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In 1935, Texas was preparing for its biggest celebration to date: a world’s fair to commemorate the centennial of its independence from Mexico. Centennial officials, eager to publicize the event, needed an abundance of photographic images that would put the state in the best possible light. They hired a young photographer, Polly Smith, who had recently returned from studying in New York, to travel the length and width of the state. Her mission was to capture the people and places that made Texas unique.

Evelyn Baker discussing her book Polly Smith: A Texas Journey

To see the entire lecture, The Centennial Photographs of Polly Smith, CLICK HERE

The Polly Smith Collection

An online archive of Polly Smith’s photography, collected by the Dallas Historical Society

The Dallas Historical Society has in its archives many of her photographs of Texas from 1935-36, and a selection of these images are on permanent display in the Hall of State.

CLICK HERE or on any of the images below to visit our online database of Polly Smith’s photography.

  • Alabama Indian Woman and Her Child | Alabama-Coushatta Reservation, Polk County, Texas
  • Barton Springs | Austin, Texas
  • Men and Ox Cart | Reynosa-McAllen, Texas
  • Chiseling the Finishing Touches on a Piece of Work | Near Austin, Texas
  • The Rose Window of San Jose | San Antonio, Texas
  • Workmen Sitting on Struts of an Oil Derrick | East Texas




By Evelyn Barker; Published by the Dallas Historical Society.



Since the centennial, the Dallas Historical Society has preserved many of her photographs, and several have been on permanent display in the Hall of State in Fair Park. A Texas Journey: The Centennial Photographs of Polly Smith is the first book-length examination of Smith’s life and work. The images presented here offer a revealing portrait of the Lone Star State in 1935.

Order the book online!


Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 6, Number 2, Fall, 1994

Texas Through the Lens, Polly Smith and the Texas Centennial

CLICK HERE to read the article

Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 19, Number 1, Spring, 2007

Polly Smith, Photographer – Telling the Story of Texas

CLICK HERE to read the article

CLICK HERE to see our current exhibits

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