweetwater, Abilene, and El Paso followed. Thirty small bus lines were purchased. In 1926, all were merged into West Texas Coaches, Inc. with R. C. as president and general manager and Temple as vice president and operations manager.

Even though he did not have a background in aviation, Temple left the bus company to form Texas Air Transport Company in November 1927 with Seth Barwise of Fort Worth as partner and assumed the position of general manager. The airline was based at Fort Worth Meacham Field. Starting out with a mail route from Dallas to Galveston, and then adding passenger/mail service on February 6, 1928 from Brownsville to Dallas, the airline, using a fleet of seven Pitcairn Mailwing biplanes, became the first to carry airmail in the state of Texas. Bowen quickly expanded in the spring of the next year with mail service to San Antonio on March 9 and El Paso on March 16, and then passenger service within a few weeks. Eventually, in January of 1929, Temple Bowen sold Texas Air Transport for $175,000. It was merged with Gulf Air Lines, an airline operating from New Orleans to Atlanta, to form the Southern Air Transport System. Temple rejoined the bus company only to return to the airline business the following year.

Using the funds provided by the sale of Texas Air Transport, Temple Bowen formed Bowen Air Lines, Inc. on October 1, 1930. He began passenger service between Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston with Lockheed “Vega” aircraft. By 1931, flights to Oklahoma City and Tulsa from Dallas and Fort Worth had been added. In May 1931, Dallas-Austin-San Antonio service was started with the addition of new Lockheed “Orion” aircraft. This aircraft was built to Bowen's specifications and was the first in the world to fly in excess of 200pmh. Bowen had flaps added to the wings to reduce landing speed and increase the angle of descent, making the “Orion” the first to have these features. Bowen used the aircraft’s maximum speed of 225 mph as an attraction to the flying public.

By September 1934, Bowen Air Lines was operating from Chicago to Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas and had added two new “Vultee” aircraft. However, due to the lack of airmail contracts during most of its years of operation, the airline suffered severe economic problems. Bowen, despite having successfully bid for a small portion of new airmail contracts in 1934, then sold it to Braniff Airways in 1936.

It was reported that Temple Bowen was very proud of his airline’s safety record. Not a single pilot or passenger received a significant injury in a Bowen Airlines aircraft. Bowen was a member of the Air Transport Code Authority during the days of the National Reconstruction Administration in the 1930s and was a significant contributor toward the labor code required by the Post Office Department for airmail lines.


R. E. G. Davis, “Airlines of the United States since 1914, Paladwr Press, Inc., 1998”
George W. Clearley, Jr., “Braniff International Airways: The Building of a Major International Airline, 1928-1965,” George W. Clearley, Jr., 1986
“Temple Bowen Collection,” Clippings, Folder 2-3, Box 3, Series I, History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


3.3 Linear Feet (Two half-size manuscript boxes, one non-standard box (18.75x14.5x3.0), and one non-standard box (17.5 x 12.0 x 3.0).)


Temple Bowen was a significant contributor to the development of public transportation from 1925 through 1936 in the Southwest and Midwest areas of the United States. Starting in 1927, he became one of the pioneers of early air transport development by establishing several airlines carrying air mail and passengers. In 1929, he formed Bowen Air Lines, Inc., which carried passengers between major cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. In 1936, Bowen sold his company to Braniff Airways.

Series Description

The archivist kept the original organization intact without any further arrangment.

Provenance Statement

The Temple Bowen Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by an anonymous donor.

Additional sources

For more information about commercial aviation, consult the Braniff International Collection the Davis Airlines Collection, and the Airline Schedule Collection in the holdings of the History of Aviation Archives.

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 5TBC-1-1-PB1

5 = History of Aviation Archives

TBC = Temple Bowen Collection

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

B = Black and White

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.
Guide to the Temple Bowen Collection
Patrick Corder and Patrizia Nava, CA
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2018-07-18. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2018-09-10.

Revision Statements

  • 2018-04-10: 1st revision was a migration to ArchviesSpace by Patrizia Nava, CA.
  • 2018-09-10: 2nd revision incorporated additional materials that were found at a later date and the finding aid was updated by Patrizia Nava, CA.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US
972-883-4590 (Fax)