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John Fonteno Collection

Identifier: MSS 0064

Scope and Contents

The John Fonteno Collection houses the personal and business papers of John Fonteno. This collection, which dates from 1917 to 2008, includes correspondence with political figures, George Bush and Mickey Leland, several Texas governor and local officials, greeting cards and invitations,photographs, funeral programs newsclippings, event program, legal documents, family genealogy records for Myrtle Fonteno's family, ephemera, and literary publications collected by Fonteno. Academic related materials include yearbooks, report cards from Booker T. Washington and Yates High Schools, diplomas, and catalogs. Also includes various newsclippings, obituary, and photos about to Martin Luther King, Jr. dated from 1964 to 1971.

Series I: Correspondence (1965-2004)

Subseries: Letters (1965-1997) includes Correspondence to John Fonteno, Press Releases, Condolence letters for the death of Myrtle Fonteno, and Other Correspondence. The Correspondence to John Fonteno includes letters from The Republican Party of Texas, Congressman George Bush, Houston Mayor Louie Welch, Texas Representatives and Congressmen, the Republican National Committee, Houston Sheriffs and County Judges, Houston Mayor Jim McConn, Texas Governor William Clements, the NAACP, the White House, Texas Governor Mark White, and Houston City Councilmembers.

Subseries: Greeting Cards and Invitations (not dated) includes greeting cards from Curtis Graves and Congressman Bill Archer, as well as invitations to The Houston Business and Professional Men's Club Board of Directors meeting.

Series II: Newspaper Clippings (1917-2000) includes newspaper clippings about John Fonteno as well as other newspaper clippings. Many are from The Houston Post, The Houston Forward Times, The Informer, The Voice of Hope, and The Houston Defender.

Series III: Programs (1936-2008) includes Funeral Programs, School Programs, Organization Programs, Church Programs, programs for Better Tours & Travel, and other programs.

Series IV: Acknowledgements (1990-2004) includes certificates of appreciation to John Fonteno from TSU, Texas House of Representatives, Councilmember Sheila Jackson Lee, Senator Rodney Ellis, Texas Governor George Bush, the Houston Library Board, and the United States Olympic Committee.

Series V: Campaign Materials (1965-1968) includes Campaign Literature, Campaign Photographs, and Other Campaign Materials. Campaign Literature includes brochures, a bumper sticker, and political advertisements. Campaign Photographs includes photographs taken at John Fonteno's campaign headquarters. Other Campaign Materials includes materials from other campaigns.

Series VI: Photographs (not dated) includes photographs featuring John Fonteno with people such as Governor Bill Clements, Gerald Ford, County Judge John Lindsay, and Bob and Elizabeth Dole, as well as his wife and son, and his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. Other photographs included in this series are of Mickey Leland, Betty Shabazz, banquets and dinners, as well as of John Fonteno's sister and parents.

Series VII: Academic Material (1909-1992)

* Subseries: Yearbooks (1944-1951) includes two yearbooks of Myrtle Fonteno from Knoxville College and two yearbooks from Texas State University.

* Subseries: Diplomas (1932-1949) includes the diploma of Lily Mae Fonteno from Holy Rosary Parochial School in Galveston, Texas, and two diplomas of John Fonteno from Hampton Institute.

* Subseries: Invitations (1944-1949) includes invitations to Booker T. Washington High School's socials and an invitation to Hampton Institute's Spring Formal. * Subseries: Reunions (1992) includes the 40th Class Reunion booklet for Booker T. Washington High School and a photograph of Hampton University's 50th Reunion.

* Subseries: Catalogs (1909-1910) includes a catalog from Biddle University in North Carolina.

* Subseries: Report Cards (1941-1943) includes John Fonteno's report cards from Booker T. Washington and Yates high schools.

* Subseries: Alumni Association (1949) includes the Service of Induction for the Class of 1949.

Series VIII: Legal Documents (1927) includes the marriage license of Jules Monday to Lether Miles.

Series IX: Genealogy (1946-1979) includes items related to the family of Myrtle Fonteno, such as a family tree and property deeds.

Series X: Myrtle Fonteno (1965-2004) includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, certificates, photographs, and resolutions regarding John Fonteno's wife, Myrtle.

Series XI: Martin Luther King, Jr.(1964-1971) includes newspaper clippings, photos, obsequies and eulogy, and periodicals.

Series XII: Literary Material (1958-1999) Subseries: Books (1958-1992) includes books collected by John Fonteno such as The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro, the 100th Anniversary Edition of Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, and the Texas Trailblazer Series.

* Subseries: Periodicals (1966-1999) includes periodicals collected by John Fonteno such as Sports Illustrated Hank Aaron 715th Home Run issue, Black Enterprise's 20th Anniversary issue, and a copy of the speeches by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. about the War in Vietnam.

Series XIII: Ephemera (1935-1998) includes movie posters, football game tickets, as well as stills from movies, sports, and music.

Series XIV: Miscellaneous (1965-1967) includes copies of drawings by Theadius McCall.

Series XV: Oversized Materials (1956-1995) includes photos, certificates, a Frederick Douglass commemorative plate, a small business award to Better Tours & Travel, and an award to John Fonteno for 30 years of service from TSU. This series also includes a proclamation from Mayor Kathy Whitmire for July 20, 1990 to be known as John Fonteno, Jr. Day.


  • 1917 - 2008
  • Majority of material found within 1965 - 1999

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials form the John Fonteno Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

John Fonteno was a businessman, educator, and community leader who was known by some as Mr. Black Republican. Born in Galveston on July 21, 1926, Fonteno grew up in Houston's Fourth Ward. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and entered the Navy during World War II. He returned to Houston after being honorably discharged in 1946. He left Texas to attend Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, in Virginia, where he earned an associate's degree in plumbing and heating in 1949. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial education from Texas Southern University (TSU) in 1957 and 1964. He developed the plumbing program at TSU, where he was an associate professor of technology for 50 years. A contractor, real estate consultant and travel agency owner, he founded John Fonteno Jr. & Associates.

Source: Houston Chronicle March 16, 2004


4 Linear Feet (6)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into fifteen series by subject and format, most of which are futher arranged into subseries.

Series I: Correspondence

*Subseries: Letters

*Subseries: Greeting Cards and Invitations

Series II: Newspaper Clippings

Series III: Programs

Series IV: Acknowledgements

Series V: Campaign Materials

Series VI: Photographs

Series VII: Academic Material

*Subseries: Yearbooks

*Subseries: Diplomas

*Subseries: Invitations

*Subseries: Reunions

*Subseries: Catalogs

*Subseries: Report Cards

Series VIII: Legal Documents

Series IX: Genealogy

Series X: Myrtle Fonteno

Series XI: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Series XII: Literary Material

*Subseries: Books

*Subseries: Periodicals

Series XIII: Ephemera

Series XIV: Miscellaneous

Series XV: Oversized Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by John Fonteno, III.

Processing Information

Processed by: Ingrid Grant, August 7, 2014.

MSS 0064 John Fonteno Collection
An Inventory of his Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
Ingrid Grant
January 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the African American History Research Center Repository


African American History Research Center
Houston Public Library
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston History Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002