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M. Lamar Muse Collection

Identifier: H013-15

Scope and Content

The collection contains documents, correspondence, airline operational data, glassware and clothing item related to M. Lamar Muse’s tenure as an airline executive. The bulk of the collection centers on his experiences with Southwest Airlines, Muse Air, and Transtar, as well as activities in his retirement. The M. Lamar Muse Collection is housed in six manuscript boxes, two record center boxes, and one memorabilia box totaling 9.5 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition and the processing archivist identified six series with the first series being the M. Lamar Muse Biographical Information/Southwest Passage Series, which contains biographical information about Lamar Muse and his family; historical information about Braniff Airways; as well as correspondence, drafts, contracts, and information related to the publication of his 2003 book about Southwest Airlines, Southwest Passage.

The second series is the Correspondence Series, which consists of correspondence with various figures in the aviation and business community as well as Lamar Muse’s commentary and opinion on several aviation issues including Love Field and the Wright Amendment and the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

The third series is the Southwest Airlines Series, which houses business material related to Southwest Airlines including proposals, instructions and notes to the Board of Directors, monthly financial and operations statements, corporate documents, annual reports, news clippings, a Harvard Business Case Study on Southwest’s 1970s Fare Wars, and issues of Southwest’s inflight magazine Spirit.

The fourth series is the Muse Air Series, which comprises business material related to Muse Air including annual reports, press releases, schedules, operations documents, photographs, and copies of the Muse Air in-flight magazine.

The fifth series is the Transtar Series, which contains material related to Transtar, the successor airline to Muse, including press kits, corporate newsletters, news clippings, and copies of Transtar’s in-flight magazine.

The sixth series is the Artifacts and Oversize Series, which consists of artifacts and memorabilia including glassware, cocktail accessories (stirrers, napkins, etc.), playing cards, buttons, pins, blankets hats, shirts, bags, and other promotional material connected to several different airlines (Southwest, Braniff, Central Airlines, Muse Air, and Transtar).


  • 1971 - 2007
  • Majority of material found within 1971 - 1987


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

Marion Lamar Muse was born June 4, 1920 in Houston, Texas. After completing college at Southwestern University of Georgetown (Texas) and Texas Christian University, located in Fort Worth, in 1939, he performed a number of odd jobs around the Palestine and Houston area, finally joining the accounting firm Price Waterhouse and Company in 1942. In 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and served in the European Theater during World War II. In 1948, he left Price Waterhouse for greater business opportunities and joined the rapidly expanding aviation industry.

Muse first obtained a job as Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of Trans Texas Airways (TTA), where he changed the way the airline collected airmail fees increasing profitability. His work with TTA attracted the attention of American Airlines who he went to work for in 1960. Although somewhat successful, Muse was unsatisfied with his lack of freedom at American, so he left to work with a number of airlines such as Southern Airways, where he increased profits, and Central Airlines, whose merger with Frontier Airlines he oversaw. In 1967, Muse went to Detroit to become the President and CEO of Universal Airlines. Muse leveraged Universal's airfreight contracts with the automotive industry by increasing profitability and rescuing the airline from financial failure. Despite this success, Muse disagreed with the Board of Directors over plans to purchase a Boeing 747 by the airline, with the result that he was fired in 1969.

Muse returned to Dallas just as Herb Kelleher and Rollin King launched the fledgling Southwest Airlines. Muse joined the airline in 1971 and immediately set about turning Southwest into a powerhouse with innovative promotions and sound fiscal strategy, shepherding Southwest through fare wars with both Braniff Airlines and Texas International. In 1978, Muse began making plans establishing Midway Air, which would operate from Chicago's Midway Airport using the same operating principles as Southwest. A holding company, with Muse as chairman, would eventually own and operate both Southwest and Midway. His expansion plans led to conflict with the founders of Southwest, and Muse launched an effort to oust Rollin King from the company. However, King convinced the board to support him against Muse, leading the board to ask for his resignation.

Resigned from Southwest, Muse spent the next year or two considering his options, but in 1981 returned to the aviation industry and putting his own airline into operation. Called Muse Air, the airline focused on mixing low cost fares with a higher standard of service and quality, as well as being the first entirely non-smoking airline. Muse, competing alongside his old airline Southwest, was moderately successful. However, by 1984, Muse Air was unable to meet its operating costs and in 1985, Southwest purchased Muse Air, renaming it Transtar in 1986. The airline managed one more year of operation, but by the middle of 1987, its unprofitability led to its liquidation.

Muse remained in Texas and continued to be involved in aviation, serving as consultant, advisor, and commentator on various aviation issues both local and international. Muse wrote a Harvard Business School Case Study on Southwest's 1972 fare war with Braniff (which lead to Southwest becoming Texas' largest distributor of Chivas, Crown Royal, and Smirnoff liquor). In 2003, he wrote Southwest Passage, an autobiographical work on his life and his time in charge of Southwest. Muse passed away February 5, 2007 at the age of eighty-six. He is survived by his second wife Barbra Deese Muse, son Michael Muse, daughters, Diane Muse Kinnan and Deborah Ann Muse, both of Dallas, and of Lisa Muse of Liberty Hill, TX; a sister, Marian Thompson of Palestine, TX; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild; two stepdaughters; and two step grandchildren.


"M. Lamar Muse Collection," Lamar Muse Biographical Information, Series I, Box 1, Folder 1, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
"Larry Sall Collection on M. Lamar Muse," M. Lamar Muse Biographical Sketch, Box 1, Folder 1, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


9.5 Linear Feet ((Six manuscript boxes, two record center boxes, and one non-standard box (17x17x7).) )


Marion Lamar Muse was born June 4, 1920 in Houston, Texas. After an early career as an accountant and service with the Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, Muse entered the aviation industry by taking an executive job with Trans-Texas Airways (TTA).

He followed this up by working for a succession of airlines including American Airlines, Southern Airlines, and Central Airlines (where he oversaw a merger with Frontier Airlines), eventually becoming President and CEO of Universal Airlines. Conflicts with the Board of Directors at Universal lead to his firing from the company.

Muse returned to Texas and went to work for Southwest Airlines helping shepherd it through its early growing pains. Muse worked with Southwest until 1978, when he came into conflict with other founders of the airline and the Board of Directors, and was forced to resign. In 1981, he started his own airline, Muse Air, which operated until 1985, when it was purchased by Southwest Airlines and renamed Transtar. Transtar was liquated in 1986 due to its unprofitability. Muse remained an advisor and consultant on aviation and business and passed away February 5, 2007 at the age of eighty-six.

Series Description

The M. Lamar Muse Collection is arranged into six series:

Series I. M. Lamar Muse Biographical Information/"Southwest Passage" 0.25 linear ft. (half a manuscript box), 1981-2007.

Series II. Correspondence 0.25 linear ft. (half a manuscript box), 2001-2006.

Series III. Southwest Airlines 1.5 linear ft. (three manuscript boxes), 1971-2006.

Series IV. Muse Air 0.75 linear ft. (one and a half manuscript boxes), 1981-1986.

Series V. Transtar 0.25 linear ft. (half a manuscript box), 1986-1987.

Series VI. Artifacts and Oversize 3.5 linear ft. (two record center boxes, and one artifact box), 1981-2007.

Provenance Statement

The M. Lamar Muse Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Diane Muse Kinnan on April 9, 2015.

Additional Sources

The History of Aviation Collection contains several sources of information about M. Lamar Muse and Southwest Airlines. The Larry D. Sall Collection on M. Lamar Muse, H019-90, houses research information about Muse as well as a biographical essay. Keith Khale Collection, H048-05, includes information about the merger between Central and Frontier Airlines.

Additionally the History of Aviation Collection Book collections contains a copy of Muse's Southwest Passages, as well as several other books about the history and operations of Southwest Airlines.

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, 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: 5-MLM-1-3-PB1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

MLM = M. Lamar Muse Collection

1 = Box Number

3 = 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.

Note to the Researcher

The collection arrived in good condition, although one piece of glassware was broken.

Material Removed List

Expired bags of cashews, breath mints, tubes of sunscreen and toothpaste (from toiletry kits) were removed from the collection, deaccessioned, and disposed of. Excess duplicate ephemeral material (such as cocktail napkins, coffee stirrers, and the like) as well as duplicate issues of the Southwest, Muse Air, and Transtar in-flight magazines were deaccessioned as well. Additionally, one piece of glassware, which arrived in a broken condition, was disposed of as a matter of safety.

Guide to the M. Lamar Muse Collection, 1920-2006
Thomas Allen, PhD
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. 2021-01-21.

Revision Statements

  • 2021-01-21: 1st revision was an update of the EAD Location and other style elements of the finding aid 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